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【Message】The Curtain of the Temple was Torn
The International Congregation of St. Agnes Church, Kyoto
March 28th, 2021 Palm Sunday
Today is Palm Sunday. On this day Jesus entered Jerusalem. Many people welcomed him with leafy branches, by the Gospel of John, with palm trees (12:3). This week is called Holy Week, that is the last week of Jesus.
From Monday Jesus had been teaching in the temple. A large crowd was listening to him with delight (Mark12:37). But some Pharisees and some Herodians, the chief priests and the scribes were looking for a way to arrest Jesus by stealth and kill him.
After the Last Supper Jesus went out to the Mount of Olives with his disciples to pray. At midnight he was arrested. He was sentenced to death.
In the morning of Friday Jesus was crucified with two bandits.
Now I will read the Gospel of Mark chapter 15 beginning at verse 33.
When it was noon, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon. 34 At three o’clock Jesus cried out with a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” 35 When some of the bystanders heard it, they said, “Listen, he is calling for Elijah.” 36 And someone ran, filled a sponge with sour wine, put it on a stick, and gave it to him to drink, saying, “Wait, let us see whether Elijah will come to take him down.” 37 Then Jesus gave a loud cry and breathed his last. 38 And the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. 39 Now when the centurion, who stood facing him, saw that in this way he breathed his last, he said, “Truly this man was God’s Son!”
Let us pay attention to verse 38. When Jesus gave a loud cry and breathed his last, the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. Until that time the curtain had separated the sanctuary from other places. The sanctuary was called “the Holy of Holies”,
“The curtain of the temple was torn in two” means that the death of Jesus removed the dividing wall and opened the way to God for us.
About three years ago, Jesus was baptized by John in the river Jordan. “And just as he was coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens torn apart ”(1:10). Then the heavens were torn apart. The world of God was opened for the people. This is the first stage.
And now “The curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom.” This is the second and decisive stage. The curtain, the wall which had prevented the relation between God and us was now removed by the death of Jesus. The last cry and breath, and the death of Jesus brought the presence of God to us.
The cross shows us this.
Jesus who suffered death for us is to rise again for us on the third day.