"Alleluia! Sing to Jesus"
"Alleluia! King eternal, Lord omnipotent we own; Alleluia! Born of Mary, earth Your footstool, heav'n Your throne. As within the veil You entered, robed in flesh, our great High Priest, Here on earth both priest and victim in the eucharistic feast."
In the Jerusalem temple, a heavy veil or curtain separated the Most Holy Place, the place of God's presence, from the rest of the sanctuary. The curtain was created out of blue, purple, and scarlet fabric and woven with angelic figures of cherubim. Hidden from sight behind the veil was the symbol of the divine presence, the ark of the covenant. Only the high priest entered the Most Holy Place, carrying blood to atone for his own sins and the sins of the people (see Hebrews 9:3-7).
During Jesus' earthly ministry, He visited the great temple that had been rebuilt by King Herod. When He was 12 years old, Jesus sat with the teachers in the temple, listening and asking questions. He knew where He needed to be, saying to His anxious parents, "Did you not know that I must be in My Father's house?" (Luke 2:49b). As an adult Jesus taught in the temple courtyards and porches. He drove the money-changers from the temple, cleansing His Father's house for prayer.
In the temple that Jesus knew, the rich, woven curtain, which may have been 60 feet high and four inches thick, still hung before the Most Holy Place. That heavy veil separated sinners from God's holy presence, but when Jesus died on the cross, "the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom" (Mark 15:38). Through Jesus' atoning death, the dividing barrier between God and sinners was brought down. In ancient Israel only the high priest could enter through the curtain into God's presence, and only once a year. But now we enter God's holy presence through Jesus Himself, through "the new and living way that He opened for us through the curtain, that is, through His flesh" (Hebrews 10:20).
At any time, day or night, we can come before God in worship and prayer. We also enter God's presence as Jesus, our great High Priest, invites us to His holy Supper. At the "eucharistic feast," that is, the feast of thanksgiving, Jesus is present as "both priest and victim" as we receive His body and blood, given and shed for the forgiveness of our sins. In the Sacraments, in the study of His Word, in worship and in prayer, we freely enter God's presence because He once entered our presence in the Person of His Son. Through Jesus' redeeming death, the dividing curtain was torn down. The way is now open.
WE PRAY: Heavenly Father, hear my prayers for the sake of Jesus, our great High Priest. Amen.
This Daily Devotion was written by Dr. Carol Geisler. It is based on the hymn, "Alleluia! Sing to Jesus," which is number 821 in the Lutheran Service Book.
1. Why was only the high priest allowed in the Most Holy Place?
2. What's the significance of the temple curtain being torn in two when Jesus died on the cross?
3. Why is Jesus' sacrifice sufficient for the forgiveness of our sins before God the Father?
Today's Bible Readings: 2 Samuel 13-14 John 4:1-26
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