Message of the Cross
Read Matthew 27:45-56
Some places seem just too difficult to revisit. Some memories are just too painful to relive. It seems there are snapshots in our memory that just beg to be tucked away into the old, dusty album of our subconscious. The pictures they show represent pain; and to face pain head-on, well, that can’t be good for us. But that's not the message of the Cross.
These verses in Matthew chapter 27 are head-to-toe pain. We’re told in verse 35 that Jesus had been nailed to the Cross. Now, before we skip over that fact too quickly, let's let it sink in. Jesus, the Holy Son of God, wasn't tied to a Cross. He was nailed to it. And He didn’t have to be. Now we’re told that darkness had fallen across the whole land. And before you logically dismiss it as a possible eclipse of the sun, notice this darkness lasted for 3 hours. And it had everything to do with the Son.
Jesus was in the final stages of His agonizing death. Over the centuries, artists have tried to capture on canvas the suffering of the Son. But I have a feeling that nothing our human mind could imagine would even come close to what Jesus was going through on the Cross. Perfect holiness... covered in filthy imperfection. Spotless righteousness... becoming the stain of sin. This was no ordinary day. This was no everyday execution.
The penalty of death had been paid in full – by the very One Who required it. God met us more than half way. As Jesus was raised up and nailed to the sky, God reached down and accepted His sacrifice. Mankind could now enter His Presence. And almost as an exclamation mark to His acceptance, God did something else.
At that moment the curtain in the Temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. Matthew 27:51
The curtain in the Temple – the literal symbol of the separation of sinful man from a holy God – was torn… from top to bottom. And that was not by accident. God was the One to break down the barrier. God was the One to open His holiness to anyone who would come to Him. I like the way the writer to the Hebrews expressed this truth…
And so, dear friends, we can boldly enter heaven's Most Holy Place because of the blood of Jesus. This is the new, life-giving way that Christ has opened up for us through the sacred curtain, by means of His death for us. Hebrews 10:19, 20
And so, this painful scene – Innocence sacrificed for the guilty – must be revisited. There is no other way to the Father. The only path for us to experience intimacy with God leads past the torn curtain, through the torn Body of Jesus.
For He is the only One who could usher us into the Presence of a Most Holy God.
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