Monday, September 22, 2014

SERMON: A new covenant was born

By DAVID BILDERBACK, Special to The Ottawa Herald | 4/11/2014

One of the texts used for Holy Week is Matthew 27:50-53.

Set at the time of Jesus’ death on the cross, it reads, “And 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. The tombs broke open and the bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life. They came out of the tombs, and after Jesus resurrection, they went into the holy city and appeared to many people.”

One of the texts used for Holy Week is Matthew 27:50-53.

Set at the time of Jesus’ death on the cross, it reads, “And 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. The tombs broke open and the bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life. They came out of the tombs, and after Jesus resurrection, they went into the holy city and appeared to many people.”

Christ’s death was accompanied by four miraculous events: darkness, the tearing in two of the curtain in the temple, an earthquake and dead people rising from their tombs. I will limit my discussion to the tearing in two of the curtain.

To understand the significance of this event, we must understand Jewish religious customs. The temple had three main parts: the courts, the Holy Place, where only the priests could enter, and the Most Holy Place, where only the high priest could enter once per year to atone for the sins of the nation.

The tearing in two of the curtain symbolizes the end of the Old Covenant and the beginning of the New Covenant. No longer was direct access to God limited. The old system of sacrifice was temporary and performed by a priest who ministered on Earth, used the blood of animals, required many sacrifices of perfect animals and required a careful approach to the tabernacle. This system also was limited to Jewish people.

With the tearing in two of the curtain, a New Covenant was born. The new system of sacrifice is permanent; Jesus is the high priest, He ministers in heaven, He shed his blood one time and allows us to confidently approach the throne. The Schofield Study Bible states that, “The tearing of the curtain signified that a new and living way was opened for all believers into the very presence of God.”

The key phrase is “A new and living way was opened for all believers.”

In 1st Timothy 2:5-6, Paul writes, “For there is one God and one mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself as a ransom for all men-the testimony given in its proper time.”

Believe Jesus when He says He is “the way, the truth and the life.”

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