“And Jesus cried out with a loud voice, and breathed His last. Then the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom.” Mark 15:37-38
Sometimes the occurrence of one event signals that something else has happened.
Yesterday was my birthday and I remembered something my father told me after I and my twin brother had turn twenty. It was just another birthday like all the other birthdays we’d celebrated but on this one my mother sat down and cried like her heart was broken. My father was confused because my mother, while she wasn’t afraid of, or embarrassed by crying, wasn’t one given to shedding a great number of tears. After a little while my mother told him that it just hit her that all her babies were grown up now, we weren’t her little boys anymore, and soon her home wouldn’t be our home either.
It was a birthday, but it wasn’t just a birthday.
When Jesus died there was nothing unusual about the actual way he died. Tens of thousands of people had died by crucifixion before this and while his ordeal was extraordinarily brief, compared to most, I’m sure he wasn’t the first to die of heart failure or stroke within hours of being crucified. His peaceableness leading up to his crucifixion I’m sure was not unprecedented either.
I say this in no way to diminish who Jesus was or how he gave himself and died for us. In fact, that Jesus lived and died in ways consistent to the way everyone else does, for me, emphasizes the truth that he, the Son of God, had truly become the Son of Man. And that he would become one of us so that he could die like we do shows greatness.
But this not uncommon event, occurring according to predictable patterns, signifies that something greater and more significant has happened. Jesus died having never sinned and this finished the hitherto unassailed reign of sin over humanity. And because Jesus had completed this task, he’d set for himself, the door was open for the forgiving and redeeming of any person who would believe.
The temple in Jerusalem was more than just a place to worship God. It was also the place where the prophetically promised salvation of man, by God, was received by symbolically enacting it through the offering of sacrifices. But Jesus, in his dying, had fulfilled the promise. No longer were the temple and its services needed. Our faith is now demonstrated by obediently ceasing our sacrifices of lambs and instead giving ourselves as living sacrifices to Christ and service to him through his body, the church.
The tearing of the temple veil from top to bottom proclaims the reality of the fulfillment of heavens sacrifice. While there is more work to be done to ensure that as many as who may might be saved, it is the work Christ has completed through his death that is the heart of the gospel message his people proclaim.
The call comes to you, its come to me. Will we believe? Will we respond and say, “Yes?” Will we give ourselves in service to Jesus who, in sacrifice, gave himself for us ?