And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit. At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. . . . (Matthew 27:50-51 NIV)
We who are Christian believers should thank God continually for our New Testament guarantees of spiritual life and freedom in Christ! Our sacrifice is not an animal offered by a priest as imperfect as we are. Our sacrifice is the very Lamb of God, who was able and willing to offer Himself to take away the sins of the world. Our altar is not the altar in old Jerusalem. Our altar is Calvary, where Jesus offered Himself without spot to God through the eternal Spirit. Our Holy of Holies is not that section of a temple made with hands, secluded behind a protective veil. Our Holy of Holies is in heaven, where the exalted Jesus sits at the right hand of the Majesty on high.
Note the comparison of the two priesthoods. In the Old Testament, every priest who ever served knew that he would ultimately be retired and die. Each priest was temporal. But in our Lord Jesus Christ we have an eternal High Priest. He has explored and conquered death. He will not die again. He will continue as a priest forever, and He will never change! It is for that very reason, the writer assures us, that Jesus is "able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them" (Hebrews 7:25).
Before we move on from the subject of the passing of the Old Testament priestly mediation, I want to mention the strange, anomalous event that took place within the Jerusalem Temple as Jesus gave up His life on the cross. As He "gave up his spirit" (John 19:30) outside Jerusalem, the very finger of God Almighty reached into the temple's most holy place, splitting, rending, tearing the heavy hanging veil.
That ancient veil was not just a curtain. It was a special drape—a veil so thick and heavy that it took several men to pull it aside. As Jesus died, the finger of God rent that veil which had housed the earthly presence of the invisible God. Thus, God was indicating the beginning of a new covenant and a new relationship between mankind and Himself. He was demonstrating the passing of the old order and the transfer of authority, efficacy and mediation to the new order.
Father, may I more and more worship in Your presence through Christ my Lord and High Priest. No temple veil or sin prevents me. Through Him I may come directly to You.
Made obsolete by the tearing of the veil is the Mosaic Law, the Levitical priesthood and the temple ritual. In effect is the new covenant. As believers, we now have direct access into the presence of God through Christ--our eternal High Priest and sacrifice for sin. Are we living in the reality of that access?
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