HAPPY EASTER TO YOU!!!
The entire story of Easter is so amazing! It’s all so super dramatic. There are so many scenes… all of them so significant and all of them leading up to what would be the most priceless gift mankind could ever receive!
One of these amazing scenes is found in Luke 23:44-47.
44, 45… “It was now about noon, and darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon, for the sun stopped shining. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two.
46… Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Father, into Your hands I commit My spirit.” When He had said this, He breathed His last.
47… The centurion, seeing what had happened, praised God and said, “Surely this was a righteous man.””
- “…the sun stopped shining” [v. 45]
The scene described in verses 44 and 45 is astounding. The sun stopped shining at about noon.
The Creator and Controller of all things was making a statement about how big the event unfolding before them was. This extraordinary phenomenon, on its own, should have made the people aware that something big was happening. The sun had stopped shining at noon!
I pray that when God sends us signs so huge, we don’t ignore or miss them or label them coincidences or accidents.
- “…the curtain of the temple was torn in two.” [v. 45]
That curtain represented the barrier to reaching God on a personal individual level. It was the symbol of what hampered anyone–however righteous–who was not High Priest from attaining the height of reaching God by himself/herself.
That curtain, as it stood, separated the Holy of holies [where only the High Priest could go] from the Holy Place [where only the priests could go]. Beyond these two places in the Temple were the Men’s court [where only Jewish men could go] and the Women’s court [where only Jewish women could go] and then the Court of the Gentiles [where the rest could be]. Talk about exclusive!
That curtain torn represented direct access to the MOST Holy Place [Hebrews 10:19-20 NIV], a place much greater than the Holy of Holies: the THRONE of God, where God Himself is. That curtain torn gave us something better than access to the Holy of Holies [where the Ark of the covenant was]; it gave us access to God [Hebrews 10:19-22 AMP].
What separated us from God was sin. The barrier [as represented by the curtain] was very necessary. That barrier kept the people separated from a God so holy and perfect that He could only dwell in a place most sacred and accept into His presence only a person well purified–a person who would not desecrate that one sacred place where His perfectly unblemished presence could abide. If that sacred place was compromised, it meant death–even for a High Priest who was not thoroughly consecrated!
What Jesus did was pay the price for sin once for all [Romans 6:10 NIV; Hebrews 10:10 TPT; Hebrews 7:27 NLT]. That meant anyone could come before God. That meant that even if you walked into His presence blemished, because the price was available [that could be paid] to make you as perfect as was required, you would survive entering into His presence. That is why even the vilest of us can come to God and ask Jesus to save us while in our vile state. The price that Jesus paid was for all. Whosoever will may come!
This picture is even more dramatic in Matthew’s account in Matthew 27:50-51 NIV:
“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. The earth shook, the rocks split”
Historical accounts tell us that this was not a curtain easily handled. The curtain was torn from top to bottom. There is no doubt in my mind that God did the tearing. God set the restrictions [about who could come into His presence and he set these restrictions to protect man-we see an example of this in Exodus 19:10-12,14 NIV]; He Himself cleared those restrictions by His Son’s great sacrifice.
Even though God was eager to see man restored to Himself, God didn’t compromise the standards required to pay the debt because it would be costly to Him; He ensured that the price, costly as it was, was paid and then He set things in motion to restore us into relationship with Him like He had always desired.
This verse, Matthew 27:50-51 NIV, makes it so clear to me how eager God is for personal relationship with the people He created. Matthew’s account tells us that right at the moment Jesus died, the curtain was torn. God wasted no time in making it clear that the old order of things, in regard to access to Him, had become obsolete.
I like to think of the gift of Easter as the Gift of DIRECT access to God!
Take advantage of the gift of direct access. Understand that it hasn’t always been this way. Since Jesus’ sacrifice, mankind has come a long way; we can now speak to God from anywhere, at any time, about anything. We have access to the Word of God in a way that is unprecedented. Bibles are not the scarce commodities they once were; God’s word is accessible with the click of an icon on mobile devices.
- “Father, into Your hands I commit my spirit.” [v. 46]
FATHER… Jesus makes clear the fact of His relationship with God here. He knows the One He is about to speak these words to: Into Your hands I commit my spirit…
Commit is defined as transferring something to (a state or place where it can be kept or preserved).
Jesus gives His spirit into God’s safekeeping. I can’t imagine that there’s anyone better suited to this responsibility than GOD, the Creator and Giver of life to all!
When a person dies, their mortal remains go to their family. It is given to them because the deceased belongs to them. A person’s mortal remains aren’t given to another family because that family might do a better job of planning and executing their funeral; the remains go to who you belong to. It’s the same with your spirit; your spirit ultimately goes to whom you lived like you belong to.
How you live matters. Like my Pastor said in his Good Friday sermon last Friday, “God became human in order for humanity to become godly“.
Live your life like you want your spirit to go into God’s keeping.
Those who live like they belong to God will go to Him when they die.
- The centurion, seeing what had happened, praised God and said, “Surely this was a righteous man.”” [v. 47]
This was the testimony about Jesus by one of his torturers when He died. Glory be to God that the scene of Calvary left at least one person present sure of who Jesus was!
At the end of your life, what conviction would people have about who you were? I’m not talking about the half-truths and embellishments people often spout at funerals; I’m talking about what people believe [most of which they might never speak out loud] about you.
Are the people around you sure of who you are? Or are they in doubt about who you are? Have you been able to communicate your convictions to the people around you and those who come into contact with you?
Will your life end in the praise of God? Is your life turning anyone to God?
Let me conclude with Hebrews 4:14-16 NIV [with a few comments of my own in brackets].
14… “Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven [our High Priest didn’t stay dead; He arose from the grave!], Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. [because the faith we profess and live out is what will cause people to testify of who we were while we lived.]
15… For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin.
16… Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, [because the veil that blocked our access to the Holy of Holies is no longer an issue] so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”
The fact that we get salvation and direct access to God for free should not make us think that the price Jesus paid was cheap. The gift of direct access was paid for very dearly by Jesus. Cherish the gift; honour the Giver of the gift!
HALLELUJAH! WHAT A SAVIOUR!