Read: Matthew 27
“Then Jesus shouted out again, and he released his spirit. At that moment the curtain in the sanctuary of the Temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. ” (Matthew 27:50-51)
There is a high likelihood that you will pass by this curtain-tearing incident too quickly in light of all of the other heart-wrenching details of the crucifixion. If you do, you will miss one of the most significant events in the history of God’s dealing with mankind.
A little background information on the curtain may help. Kimberly Southwall writes,
“The temple had two important rooms in it. One was called the Holy Place, and the other was called the Most Holy Place. A curtain separated the Holy Place from the Most Holy Place. (Exodus 26:31-33.) The Most Holy Place represented the presence of God Himself. Because of that, the Most Holy Place was so special that God only allowed a priest to enter into it one time each year. No one else was ever allowed inside that room. The priest entered the Most Holy Place once a year to take the blood from a sacrificed animal to sprinkle inside to atone or try to make up for the peoples’ sins during that past year. For many years, this was the only way God’s people could hope to atone for their sins. But even this way wasn’t really good enough. That’s why God sent His only Son, Jesus, to die and atone for everyone’s sins, once and for all.
Keep in mind that this curtain was not like the ones in your home. To begin with, only the High Priest could get near it; and then only once a year. Not only that, it would have been impossibly tall to rip from the top to the bottom without a ladder. Moreover, it was so thick that, ladder or not, no human hand could ever have torn it in two.
So what is going on here? At the moment Jesus died to atone for our sins, it is as if God reached down from the unseen realm where he dwells, grabbed the curtain with both hands, ripping it with a vengeance, and thus opening up a new way for you and me into his very presence.
How awesome is that! No longer do we need to come to God through an ineffective system of religious laws, procedural sacrifices, or by a high priest. We can now boldly, confidently, and regularly come right into the very presence of God himself to obtain what we need. The writer of Hebrews describes it this way,
“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, and our bodies have been washed with pure water. (Hebrews 10:19-23)
The writer puts it similarly in Hebrews 4:16, “Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”
Now, aren’t you glad God ripped the curtain? I sure am. Next time you read Matthew 27, pause at verse 51 for a little while.
And while you’re at it, be a little bold before God in your prayers!
“This is the mystery of the riches of divine grace for sinners, for by a wonderful exchange our sins are now not ours but Christ’s, and Christ’s righteousness is not Christ’s, but ours.” ~Martin Luther
What If God Took Over?
There is a “new and living way” for you to access God’s presence. By Christ’s sacrifice, you have been given the right and the privilege to come right before your Heavenly Father’s throne to obtain mercy and find grace. So today, be bold and ask God to pour out all of heaven’s blessings upon you. Then come back tomorrow (or five minutes from now, if you need to) and do the same thing!