The Veil Is Torn! Draw Near to Him!
BY JACQUELINE WILLIAMS
To me, Easter is equally joyful and solemn, celebrating that we can now draw near to God, yet remembering that this is only possible through the incomparable suffering of Jesus during His life and death. I love that Easter comes around springtime, when the Earth is experiencing new life just as Christ offers believers. We can now draw near to Him and He to us, abide in Him, boldly enter the Holy of Holies, and “obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need” rather than the judgment we expect (Heb. 4:16). What an undeserved privilege!
In the Lent study Confident, Lauren Weir explains, “the longing for home is an eternal one—we’re all looking in one place or another to satisfy it” (62). I certainly would not have given us, sinners and enemies of God, another chance to come home again after the Garden. Jesus did not just die for our sins, but also because of our sins (Isa. 53:4-6). We should be without a home. AND YET, God has been mercifully and graciously working since our Fall from the Garden to redeem us and provide a way for us to dwell with Him again: from the Tabernacle to the Temple, from Jesus dwelling among men to our own bodies being indwelt with the Holy Spirit, consummating in us being together with our triune God in the eternal Holy City (Rev. 21:3)!
Jesus did not just die for our sins, but also because of our sins.
When Jesus died, “Behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom” (Matt. 27:51). The veil in the Temple separated unholy man from holy God, in whose presence man would die without permission and proper sacrifice. Imagine telling an Old Testament Israelite that God would one day let His very Spirit indwell every believer (1 Cor. 3:16)! Christ’s Sacrifice means that the veil and animal sacrifices are no longer needed. Not only is Christ our perfect Sacrifice who understands human temptation and suffering better than any other by never giving in to sin, our Great High Priest who only needed to offer Himself once for all to be the forever Mediator making intercession for us, but also Jesus is the very temple (John 2:19-21), where we go to be with God!
Christ’s final words, “Tetelestai—It is finished,” said right before the veil was torn, echo loudly during Easter and reaffirm God as so completely trustworthy. We can now rest in the truth of Jesus as the Living Word, His perfect obedience and endurance, and His finished, victorious work of redemption through His life, death, and resurrection rather than our own feeble and futile works. I think the word faithful sums up the idea: we can endure and be full of assurance and confidence in our faith (be faith-full), because He is faithful to His promises and will be forevermore!
God’s faithfulness makes our lack thereof so utterly obvious. Just like Adam and Eve, our sin still causes us to want to run and hide from God. And even though the veil is now Christ’s Sacrifice/flesh and we have access to God, we put up our own veils daily that get in the way of us drawing near to God and growing in relationship with Him: lesser hopes, desires, idols. Christ has “broken down the middle wall of partition between us [Jews and Gentiles]; having abolished in his flesh the enmity,” yet we put up our own walls of hostility with others (Eph. 2:14). We have the Holy Spirit dwelling inside of us, yet we often ignore Him and listen to and esteem others more. I have even come to realize how much we can do with good intentions (hear God’s Word, grow in knowledge of Him, serve in the church, talk about God, encourage others, and even pray) without truly drawing near to Him.
We have the Holy Spirit dwelling inside of us, yet we often ignore Him and listen to and esteem others more.
In his sermon about “The Pleasure and Plight of Drifting,” Pastor Fernandez clarifies that running as with enduring in the faith involves overcoming and disciplining your own thoughts and mind, warning against “drifting due to distraction.” To be transparent, I have always struggled with consistent, focused prayer time. I am more prone to spend time studying His Word and growing in knowledge of Him more than I am talking directly with Him and growing in relationship with Him. To rein in my easily distracted thoughts and prepare my heart for Easter, I committed to a certain amount of intentional prayer throughout each day during this Lenten season leading up to Easter. Already, more time spent drawing nearer to Him not just in study of the Word but also in prayer has helped me see more of my sin and what distracts me daily from Him and the race of faith to be run and which thoughts cause me to drift rather than draw near (Heb. 12:1). Essentially, it has moved my eyes from myself and my situations to Jesus and loving Him and others more.
When we see others outside enjoying these first warmer days of Spring, it makes us want to get out there too. Similarly, us living lives drawing near to Him makes others want to draw near too. Even though Christ is all that we need to run our race of faith well as our Living Water and Bread of Life, I am so grateful that He has graciously given us one another in the church as a gift to train together and to “exhort one another daily” (Heb. 3:13) as we love one another by proclaiming in our words and more importantly our actions: “Hold fast!” “He is risen indeed!” “Seek Him! Draw near!” “He is worth it!”