-GAINS & GLEANINGS-
By J. Hogan
Then the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom.
So when the centurion, who stood opposite Him, saw that He cried out like this and breathed His last, he said, “Truly this Man was the Son of God!” ~ The Gospel of Mark 15:38-39
The veil of the temple was a magnificently thick embroidered curtain, more ornate but much like the best theater curtains of today in heft.
It served as a barrier, a reminder that only a rare few men were to ever enter into the innermost portion of the temple to have an audience in God’s very presence.
Like concentric rings of preference, the Jewish people of Jesus’s day knew quite literally where they stood.
Gentiles at the outermost portion and no closer.
Jewish women one level closer, worshiping like spectators in the cheap seats. The common Jewish man one tier nearer, but no more.
In from there, the servants of the temple, then the priests in training and the day’s reader of the scroll.
Then the seasoned priests and, finally, the high priests and the High Priest, chosen – it was commonly held – to beseech God on behalf of the masses gathered at his back.
Within this context, the veil announced the exclusivity of an audience with God.
Jesus grew up in this culture, and became hated by much of it. He dared to call God “Abba” – that is, to us today, akin to “Daddy.”
He spoke confidently of God, saying again and again “my father in Heaven is like…” and “the kingdom of Heaven is like…” telling of things no mere man could possibly know.
They wished to think him a liar or lunatic, and wanted to stop him from saying the maddening things he claimed to know, but the masses surrounded Jesus, having seen him heal the blind, the lame, the ill, and even raise the dead.
When he declared a person’s sin forgiven, many gasped at the audacity, but how could a man not sent by God possibly heal so many and so effortlessly dodge the verbal traps constantly laid to test him by the religious leaders?
When Jesus’s time to die came, He died. It was a key moment in an amazing series of key moments throughout his time on Earth. Yet one more was on the way, the encore of all encores. On the third day of His time dead in the tomb, He returned to life, resurrected.
Death was conquered.
The possibilities of life for man became divinely repaired and eternal.
We Christians believe in Christ’s resurrection; we too find new and lasting life.
Not just life eternal, but life abundant, here and now.
But we can’t forget that other key moment.
The veil was torn.
When Jesus died, the heavy curtain tore in half, removing the barrier between the common person and God. No more concentric circles of class and importance, no more hierarchy of access to God’s mercy seat.
Because the veil was torn, you and I can approach God any time. We can commune with God at will.
We all have the high priest’s access, because our high priest, through his life, death and resurrection, removed the bane of death and the barrier of sin… and we gain God.
Happy Easter – or Happy Resurrection Sunday, if you prefer, as do I.
Jesus went to the cross to tear away that veil between you and God… take advantage of that. What a blessed privilege.
Rev. James Hogan is a native of Stowe Township and serves as pastor of Faithbridge Community Church, 618 Russellwood Ave.