The Sacrifice and The Life-Giving Way

What a day that must have been! Try to imagine yourself there.

You might have been a follower of the Teacher who is now being nailed to a cross and hung there to die. You are in shock and disbelief; you are seeing everything you’d hoped for crumble and disappear. And maybe you are afraid of what is now going to happen to you.

Or maybe you are one of the mob that spewed the anger and hate, hoping to wipe this man and his influence off the face of the earth and finally silence all of the unsettling teachings and ideas that have been floating around for the last three years.

You might have simply been a traveler, knowing nothing about what was happening but caught in the city as events unfolded, hearing rumors and talk about a man being condemned to die today.

But what a day! At noon, the sun is obliterated and darkness falls. No one can explain it, and there’s panic and confusion. A few hours later, an earthquake splits open the earth. Bodies rise from graves and walk about in the city. What a day.

And if you were in the temple that afternoon, especially if you were a priest, you would have been stunned as the heavy, high, thick curtain that hid the place called the Holy of Holies suddenly ripped apart, from the top to the bottom.

That curtain had been in place for generations, ever since God had given the children of Israel instructions on building a tabernacle where they would worship Him. The Holy of Holies behind the curtain was the place where only one priest could enter and approach the presence of God. When he entered, everything must conform to the prescribed instructions—everything, right down to his underwear.

The priest entered once a year to present a sacrifice that was to cleanse the people from the guilt of their sins, to purify them so they would be acceptable to worship the Almighty. Men who had entered at the wrong time or in the wrong way had died, struck down by the hand of God.

Now that curtain was ripping, tearing apart, from the top to the bottom! An impossibility! That curtain was so heavy and so high, it was more immoveable than a wall. And now it was tearing in two.

I’ve often wondered … was it a quick, fast rip, like lightening splitting the air? Or a slow dissolving of the embroidered threads as the curtain sagged and collapsed?

However it happened, the barrier between God and man was torn down at the moment Jesus breathed his last.

The final sacrifice has been made.

For God’s will was for us to be made holy by the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ, once for all time.

And so, dear brothers and sisters, we can boldly enter heaven’s Most Holy Place because of the blood of Jesus. By his death, Jesus opened a new and life-giving way through the curtain into the Most Holy Place.

And since we have a great High Priest who rules over God’s house, let us go right into the presence of God with sincere hearts fully trusting him. For our guilty consciences have been sprinkled with Christ’s blood to make us clean…

 

* 

Scripture: Mark 15:37-38, Hebrews 10:10,19-22 (NLT) Read more in Hebrews 9:1-15, Hebrews 10:1-25

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