Matthew 27:51. And behold, the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom.
Have you ever felt separated from God?
Before the cross of Christ, separated from God wasn’t just a feeling, it was a reality. In the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve walked and talked with God by the Spirit. But when they sinned they were removed from God’s garden sanctuary. They were separated. The rest of the Bible is God’s unfolding plan for solving this problem. What problem? The problem of the presence of God – we can’t live without God, and we can’t live with God. We can’t live without his holiness or our sin will drive us into self-destruction. And we can’t live with his holiness or his perfection will crush our sin.
The tabernacle and temple were God’s Old Testament solution to this problem. We can’t live without God, so God lived among Israel in the center of the temple. But we can’t live with God so we were separated from God’s presence by a thick curtain in the temple. That four-inch thick, 60’x60′ curtain in the temple separating the Holiest Place from the Holy Place, separating man from God, represented our greatest problem – we need to live with God but we just can’t. Not fully.
Do you remember the end of the Wizard of Oz? “Pay no attention to the man behind that curtain.” When the curtain is pulled back on Oz by Dorothy’s dog, Toto, it reveals just a normal man who was trying to be a “great and powerful” wizard. Needless to say Dorothy and the gang were a bit disappointed and angry.
But what happens when we pull the curtain back on God? What do we see? Do we find a God who is hiding from us? Does our God say, “pay no attention to that man behind the curtain”? Or do we have a God who says a man IS the curtain? The God-man Jesus Christ. When we pull back the curtain on God we find only a good and holy God that allowed himself to be torn for us.
Hebrews 10:19-22. 19 Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, 20 by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, 21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near 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.
God’s curtain wasn’t accidentally pulled back without his consent. His curtain was sent to live among us. His curtain is the eternal Son, Jesus Christ. The living curtain. The living temple. Where God met man.
The curtain in the temple separated God’s holiness from our sinfulness. But in the curtain of Christ’s death on the cross, God’s holiness and our sin collided. And the result was the tearing of that veil. The opening of the heavens. The destruction of the wall of separation between God and man. In the temple? Yes. But more importantly, in our hearts. Like the centurion watching over Christ’s death who declared “truly this man was the Son of God.” The curtain over his heart was torn. By beholding Christ’s work of love our hearts are torn open and set free. Free to boldly enter into the loving presence of the living God.
We started out by asking “Have you ever felt separated from God?” Many Christians spend their whole lives trying to get “clean” and get “close.” Many confess that they feel far from God. Like there’s a four-inch thick curtain that your trying to cut through with child’s scissors in order to get to God’s love. Look to Jesus! Take your eyes off your own failures, your own efforts, your own commitment level, and just walk into the presence of God. Bring it all with you. All the mistakes, all the baggage, all the shame, and lay it down on the mercy seat.
“To live is Christ” means access. It means no more separation. No closed doors. No veils. No curtains. No blockade to God’s love and grace. The only thing blocking your heart from his is you. So take your eyes off of yourself and cast them onto Christ and his new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain of his flesh. And then live like you’re actually in God’s presence today. Because you actually are.
Do you feel separated from God today? Why?
You in Christ
In Christ you are living in God’s presence right now. How might life change the more you believe this?
Christ in you
What is a specific way you might boldly enter the presence of God today?
Playlist: Songs of God’s presence.