An Open Invitation

“With a loud cry, Jesus breathed his last. The curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom” (Mark 15:37-38).

Matthew, Mark, and Luke all write about the tearing of the temple curtain – the curtain that separated the Holy Place from the Most Holy Place (the place of God’s dwelling).  Other than the fact of its tearing, they make no other point.

In the days of Moses, the curtain was made of “blue, purple and scarlet yarn and finely twisted linen, with cherubim worked into it by a skilled craftsman” (Exodus 26:31).  That curtain was replaced by Solomon when the temple was built and described as “made of blue, purple and crimson yarn and fine linen, with cherubim worked into it” (2 Chronicles 3:14).  The Jewish historian Josephus described the curtain in Herod’s day as ninety feet high and thirty feet wide.  It was a Babylonian curtain, embroidered with blue, and fine linen, and scarlet, and purple, and made with marvelous skill.  On the curtain was an image of the heavens.  That last part is important.

The writer of the book of Hebrews noted that Christ at his death entered the Most Holy Place with his own blood to obtain redemption for us all.  It is by that same blood that we too  enter into God’s presence (Hebrews 10:19).

I find it interesting that when the gospel of Mark begins, the heavens are torn open and God proclaims about Jesus: “This is my Son.”  At the end of the gospel, a curtain with the heavens depicted on them is torn open and I imagine the significance was not to announce Jesus’ divinity nor even to receive Jesus back, but to call all of us into God’s presence.

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