Thursday in the Thirty-Third Week of Ordinary Time

Matthew 27:51; Mark 15:38; Luke 23:45b

The Curtain Comes Down

The temple was an elaborate structure, particularly Herod’s temple in the time of Jesus.  God gave detailed and intricate instructions concerning the tabernacle which preceded the temple (Exodus 25-30, 35-40), and later for the temple itself (1 Kings 6-7 & 2 Chronicles 2-4) which was based upon the instructions for the tabernacle.  (Please note: God cares about beauty, especially when it comes to His house.)  The temple was designed such that the deeper one went into it, the more sacred the space one occupied.  Herod’s temple consisted of a court for gentiles where God-fearing non-Jews might go to pray to the true God, a court for women, a court for men, a court for priests, the Holy Place where priests offered incense, and the Most Holy Place which only the high priest entered once a year on the Day of Atonement.  Between the Holy Place and the Most Holy Place was a curtain separating the two places, which God ordained in Exodus 26:31-35.  I am informed again by the notes in my ESV Study Bible that this curtain “was an elaborately woven fabric of 72 twisted plaits of 24 threads each. It was 60 feet (18m) high and 30 (9.1m) feet wide” (1887). In other words, this wasn’t the curtain in your mother’s living room; this wonder work of embroidery was a monster, a beautiful and magnificent monster to be sure, but a huge piece of tapestry that took one’s breath away.

Well, the passage we read today tells us that upon Jesus’ death, this awe-inspiring curtain was torn in two, “from top to bottom.”  Given the height and thickness of the material, this was a miracle all its own.  But what is its meaning?  We remember that in John’s Gospel, miracles are called “signs” because they point beyond themselves to some deeper truth about our Lord.  And that truth is simply this: The tearing of the curtain symbolizes the tearing of our Lord’s body, through whom we now have access to the One true God and Father.  The blood of goats and bulls has been superseded forever by the supreme sacrifice of the Son, the Mediator between God and man (1 Timothy 2:5).  The Old Testament regulations were prelude, anticipations, and types of the realities to come: “we have such a high priest, one who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven, a minister in the holy places, in the true tent that the Lord set up, not man” (Hebrews 8:1-2).  And because he is seated at the right hand, we now have access to the throne of grace.  God is holy, and you just can’t go before Him.  He’s not angry with you; it’s just His nature to be holy, and ours not to be.  And so, we need a mediator, the God-man who can go between, because he is worthy.  The curtain has come down and we can go in – because of Christ.

Author: The Reformed Baptist

My name is Stephen Taylor, ordained Baptist minister of eighteen years pastoral experience with a Ph.D. in Historical Theology from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas. Better than that, I am married to a godly woman, Karla, who has been very patient with me since 1989. I have two daughters, both of whom I homeschooled for extended periods of time, who became godly young women, and who ran off and married godly young men, all of which is very proper. The oldest daughter has even seen fit to bless me with a grandson and a granddaughter, and my youngest daughter with a grandson, all three of whom are bundles of exceeding joy. As you can see, I am quite blessed. This website is dedicated to helping people grow in the wisdom and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ through the gift of writing that the Lord has given to me. It is specifically about helping His people grow in godliness, the theme you see repeated above. I write devotions with this aim and hope that they might be of some help to God’s people. Full disclosure: I am of a Reformed bent, meaning that my understanding of Scripture is primarily informed by the Reformers and their successors of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. However, as a student of church history and theology, I strive to remain true to that teaching handed down once for all unto the saints through every age of the Church. I like to think of myself as a “catholic” Christian, as the Reformers thought of themselves. At any rate, feel free to read, pray, and contact me if you wish, or correct me if need be. As you can see, I tend to follow the church year. Of course, I make no special claims about these devotions. I know very well that others have written better and plumbed the depths of God’s word with greater insight. But if my musings help someone draw closer to the Lord, well then, I have my reward. Blessings to you and may the God and Father of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ speak to you that word which He knows you especially need to hear. Grace & peace, Stephen Taylor

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