Posted in Stories

Come on in!

“Scenes from the passion” Lent devotion for Thursday, April 1, 2021. Photo by Kelli McClintock on Unsplash.

The curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. (Mark 15:38)

All it takes is one sign stating “Do Not Enter” to make you wonder, “What’s behind that door?” You try the doorknob, don’t you? Just in case someone forgot to lock it. Or a padded rope is draped across the bottom of a staircase. What do you think is up there? Want to find out? Do you think they would mind? Is anyone watching?

I imagine many were curious about the curtain draped in front of the holiest place in the tabernacle and then the temple in Jerusalem. Only the high priest, on the annual day of Atonement, could go behind that barrier. What do you think it was like back there? No one really knew.

Until today.

When Jesus breathed his last and died, “the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom.” The whole thing split in two and now anyone could walk right up and see what was back there. That moment speaks volumes about the significance of Jesus’ death.

You see, one does not simply walk into God’s office. One does not even make an appointment. Sinful people do not want an audience with God. Just ask Adam and Eve, who hid in the bushes. Or Isaiah, who one day found himself in the throne room (Isaiah 6). Or Peter, when he realizes who asked him to cast his net on the other side of the boat. Or Paul who gets knocked off his horse by the very Jesus he is persecuting.

When I was growing up, you did not walk into the pastor’s office. You felt like you would need to take off your shoes before stepping onto holy ground. I looked in the door one time. I wondered what all those books were for. I wondered why it smelled like tobacco. And what was all that mess on his desk?

That all changed one day when I got the job as church janitor. My duties included cleaning the pastor’s office. I emptied the trash, cleaned out the ash trays, vacuumed the carpet and dusted the book shelves. After the first few times it wasn’t such a big deal.

It wasn’t such a big deal when I became a pastor and I had an office. I was glad to have all those books. Authors much smarter than me helped me make sense of the bible. No tobacco, though. I’ve never smoked. And it seemed like someone was always in my office. Some would walk in just to say hello. Youth would be hanging out. My children (and now grandchildren) would be playing with my collection of children’s sermon props.

Since Jesus died and paid for our sin, we can just walk right in and be with God. His death tears down the barrier between us and God, and nothing can ever separate us from his love. The torn curtain in the temple testifies to that reality. We can approach his throne with confidence, knowing that we will find grace there!

Heavenly Father, don’t let me ever forget that the curtain was torn. It is so nice to know I can come to you anytime. Amen.

Posted in Lent devotions

Jesus in the middle of my mess

“Scenes from the passion” Lent devotion for Friday, March 26, 2021. Photo by Ricardo Viana on Unsplash.

And with [Jesus] they crucified two robbers, one on his right and one on his left. (Mark 15:27)

On most days, I don’t believe Jesus minded hanging out with robbers. He didn’t mind the company of sinners and tax collectors. He was OK with lepers, blue-collar fishermen, Samaritans, Canaanites and Gentile hog-farmers. He was just one of the guys, or as the Old Testament put it, “numbered with the transgressors.” When the Word became flesh to dwell among us, “us” included these two criminals who were crucified that day with Jesus.

These two men might never have met Jesus were it not for their shared sentence. Jesus didn’t spend time with those on death row. Not until today, the day of their execution, their last day alive.

Continue reading “Jesus in the middle of my mess”