Cleansed and Freed
“Then Jesus gave a loud cry and breathed his last. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom.” – Mark 15:37-38 (NRSV)
“Therefore, my friends, since we have confidence to enter the sanctuary by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain (that is, through his flesh), and since we have a great high priest over the house of God, let us approach with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.” – Hebrews 10:19-22 (NRSV)
When the Israelites were wandering in the wilderness they built a portable house for God (a tabernacle). The instructions for this tabernacle included the construction of a curtain that would separate the Ark of the Covenant (thought to be the abode of God) from the people performing sacrifices. The purpose of this curtain was to protect the people from the wrath of God. The wrath of God was present because the people had sinned and deserved death.
In the time of Jesus God had a permanent home in the midst of the temple in Jerusalem. The Holy of Holies was the abode of God and there was in the temple in Jerusalem a similar curtain to protect the people from the wrath of God. It was this curtain, a wonderful tapestry that was torn in two at the time of Jesus’ death on the cross. This is no small symbolic action. It demonstrates and proclaims that we need not fear the wrath of God anymore. Through the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross we no longer need protection from God’s wrath; in fact we can approach God without any fear – having the blessed assurance that God’s wrath has been appeased through the death of Christ.
Bringing It Home:
1. Are you still afraid of God’s wrath? Thinking that God’s anger will lead to your condemnation? Meditate on the Scriptures above and ask God to put the truth they proclaim deep into your heart that you may trust in the living hope that comes through the death and resurrection of Christ for those who believe.
2. We can come to the throne of grace and confess our deepest and darkest sin because the promise of the cross and resurrection proclaims that we will not receive wrath but grace. Confess your sins, for there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.
Lord God, I do deserve your wrath and condemnation for I am but a sinner. I stand at the empty cross this day and I come to you in humble confession only because of what your son, Jesus my Lord has done for me on the cross and in his glorious resurrection. I lay my sins before you and seek the mercy and grace that comes through the atoning sacrifice of my Lord Jesus. Forgive me and heal me. I am yours. Amen.
John A. Holm
Transforming Church Institute