Thursday, April 17, 2014

The Torn Curtain

“It was now about noon, and darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon, for the sun stopped shining. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two. Jesus called out with a loud voice, ‘Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.’ When he had said this, he breathed his last.” (Luke 23:44-46 NIV)

I have been in vocational ministry most of my adult life, and as other pastors and missionaries experience, I am often treated differently.  I have often been asked to give the blessing at a community meal.  People have told me how much they admire me for what I do.  Some have even implied they think my position makes me closer to God.  

This was the thinking as well among 1st Century Jews.  The religious leaders, especially those serving as High Priests, were viewed as being closer to God than the normal folk.  And it made sense.  Once a year, the High Priest, according to Mosaic Law (Leviticus 16), was to enter into the Holy of Holies, the most inner sanctum of the Temple, to offer a sacrifice before the Lord for the sins of the people.  A thick curtain separated the Holy of Holies from the rest of the rooms in the Temple and entrance into it was forbidden on any other day by any person.  So it is understandable why so much deference was given to the High Priest.  Only certain designated people were ever allowed into the presence of the Lord.

This is why the tearing of the Temple curtain upon the death of Jesus is so important.  It was the continuing presence of unforgiven sin that made the curtain necessary.  Not just anyone could come before the Lord.  An intermediary was required.  For centuries it was the man designated as the High Priest.  He was the chosen one.  But, as the Hebrew writer explains (Hebrews 7:26-27), Jesus was the perfect High Priest who took away the need for the curtain.  Access to the Lord was now open to all who desired to draw near to the Lord.  

By His death (and resurrection), Jesus eliminated the need for an intermediary to represent us before the Lord.  The curtain was torn signifying a new reality: God no longer limits our access to Him.  He invites each of us to “approach His throne of grace with confidence so that we receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need” (Hebrews 4:16).  No need for religious professionals to do our bidding; we can confidently go before the Lord ourselves.  

Today, recognize there is no longer anything preventing you from going before the Lord, of having a relationship with Him.  The curtain has been removed.  You don’t need a pastor, a priest, or any religious credentials to gain access to God.  All you need is an honest and open heart, acknowledging your need for His mercy and grace. 

© Jim Musser 2014   

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