London, UK Photographer: Diliff
“And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice and yielded up his spirit. And behold, the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. And the earth shook, and the rocks were split.”* At the end of Mathew we only see one brief sentence about the curtain of the temple splitting, and although, only a sentence, and only in one gospel, the ramification of the splitting of the curtain of the temple resembled something big.
The second Jewish temple had different parts to it, all which had different layers of access depending on the person. But inside one of the deeper parts of the temple was the most Holy area, which was separated by the curtain, where God’s presence was supposed to reside. It was in this area that only one person could enter, the High priest. The High priest could only enter on Yom Kippur, and had to go through different rituals to cleanse himself to enter. This area was considered so Holy whenever construction was done workers were roped in from the top and had to strictly face the specific area where their work was being done. One late source, quite probably a legend, said that the high priest had bells on his waist, and had a rope tied around his ankle. Should the High Priest enter the presence of the Lord with any uncleanness and die, the bells would notify the priests and they could tug the priest out by rope.
So, what then does the tearing of the temple curtain represent? It resembles God’s new covenant with His people as prophesied around 600 years earlier by the prophet Jeremiah. (Jer. 31:31-34) There is now a new covenant. There is no curtain, priest, or rituals separating us from God. God’s Holy Spirit now resides in us and and His word in our hearts. We go directly to God. We no longer need a priest to make sacrfices for us once a year. Jesus was our sacrifice. Jesus is now our high priest. (Hebrews 9, 1 Timothy 2:5) The ritualistics barriers to know God are no longer. God writes His commands on our hearts, we are His people, and He is our God. God never wanted to know us from a distance. King David understood this even before the days of Jesus sacrifice. God wants to know us intimately and be part of every little thing in our lives.
God knows our pain, our happiness, our emotions, our goals, motives, our deepest thoughts. (Luke 12:7, Psalm 139:2, Jeremiah 1:5) God is the only we can never put up a false front towards. He knows us more than we can even know ourselves. God sees us as we truly are, He always has, and His response is radical love. (Luke 15:11-32) Come to me, know me, give your life for me is God’s call and invitation for us. (Rev. 3:20, John 17:20-23, Math. 10:39)
So how can we know the God, who knows us better than we do? A spirit of worship, and a heart that wants to know God is not redundant for God as we may guess. We were created to know God and bring Him glory. We deepen our relationship with God primarily through Scripture and prayer. We deepen our relationship with God by including Him in every part of our lives.
King David, the man known for being a man after God’s own heart, understood this well. He wrote at least 76 of the 150 Psalms in the Scriptures. He knew how to love God, share his life with Him in the good and the bad times. He was utterly consumed with God. Upon returning the Ark of the covenant King David was so happy, he danced around and praised God in the city in what was essentially His underwear. In another instance King David penned a psalm/prayer when he found himself in a cave being hunted unjustly by King Saul.
Another person in history who really understood the principle of letting God into every part of their lives was Brother Lawrence. Brother Lawrence, was a relatively obscure monk during the 1600’s. He was not qualified for any high positions at his monastery so he served as a kitchen aide and later as a sandal repair man. “For Brother Lawrence, “common business,” no matter how mundane or routine, could be a medium of God’s love. The sacredness or worldly status of a task mattered less than the motivation behind it. Brother Lawrence states “Nor is it needful that we should have great things to do….We can do little things for God; I turn the cake that is frying on the pan for love of him, and that done, if there is nothing else to call me, I prostrate myself in worship before him, who has given me grace to work; afterwards I rise happier than a king. It is enough for me to pick up but a straw from the ground for the love of God.”
So, God wants us to include Him in every nook and cranny of our lives. Good times and bad. Boring and exciting times. God doesn’t need us, the news is much better, He desires us.
* Mathew 27:50,51
**Brother Lawrence who lived and died a life of obscurity, actually made more of an impact than He would probably ever could have guessed. His writings which were put together posthumously, became a book called Practicing the Presence of God. This book has lasted centuries, been published millions of times, and has been translated into over 100 languages.