Well I’ve Never Heard of That
And behold, the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. Matthew 27:51
It’s not uncommon for a patient to come to the clinic with an incorrect self-diagnosis. He doesn’t want my opinion. He just wants the treatment he looked up on the internet. I’ll attempt to rectify the misdiagnosis, at which point I’ll inevitably hear, “Well, I’ve never heard of that.” To this, I want to sarcastically respond, “You’re right of course. If you’ve never heard of it, then it obviously isn’t real.” I don’t respond that way . . . but I want to.
I’ve done the same thing though. If I don’t understand something, I often just dismiss it as irrelevant. In today’s passage, at the moment of Christ’s death, the temple veil or curtain was torn in two. The veil had previously separated a sinful people from the apparently lethal presence of a holy God, but due to Jesus’ sacrificial death, the veil was removed. We can now live our entire lives in God’s magnificent presence.
Why did God require an animal sacrifice in the old days? Why did Jesus have to die on the cross for my sins? Why did God create a system in which he had to go to such lengths just so we could have a relationship? Because I don’t have all the answers, I’m tempted to dismiss the tearing of the curtain as irrelevant.
It’s not irrelevant though. I may not be able to explain it all, but I must understand what it means practically for my daily life. God doesn’t require my approval and he doesn’t hold me responsible to explain certain mysteries. He does, however, require my obedience. What the torn curtain means to me now, is that instead of pursuing my self-destructive ways, I am free to turn from my path, living continually in the presence of God, following him.
God created us for a personal relationship with him. Only in that relationship do we find the answers to life’s greatest needs. He loves us and wants to spend time with us. This should motivate me to live a profoundly different life. It’s a mystery that I’ve not yet fully grasped, but still, I’m working on it, daily reading, praying, and meditating. As Jesus said, the first and greatest commandment is to love God with all that we are. Daily then, it is our greatest priority and privilege to spend time with him.