Dear Church family,
As we enjoy this season after Easter, I am reminded of something that happened at Jesus’ death that we don’t always notice. Matthew, Mark and Luke all include this event in their crucifixion passages. Here it is from Mark’s point of view:
“And Jesus uttered a loud cry, and breathed his last. And the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom.” —Mark 15: 37-38
You may wonder, What veil are we talking about? And, while we are at it, what temple are we talking about?!
The writers are describing something amazing that happened at the very moment Jesus died. The great Temple for all of Judaism was in Jerusalem, the same city where Jesus died. All Jews traveled to this site to worship God and to give sacrifices to him. Within the Temple there was a room called the “Holy of Holies” and no one was allowed to go in there. Only one high priest, one time a year, was allowed to enter. This was because the people believe that God was in the Holy of Holies and it was too sacred for just anyone to wander in. The barrier that divided this sacred room from the rest of the Temple was this veil. It was like a massive curtain, about 60 feet tall and 30 feet wide. It was hung for two purposes: to shield God from humanity’s sins and also to shield humans from the holiness of God.
And it was this veil that, at Jesus’ death, was ripped open, from top to bottom.
That means, that in Jesus, we are no longer kept at a distance from God. He is right here with us with no barriers or walls to get in the way. Also, when that veil tore we learned that God doesn’t need to be shielded from us either. He does not hide away from our sin but, in Jesus, he carries our sin on himself. And the writers want to be clear: that veil tore from TOP to bottom. So guess who tore it. Guess who wanted this barrier gone. God did. God tore the veil.
We live in a post-Easter world. Jesus has been raised and we can turn to him to find new life. And we also live in a world where the veil is ripped up. There is no distance between us and God for he will not be held in one place. I like to think about it like this: now, God is on the loose!
It is not always easy to believe that God is this close to us, that we can be that close to him. But we live in a world where he has shown us what his desire is and what our reality can be if only we will watch for him and be open to what he is working in us and all around us.
I wish you tremendous joy this day for Easter has come and God is on the loose!