I was blogging last week about the significance of the name “Good Friday” and why it’s called that name. I have a follow-up thought that I would like to share along that line. We really did have a glorious Good Friday here at New Durham Chapel last week. We had our annual Easter Cantata and it was an amazing community experience. With 300 in attendance we celebrated with the six or seven other churches the glorious wonders of Jesus’ death and resurrection. It kicked off a very special weekend of ministry that also included wonderfully attended Easter brunch followed by a glorious resurrection service on Sunday morning. But to have a sense of the significance of Good Friday and one of the special implications I’d like us first to consider a little poem written by John Piper. In “Calvary Love” we read-“He held the world between his thumb and finger like a tender grape. And when the spike was driven through his hand, his muscles flinched with world-creating force, and crimson wine dripped from his fingertips. But with omnipotent resolve he neither dropped nor crushed his grape”. One of the profoundly significant things that happened when Jesus cried his last cry from the cross is described for us in Matthew’s Gospel. In the 27th chapter we read these words –“At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook and the rocks split,” (Matt.27:51 NIV). Why is the tearing of the veil at the moment of Jesus’s death such a profoundly significant and huge event? The curtain which was torn separated the Holy of Holies from the rest of the temple courtyard. It was that curtain that the high priest alone might pass once a year. The inner veil was used to keep the Holy of Holies separate from the sanctuary. Why is the tearing of the curtain a significant key to understanding the mystery of why Jesus died? Why did this sinless man have to suffer so? The tearing of the veil from the top to the bottom symbolized the fact that we now have free access to our heavenly father. The tearing of the veil at the moment of Jesus’ death must’ve been deeply convicting to any intelligent Jew and even to the conscience of Caiaphas the high priest. The rending of the curtain proclaimed the termination and passing away of the ceremonial laws, rabbinical traditions and Levitical rituals that the religious leaders so heavily relied upon. At the moment of Jesus’ death atonement was made for the sins of the whole world. There is no longer the need for the sprinkling of blood or the Old Testament sacrificial system that the priest relied upon. No longer would God dwell in the thick darkness of the Holy of Holies and be the exclusive property of the priesthood. The true Lamb of God had been slain to free us from our sin. In contrasting the Old Testament priesthood to the priesthood that we are now part of as followers of Jesus Christ it would be like holding up a candle light to the noon day sun light. The darkness and mystery of the Old Testament types are fulfilled in the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. All are now invited to draw near to God with boldness and to approach Him with confidence by faith in His Son the Lord Jesus Christ. When the veil was torn Jesus opened up for us a new and living way into the divine presence. We don’t have to go to a priest to confess our sins or to make supplication for us, we can take our request directly to the Son of God. Jesus paid for our sins so that we might be justified by faith and have peace with our heavenly Father and rejoice in the hope of His eternal glory.
This point is also emphasized by Paul when he writes, “For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus”, (1 Timothy 2:5 NIV). God has provided a mediator for us. That is one who will speak to God on our behalf now that the veil has been torn. There is one God and that one God bears goodwill to all mankind who call out to Him in the name of His Son. The eternal Son of God who was made in the likeness as a man is our mediator before the throne and he ever lives to make intercession for us. There would be no bond between God and man if Jesus Christ had not been truly human. As our mediator he speaks on our behalf before God. This emphasis is opposed to all erroneous ideas that we should pray to Mary or saints or to angels to serve as mediators on our behalf for salvation. Jesus is the one who identifies with humanity and has paid it all. When He stands in the presence of God on our behalf, what a blessed truth it is to know that the veil has been torn. Won’t you thank Him today for His great sacrifice on Good Friday and thank Him also that He now stands in God’s presence on our behalf! All praise to our great Savior who directs our steps into God’s eternal presence. Shalom, Pastor Rich Sivo