Friday, November 11, 2005

Mark 15:38

And the curtain of the temple was torn in two,
from top to bottom...

unremarkable sentance, a remarkable, life changing, eternity shattering truth. This, of course, is Mark 15:38, the event it describes happens as Jesus breathes His last (v37). He dies, and the curtain of the temple rips. Coincidence? I think not. What does it mean, what is the curtian, what purpose did it serve? Why is it so important that Mark chooses to record it in the middle of an account of Jesus's death and the reaction to it?

In 2 Chronicles 3:14, the curtain of the temple is descibed as being 9 metres long and extremely thick, it was made of 'blue, purple and crimson yarn, and fine linen, with cherubim worked into it.' It seperated the Most Holy Place of the temple from the rest of the temple, and was symbollic of the seperation man faced from the presence of God. This is further strengthend by the mention of the cherubim, which is Genesis 3: 24 is placed at the east of the Garden of Eden 'turning every way to guard the tree of life.' Cherubim is also mentioned in Psalm 18:10 and 104:4. If it guarded the Tree of Life, it was put there by God to protect from man what man had tried to gain. The chrubim to the garden, and the curtian to the temple. This was what seperated man from the life giving presence of God. And this was a thick curtain, this was not a curtain that could easily be pulled down or would sucumb to wear and tear. This curtain was there for good and it was to be respected. It was representative of all that had been lost in man's relationship with God, all the barriers that had been created by man that could not be overcome by man...

And when Jesus died, it ripped in two. Just like that. Jesus breathes His last, and down it comes.

We can only imagine the carnage this caused. How the proud Pharisees would've felt about 'their' temple being damaged, or the fact that now everyone could enter the Most Holy Place. We can only conject as to what explanations they came up with, how they explained it away, and what the people believed about it. But to me, there only seems to be one explanation. One reason the curtain ripped, and one reason for Mark thinking that it was important to record.

When Jesus died, not only the physical barrier between man and God fell, but so did the spiritual. It says in Romans 4:25 that Jesus was 'delivered up for our trespasses'. Suddenly all the things that seperate us from God are laid on the creator of the universe, who died: Jesus. All the sin we commit now laid on His shoulders. Price paid. Anger propitiated. How amazing is that? Jesus dies, and we can come into the presence of God. Jesus died, and not only can we come into the precense of God, but any meaning the temple structure had is washed away. So? So we can meet with the risen God anywhere. The earth is His tabernacle. Jesus is God's temple, having fufilled the law which man could never keep. Because of Jesus dieing on the cross, i can have a relationship with Him, enjoy His presence. I needn't visit a temple, or wonder whats behind a curtain, but enjoy the full amazing presence of God all around me all the time. All because our Lord died on a cross, and split the temple curtain...

There is no other way. No one else's death throughout eternity has or will have this effect on the order of God and man. No one. This is what Jesus did on the cross. This is what happened the second He died. The curtain ripped, and we were able to enter and enjoy His precence. If we accept the death and resurrection of Christ, then we can enjoy (and i mean enjoy) the presence of God for all time. How exciting is that!

1 comment:

Sally said...

Hey Ed,

That is my all-time favourite verse for precisely the reasons you've mentioned. :o)

I love the idea that it lets us in to meet God, but also that it let God out, as it were. I'd never thought about it like that. Thanks!