With a loud cry, Jesus breathed his last.
The curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. And when the centurion, who stood there in front of Jesus, saw how he died, he said, “Surely this man was the Son of God!”Mark 15:37-39
The Temple had three main parts to it. First, the priests would put burnt offerings on the bronze altar in the courtyard. The courtyard is also where they would then wash with water in the wash basin made of polished bronze mirrors.
Then they would go from the courtyard into the second part of the Temple: the Holy Place. The Holy Place had gold plating all over the walls. There weren’t any windows in there, so the whole place was illuminated by the burning lamps on the lampstands. In addition to the lampstands, there was also the golden table that held the bread of Presence and the altar of incense just in front of the large curtain at the front of the room. They would burn incense every morning and every evening on the small altar of incense as a symbol of prayers going up continually before the Lord.
The priests would keep the lamps burning, light the incense morning and night, and replace the bread of Presence every sabbath, but they would never go beyond the curtain. Only the High Priest could go beyond the curtain into the Most Holy Place, and he would only do it once a year on the Day of Atonement. The very Presence of God was resting on the ark of the covenant in the Most Holy Place. To enter in an unsanctified way without permission would have resulted in the priest dropping dead before our awesome and holy God.
When Jesus paid the price on the cross for our sin, He forever removed the separation between us and God. That curtain between the Holy Place and the Most Holy Place was torn in two from top to bottom. The people were no longer separated from God, and God was no longer separated from the people. “God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ”(2 Corinthians 5:19).
And now, not only can we approach the throne of grace with confidence (Hebrews 4:16), but God Himself has busted out of the Most Holy Place to establish a new Temple. Paul reminds the Corinthian Christians, “Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in your midst?”(1 Corinthians 3:16).
The new Most Holy Place, where the very Presence of God dwells, is our spirit. Our spirit “marries” and becomes one with the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:17).
The new Holy Place is our soul–our mind, will and emotions. Our mind is the new altar of incense where our thoughts and prayers continually rise to the Father (Colossians 3:2; Philipians 4:8) . Our will is the new bread of Presence as we get nourished by doing the Father’s will, not our own (John 4:31-34). Our heart/emotions are the new lampstands giving light to the rest of our soul. The “eyes of our heart” become “enlightened”(Ephesians 1:19) and the purity of the oil burning in our heart gives us eyes to see God (Matthew 5:8).
The new courtyard is our body, the place we offer our bodies as a “living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God”(Romans 12:1). This is the place where we are not only forgiven of our sin but also “cleansed from all unrighteousness”(1 John 1:9) as we are “washed with water through the word”(Ephesians 5:26).
The curtain tearing from top to bottom not only gave us full access to God, but gave Him full access to us. “You are not your own; you were bought at a price”(1 Corinthians 6:19-20). In Christ, you are a Temple of the Holy Spirit, the new Temple of the Living God.
May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.1 Thessalonians 5:23