The celebration of Easter is a well-known story with which most of us are familiar. But the life of the disciples after Jesus had risen from the grave and ascended to heaven was far different than what they expected.
After Jesus atoned for the sin of mankind on the cross, He breathed His last on the cross and gave up His spirit. The heavy veil inside the temple tore from top to bottom.
The veil in the temple was made of blue, purple, and scarlet yarn and finely twisted linen with images of cherubim angels worked into it by skilled craftsmen (Exodus 26:31, 36:35). It was hung before the Holy of Holies as a barrier to keep people out of God’s presence.
The presence of the cherubim on the veil symbolized the guardian role the angels played in the kingdom of God. The cherubim were not the popular image of a child-like angel known as a cherub. A cherubim guarded the tree of life after Adam and Eve sinned with a flaming sword to keep them away from it. The cherubim woven into the veil symbolized angels guarding the way into the sanctuary of God within the Holy of Holies. It was God’s way of saying, “Stop! No way!”
So the veil’s primary function was to separate the rest of the temple from the Holy of Holies. Only once per year, on the Day of Atonement (Lev. 16:11-28), the high priest was allowed beyond the veil into the Holy of Holies to sprinkle the blood of the sacrifice for the people’s sin onto the mercy seat which rests on the Ark of the Covenant which held the tablets with the Ten Commandments.
The veil was a physical and visual barrier protecting the priests from the lethal presence of an all-holy God. Access to God was strictly prohibited because of His holiness. But at Jesus’ death, God tore the veil from the top to the bottom, because now God no longer separated Himself from mankind. Rather, He now offers Himself through His Son, Jesus Christ. Instead of God saying “No way!” He now says, “One Way!”
Now, because of Jesus’ death and resurrection, we have not only permission to enter into God’s presence (Hebrews 10:19), but we can do so with confidence. Jesus is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. On this day of atonement Jesus became our Passover Lamb, who was sacrificed for the sin of the world and all who trust in His finished work on the cross may now come freely into the very presence of God.
Jesus has ushered in a new covenant and inaugurated the kingdom of God on earth. Before Jesus’ death, the disciples thought that the kingdom of God would function basically the same way the world’s kingdoms functioned. So, James and his brother, John, came to Jesus with a request in Mark 10:37, saying, “Grant that we may sit one on Your right and one on Your left in Your glory (Your kingdom).”
These disciples thought Jesus was going to reign as King over the people of Israel in that day and they wanted be His two best vice-regents. In their minds they would have power, authority and rule over others in Jesus’ kingdom.
The world’s kingdoms teach that those who have authority will rule over other people and will be served by the people. But Jesus taught that the people of His kingdom will be despised and rejected by men and will serve those who despitefully use them. Scripture gives us the words of Jesus in Mark 10:42-44: “Calling them to Himself, Jesus said to them, ‘You know that those who are recognized as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them; and their great men exercise authority over them. But it is not this way among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant; and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be slave of all.’” (NASB)
As Christians who serve God now beyond the veil, we are the servants of all. Because even Jesus, who is the Lord of glory, did not come to be served, but came to serve and give His life as a ransom for many.
Let’s eagerly serve our King Jesus this Easter and always by serving others, even if it’s only through reaching out to others online, sending a card, making a call, or lifting them in prayer. Jesus deserves all glory, honor, and worship, and serving others in His name is truly an act of worship. One day we will co-reign with the Lord when He establishes His kingdom fully on earth. But today we can, and must, give Him our praise, our worship, and our service, which He so richly deserves!
All glory be to our Lord and King, Jesus!
In Him, Pastor Rob