Rending the Veil
When I was a boy there was a swimming pool right near my house. Every afternoon during the long hot Florida summers I would trudge my way down to the pool, pay my ten cents admission, and enjoy the wonderful cool water. Then one day I arrived, reached into the pocket on my trunks, and found that the dime was not there. I begged the pool to let me in for free that day, but they refused. I will never forget looking through the fence at the cool water and wishing that there were some way that I could make myself fit through the holes in the chain link. But I could not; I was separated from the pleasure of the pool by the obstruction of the fence. I became even angrier when I heard a boy talking about how he had found a dime on the ground and was going to use it to buy ice- cream.
In today’s passage of Scripture, we learn of another obstruction. It was not a fence, but a curtain that existed in the temple of the first century. Scholars dispute the exact nature of this curtain. But we want to ask a different question: What does this curtain mean?
When Jesus died, various signs accompanied his death: darkness, earthquake, dead people raised, and the tearing of this curtain. What made God want to tear the curtain in his own house? I hope that you do not go around tearing things up in your house.
The curtain acted as a fence, to keep out those who were unworthy of being in God’s presence. When Jesus died, he paid all of our entrance fees into the presence of God. We no longer have to stand on the outside looking at the cool, clear waters of salvation, we can jump in and enjoy all of the benefits of this great gift of God. God had torn down the fence and offered free admission to those who would come in.
Yet in another sense, this admission was not free, Jesus had paid the price. Our sin is cosmic treason and places us in a position of not being able to be with God because we could never pay for it. Jesus took that debt of sin onto himself and paid what he did not owe by his painful death on the cross.
On that same day that I was standing outside of the swimming pool, my father drove by and saw me. He stopped, listened to my sad story of the lost dime, and pulled another dime out of his pocket so that I could go swimming. The fence was no longer a barrier, my father had paid the entrance fee.
On this Friday, two-thousand years ago, our Lord paid the entrance fee for us and the torn curtain is a reminder of that horrible price, paid to offer us the wonderful gift.