The Curtain of Jesus’ Body
By Mitiku Adisu
I grew up viewing beauty in Ethiopic and Byzantine architecture and icons; in sweet-smelling incense; lit yellow beeswax candles; bright multi-colored priestly robes; and in chants and a dedicated community sharing after-service meals.
As you stand facing a curtained area where only assigned priests are allowed, you sense a certain distantness, even holy terror. You are warned not to take a peek or ask too many questions. That is a hard sell when you are a teen-ager! Regardless, the running prayers, psalms, and prostrations are too engaging for such thoughts.
So did God reside behind those curtains? Why do I walk around with an anxious heart? Am I on my own upon exiting the sanctuary? How do I relate to an unapproachable God? How many angelic intercessions and gifts did it take to ease my fear of life?
Now see Jesus on the cross, crying out in a loud voice. Do you not hear the gospel? At that moment, says the apostle, "the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom." (Matthew 27:50-53) The cross is the fullest expression of God’s holy judgment on sin and of his redemptive love. Jesus on the cross is the most beautiful sight in the whole universe. "Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God." (Ephesians 5:2)
Jesus’ body was torn apart and out flowed "water and blood" (John 19:34; 1 John 5:6–8; 1 Peter 2:24). At that very moment, I was offered redemption, forgiveness of sins, and inclusion in the Body of Christ. "Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days... The temple [Jesus] had spoken of was his body. (John 2:19, 21) No need, henceforth, for a temple or for sacrifices! My body is the temple of the Holy Spirit! I am now joined to all those who have been indwelt by the Holy Spirit—with Jesus as the Head! (1 Cor. 6:19; 1 Pet. 2:4-6)
The way to God was opened wide—forever. "The one who looks at me," said Jesus, "is seeing the one who sent me." (John 12:45; 14:9) Once distant, they are now made near through Jesus. Jesus’ body shields us from God’s terrifying holiness as well as enfolds us. Anyone who comes into contact with him lives! (1 John 1: 1-4) Hallelujah!
I love and hope with all my heart that Jesus continues to pour into me through his Holy Spirit. This same Jesus "entered heaven itself, now to appear in God's presence on our behalf... so that you and I can approach God's throne of grace with confidence, [to] receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need." (Hebrews 9:24, 7:25, and 4:26) That is grace to live by, grace to share, and grace to await his return. Hallelujah!