“And behold, the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. And the earth shook and the rocks were split.”
– Matthew 27:51
Matthew 27:51 is an amazing verse. Like, so much of the Old Testament in the Bible has been building to this moment. In the Old Testament, we see God dwelling among his people in a tabernacle, in a temple. And at the center of the tabernacle and the center of the temple is the holy of holies, the place where the glory of God dwells in the middle of his people.
This Verse Reminds Us Jesus Reconciled Us to God
Jesus gave Himself in the place of sinners to reconcile us to God. Through Christ’s work, we are no longer separated from the presence of God.
And there is a curtain that separates those outside the holy of holies from this place where the presence of God dwells. Only the high priest, and only he at certain times, can go into the holy of holies to offer sacrifice for sin. And he doesn’t stay in there long. He gets out as soon as possible.
He even has bells tied to his leg so that people outside can hear him moving around. And if the bells, if the sound stops, then that would be a clear sign that the priest has been struck down and they would pull him out, they had a rope tied to his foot, they could pull him out without having to go in there.
This was the place where the holy God dwells among his people. And when Jesus died on the cross, this is the very next verse after Jesus cried out with a loud voice and yielded up his spirit. At that moment, the curtain of the temple was torn in two. The way was made open, in that moment, for sinners by the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross for their sin to enter into the presence of God. Not just a high priest, but you, me.
Matthew 27:51 Reminds Us We Can Dwell With God
Despite all our sin that should condemn us before God, that should separate us from God for all of eternity, we all deserve to be separated from him forever. And yet, because Jesus has died on the cross for us, the invitation has been given, the way has been open for you and me to come into the presence of God, to dwell in the presence of God. For him to dwell in us, for our bodies to become a temple of his Holy Spirit. All because of what Jesus did on the cross.
Matthew 27:51 Reminds Us to Come Before God Rightly
And so, right now, when we pray, as we’re about to pray, we’re going to come before God together and we can come before God freely. Why? Because Jesus has paid the price for us. We don’t have to go indirectly through a priest over here going into the holy of holies for us. We can come into the presence of the holy God of the universe by the blood of Jesus shed for our sins.
This Verse Leads Us to Thank God
So we pray with awe, with wonder, with gratitude. Oh, God, thank you. Jesus, thank you. Thank you for dying on the cross for our sins. And thank you for rising from the dead in victory over sin. God, Thank you for new life in your presence. Thank you for the privilege of prayer and for the privilege of relationship with you. God, thank you that we know you, that we walk with you, that you are with us, that you dwell by your Spirit in us. These sinful bodies that you have indwelled with your Holy Spirit. All glory be to your name for this privilege of prayer. For the privilege of relationship with you, a privilege that will last forever. That one day we will be with you forever.
Jesus, thank you for making this a reality for us. Help us to live in this. God, help us not to neglect prayer. Help us to experience all that you’ve designed for us in prayer. God, help us to experience all that you’ve designed for us in day by day, moment by moment fellowship with you, communion with you, with your Spirit in us. Our lives before you.
God, thank you. Thank you doesn’t seem anywhere near sufficient. We just say it over and over and over again. Thank you. We praise you. We worship you. And we pray that you would help us, help us by your Spirit in us to live lives of holiness. The holiness that’s been bought for us by the blood of Jesus.
May it be so today, we pray. In Jesus’ name and by Jesus’ blood we pray, Amen.