This week's Easter post was curated especially for the Threshold fam from one of our long time subscribers and fantastic writer, Abigail Kaderli!
Abigail Kaderli is a native Oklahoman currently living in the Tulsa area. She cares deeply about the power of words to speak life, declare truth, and capture what it means to be human. She is passionate about the health of the local church and the spiritual formation of the next generation of young women. Abigail recently married the love of her life and proudly comes alongside his ministry of Gospel-centered residential childcare.
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Every Easter season for over a decade, my family and I set aside time to walk through our church’s Good Friday experience. Each Good Friday, the church set up “stations of the cross” to commemorate the significance of Passion Week, allowing participants to better understand and connect to the events that transpired as Jesus drew near his time of death and resurrection. A traditional Passover meal to represent the Last Supper. A pile of 30 silver coins represented Judas’ betrayal of Jesus. A hammer and several six-inch nails represented the tools used in the crucifixion. An ongoing burning of frankincense and myrrh represented the incense used in burial rituals.
The station of the Good Friday experience that moved me most deeply every year was the replication of the Holy of Holies, the innermost area of the Temple in ancient Jerusalem where the very presence of God Almighty dwelt among his people. The station’s simple setup included gentle, diffused lighting and long, translucent fabric. A richly colored, thick curtain ripped down the middle hung at the station’s entrance for people to pass through.
Why did this station belong in the experience alongside the others more readily associated with Passion Week?
We only begin to grasp the importance of the Holy of Holies in the Easter story by looking to the covenant God established with the people of Israel in the Old Testament. God gave His people precise instructions on constructing the Temple and approaching the Holy of Holies to honor His glorious presence properly and to protect sinful people from their perfect God. According to the instructions, the High Priest was the only person authorized to enter the Holy of Holies after extensive purifying rituals. He could only do so once a year at Passover to make sacrifices that would atone for the sins of the people of Israel and reestablish their right standing before God (Exodus 26:33; Leviticus 16:16). A massive curtain - 60 feet high, 30 feet wide, and one inch thick - separated the Holy of Holies from the rest of the Temple and shielded worshipers from the inestimably powerful presence of their holy God.
How does this fit into the storyline of Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday?
Matthew 27:50-51 records that at the time of Jesus’ death on the cross, he “cried out again with a loud voice and yielded up his spirit. And behold, the curtain of the Temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. And the earth shook, and the rocks were split.” Jesus Christ, the spotless Lamb of God, died around the same time the temple priests prepared the traditional Passover sacrifices. And the physical world felt the powerful impact of the ongoing, eternity-altering spiritual events.
At the moment of Christ’s death, the representative division between God Almighty and His people was ripped in half, revealing the most intimate of God’s presence without hindrance or barrier. The manner in which the curtain was torn - from top to bottom at the height of 60 feet and clean through the one-inch width - was, itself, miraculous. It served as a profoundly symbolic message from heaven that Christ’s sacrifice was perfect and complete to pay for the world’s sins.
The old covenant instructions only foreshadowed the redemption that was gloriously accomplished on the cross and represented in the tearing of the Temple veil. Through the Old Testament’s priestly service, one man - once a year - approached the very presence of God through rituals and sacrifices. Through the Easter story, one Son of Man - once for all time - offers His people unconditional access to our God on the merits of His own righteous life, sacrificial death, and resurrection victory (Hebrews 4:14-16).
For those who have not yet been reconciled to God, the way is open and welcoming for you to come by grace through faith. For those already hidden in Christ, He never-ceasingly serves as our Advocate and Great High Priest. In Christ, we are both saved from the power and penalty of sin and saved into restored communion with our Creator. And this communion no longer takes place in a singular physical location like the Temple of ancient Jerusalem, but in the innermost parts of our very selves and is seen clearly through the gathering of His Church.
We have the very Spirit of God actively dwelling in us and bearing testimony to our new identity (Romans 8:9). We have peace with God and approach Him with confidence (Romans 5:10; Hebrews 10:19-20). We have hope for our eternal future (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18). We have the joy of daily renewal that frees and transforms us to delight in the glory of God all the more (2 Corinthians 3:16-18).
Stepping through the torn curtain of the Holy of Holies replication on Good Friday was always a moment of great clarity.
It served as a humbling reminder of the weight of my sin, the immense perfection of God’s justice, and the cost of my salvation. Yet, it was also a source of hope and comfort amid the horror, betrayal, and sorrow of Passion Week. Christ’s sacrificial death is enough. It is finished. Our victory is secured.
The Gospel we proclaim is earth-moving, veil-tearing, eternity-changing good news of our God, who will stop at nothing to claim His people for Himself. Doesn’t that make the utter joy of Resurrection Sunday all the richer?
May our awe of the Easter story bring us to our knees in adoration all year round. May we behold God’s glory with delight and allow it to transform the desires and purposes of our hearts. May He keep us steadfast until we behold our Savior face-to-face without any obstacle, fear, or hindrance of sin and join heaven’s song of worship for time without end.