In the animated movie “Shrek,” the dragon blocks access to Princess Fiona, who is being held captive in the tallest tower of the Dragon’s Keep castle. In “The Lord of the Rings,” the Doors of Durin bar entrance into Moria. In “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade,” Sir Richard the Grail Knight guards the biblical artifact, which is said to have supernatural powers, and he must be defeated in single combat to gain access to the Holy Grail. In “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe,” a magical wardrobe either opens or prohibits entry into Narnia.
These are just a few examples of stories that contain distinctive barriers blocking the way to a desired location. In both the Old and New Testaments, we find another barrier that blocks the way leading into the most important location in the universe: the earthly presence of Almighty God. In the Tabernacle — and later in the Temple — there was a special, finely woven veil, fashioned from blue, purple, scarlet and white twisted linen, approximately four inches think, that separated the Holy Place (where the priests would perform their daily functions), from the Most Holy Place (the earthly dwelling place of God’s presence, which was evidenced by His Shekinah-glory above the Mercy Seat). Only once a year, on the Day of Atonement, could that veil be passed through — and then only by the High Priest — allowing immediate access into the presence of God in order to make atonement for the sins of God’s people.
In Solomon’s temple, the veil was 30 cubits (or 45 feet) high; that height was increased to 40 cubits by Herod in the first century, making it 60 feet high. The height and thickness of this veil makes what happened on Good Friday as profound as it is personal: “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 and the rocks split” (Matthew 27:50-51).
Make no mistake, if the earthquake that shook the ground had anything to do with the tearing of the veil, it would have been torn from the ground up. But that’s not what happened! It’s as if the mighty hand of God reached down from heaven and tore this 60-foot high, four-inch-thick veil, ripping open the barrier that had stood between God and sinners like you and me.
Only God could remove our separation from God! God made it abundantly clear that the expiration date of the Temple had arrived. Jesus was the true Temple (John 2:19), the superior High Priest (Hebrews 4:14), and the perfect veil (Hebrews 10:20). The veil in the temple was a constant reminder that our sin separates us from a Holy God. When the veil was torn, God the Father accepted the sacrifice of God the Son on behalf of all sinners who will trust, by grace through faith, in Jesus Christ alone for eternal life. All-Access to the Almighty has been granted.
When Jesus said He is the way, the truth and the life, and that no one comes to the Father except through Him (John 14:6), He meant what He said! Jesus is the only way, the only truth and the only life. You and I can enter into the presence of Almighty God, thanks to Jesus’ once-for-all sacrifice, which made it possible for all of us, people from every tribe and language and people and nation, to enter into the presence of God twenty-four hours a day, three-hundred-sixty-five days a year. All-Access to the Almighty has been granted.
And please hear this! It doesn’t matter who you are or what you’ve done; Jesus receives all those who seek Him by grace through faith. Confess your sins and receive your salvation. Your background is not a barrier keeping you from standing on Holy Ground. You do not need a priest or a pastor to enter into the presence of God on your behalf to beg for His forgiveness or ask for His favor. Because of the blood Jesus shed on the cross, the wages for our sins has been paid in full. When Jesus said, “It is finished!” He meant what He said. His saving work on your behalf was complete. All you need do now is trust in the One who did it all for you.
This was the truth that came crashing home to me in 1995 and transformed my life: the truth that a dead Man got up and walked out of the grave. He walked out of that grave and into my heart. Has He walked into yours?
Dear one, do you remember Jesus’ very first words to His disciples when He appeared to them after His resurrection? “Peace be with you” (Luke 24:36, John 20:19). He rose from the grave to give them — and you — peace with God.
“Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation . . .” (Colossians 1:21-22).
Jesus Christ lived and died and rose from the grave to “destroy the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility” (Ephesians 2:14) that once existed between you and God. But now, today, in Christ Jesus, you are free . . . you are welcome . . . you are invited to approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that you may receive mercy and find grace to help you in your time of need (Hebrews 4:16).
This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!
Dr. Tommy Boland is senior pastor of Cross Community Church in Deerfield Beach (www.thecrosscc.org). He blogs regularly at tommyboland.com.