It would be an understatement to say that I was disappointed to hear that we would be quarantined for Easter this year. It is my favorite week of every year. There’s nothing that compares to the celebration of what my Savior has done for me.
I’m not sure what I expected to happen while still being at home, but I did assume that without the services, communions and celebrations with my fellow believers that it would be a less powerful than normal.
But this morning, I woke up earlier than normal and saw the sun streaming through the windows, and just like every Good Friday my heart felt heavy – before I even realized what day it was.
I sat down and read the crucifixion story, trying to ponder every word. I’ve read it so many times that sometimes it just goes over my head as I read it and I didn’t want that to happen.
Then came the verse that hits me every time. Whether it’s read or sung or prayed… it brings about a feeling I can’t describe accurately. It brings me to my knees.
“It was now about noon and darkness came over the whole land until three, because the sun’s light had failed.. Jesus cried out again with a loud voice and gave up his spirit. The curtain of the sanctuary was torn in two from top to bottom, the earth quaked, and the rocks were split.” (Luke 23:44-45 + Matthew 27:50-51)
The whole earth responded to the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. The sun stopped shining. The earth shook. The rocks split in half. The curtain was torn in two. Why does such a statement bring up so many emotions for me?
Since the day man chose sin over God, he lost his right to be in the presence of God. God cannot be in the presence of sin. When God decided to live among his people, the Israelites, there had to be a very special structure for his presence to dwell.
Only a certain group of people out of the whole Israelite group (the Levites), who lived very carefully following all the laws, were allowed to do temple work. And out of those very special people there was only one man (the High Priest) who could be in the presence of God in the Holy of Holies. He had to go through many procedures and cleansing rituals to be able to be in the presence of God without dying.
It all seems a bit extra, right? Every time I read over those laws in Leviticus I am blown away by how crazy they seem. It just seems insane that God required so much of them in order to just be with them.
But without these laws and regulations in Leviticus, there is no way we would understand the gravity of what is happening here at the crucifixion.
When Jesus gave up his Spirit, taking the guilt and shame and punishment of ALL the sin of ALL mankind for ALL of eternity, the rules and regulations to be in the presence of God were gone forever. The Holy of Holies was no longer limited to one special man who had gone through tons of preparation.
The curtain that separated man from the presence of God was torn in two. It was done. It was gone forever. God’s presence was now available to all of us through Jesus’ sacrifice. But where does God’s presence dwell now that the Holy of Holies is gone?
1 Corinthians 3:16-17 “Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s spirit dwells in you? …God’s temple is holy and you are that temple.”
WOW. There’s a reason for the laws of the Old Testament. They may seem mundane and boring, but they show us just how worthless and undeserving we are… how we can never measure up. Even our very best is not enough for the presence of God.
But Jesus! Jesus chose of his own will to take away the guilt, the shame, the depression, the fear, the worthlessness that sin brings us and to say “You are worth my life!”
Jesus says we are worth his very life. He chose to give everything so that we could be free from the heaviness of sin. We are free. Because of this freedom we can have life – Jesus said himself that that is the very reason he came.
John 10:10 “I have come that they may have life and may have it abundantly.”
I know this Holy Week is different than anything we have ever experienced, but don’t pretend it’s not happening. Jesus’ death and resurrection is every bit as real this week as it is every day. His sacrifice is not limited to a church service one day a year.
Without Jesus Christ, there is no freedom from the sadness, shame and darkness of this world. But he tore that curtain in two for you, so that you could experience his presence intimately. He promises that if you choose to accept his gift of salvation, that you will have full and abundant life and freedom from shame.
Regardless of the circumstances, nothing can squelch the joy that comes from such a wonderful promise and truth. Nothing else truly matters but knowing the One who made us and loves us. To God be the glory.
Philippians 3:8-10 “Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ and become one with him. I no longer count on my own righteousness through obeying the law; rather, I become righteous through faith in Jesus Christ. For God’s way of making us right with himself depends on faith. I want to know Christ and experience the mighty power that raised him from the dead.“