Journal Luke 23 (all references are from the ESV; changes in punctuation are mine)
Scripture: “It was now about the sixth hour, and there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour, while the sun’s light failed. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two. (Luke 23:44-45)
(Parallel scripture) “And the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom.” (Mark 15:38)
Observation: This is the reason why we are called to study: to notice and determine the significance of the subtleties of the Gospel narrative.
Analysis: Behold the curtain!!
Huh? What about the curtain? Well, it is one of the facets of the Gospel that doesn’t get talked about much but means that the Separation of God from Man has now been breached.
There are many facets to the Gospel. All of them are interrelated. One of the most powerful descriptions of the Gospel is found in the arrangement of the Meeting Place of God instituted in the days of Moses by God’s instruction.
The “curtain” refers to that barrier that kept common man from the Holy of Holies; only priests (a single priest every time), thoroughly consecrated by an elaborate and rigid process, could enter.
There, offerings were made to offer atonement (a significant word!!) for the people of Israel. One guy. Once per year. All by himself.
This is the significance of the Curtain torn: By the Sacrificed Lamb of God (Jesus), the Eternal High Priest (Jesus) has now become the Eternal Atonement for Creation (Jesus). With this, the Barrier (the Curtain) to the Mercy Seat (the Presence of God) has now been eliminated, demonstrated by the Holy Spirit tearing the Curtain in two. And not only in two, but from top to bottom as if a Man grabbed it and tore it, ripped it apart.
Never again will Man be prohibited or barred from approaching the Most High God. Never again will Man need an earthly Mediator (like a priest) for now there is an Eternal Mediator, an Eternal Priest: The Son of God, Jesus the Christ.
Check out Hebrews: “Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that He opened for us through the curtain, that is, through His flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our HOPE without wavering, for He who promised is faithful…” (Heb 10:19-23)
For a more complete rendering of this part of the Gospel, please see Hebrews 7-10. Also, a recommended book is “The Atonement” by Leon Morris.
Confession: I can get all into the pragmatism of the Christian faith: What to do, how to do it, and all that, and I can FORGET looking into and learning about what makes the FAITH possible.
Prayer: Lord God, thank you for the fact of the Curtain rendered in two. The mental picture of that buoys my day, makes me starry eyed of the Atonement, your Sacrifice, your power, your Mercy and Grace shown to someone like myself who does not deserve it. AMEN