DayBreaks for 3/12/18 – The Message of the Torn Veil

Image result for the torn veil

DayBreaks for 3/12/18: The Message of the Torn Veil

As I write this, a couple that is very dear to me is traveling in Israel, visiting the “holy” sites and seeing with their own eyes where the incredible stories from the bible took place. I am so excited for them – after having been there twice myself, I am dying to go back – and would do so again and again and again. There is something about being there that truly makes it “alive”. You sense more than ever the price that was paid for your sin, the gratitude for what happened in that holy city reaches a fever pitch. It changes you.

Recently I was reflecting on this passage: Luke 23:44-46 (ESV) – It was now about the sixth hour, and there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour, while the sun’s light failed. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two. Then Jesus, calling out with a loud voice, said, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!” And having said this he breathed his last.

Having been in Jerusalem, I can picture the sky darkening in mid-day (notice it doesn’t say that clouds were the issue – it says that the “sun’s light faded” – that’s a miraculous occurrence). I have been on top of the temple mount and tried to picture what happened there when the veil was ripped into two (and we are told elsewhere it happened from top to bottom, indicating it wasn’t of human doing).

I have thought before of the significance of that tearing. Because the veil was there to separate the Presence from the people (it covered the entrance to the Most Holy Place where only the high priest was allowed once a year) I always assumed it simply indicated that that which separated God from man, the sin blots on our souls, had been opened so we could have access to God. And I do believe that is true, and certainly part of the meaning. But I think there was more to it, too.

A sign of deep grief for the ancient middle east (and even in some places in the modern age) is the rending, or tearing of one’s garments as a display of the anguish of heart and soul of the one grieving. It’s one thing to see the holy city and imagine the darkness. It’s another thing to see God’s heart being torn in two because of what was happening on the cross – his beloved son dying an unworthy death and of the price being paid for our forgiveness. We often think that grown men don’t cry because they are big and tough. Well, there’s nothing and no one bigger and tougher than God, and yet I think that the tearing of the veil not only represented the opening of access to God through the blood being spilled on Calvary, but also the tearing of God’s heart. The fact that it was torn from top to bottom mimics the way ancients tore their clothes in grief – and in this case, it very clearly means that God was the One who was doing the tearing. 

We don’t often think about the anguish of God. But doesn’t it make sense that if we are anguished by the brokenness in the world and by the death of our beloved friends and relatives, that God was anguished even more than we? He is perfect – in wisdom, knowledge, justice – but he certainly must also be perfect in his emotions like love, compassion, mercy – and even perfect in his grief.

We will never know the pain in the Father’s heart. We could never fathom its depths. Could it be that the sky darkened as the pain multiplied exponentially with every sin laid on the sinless one, until finally God could bear it no longer and the veil torn because of the anguish of God?

PRAYER: We often think of the anguish of Jesus on the cross, Father, but I fear we seldom think of Your anguish as You beheld that scene. May we rend our clothes in anguish over our sin that caused You such pain and turn to You in sackcloth and ashes. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

COPYRIGHT 2018 by Galen C. Dalrymple. All rights reserved.

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DayBreaks for 3/28/16 – The Barrier

DayBreaks for 3/28/16 – The Barrier

It is now the day after Easter and it can be a bit of a downer for us as Christians because we love Easter so much. We may need to be reminded that the good news didn’t stop at sundown on Easter Sunday, but it continues to roll onward like an immense, powerful, irresistible ocean. Consider this devotion from one of the staff at our church:

Mark 16:3-6

And they were saying to one another, ‘Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance of the tomb?’ And looking up, they saw that the stone had been rolled back—it was very large. And entering the tomb, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, dressed in a white robe, and they were alarmed. And he said to them: Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has risen, he is not here.

RELIGIONS OF THE WORLD share one common characteristic, performance. “What must I do to gain access to my God?” This the fundamental question that every religion seeks to answer.

Notice the question that the women asked as they were drawing near to the tomb of Jesus to anoint his body with customary burial spices (you can read the entire passage contextually in Mark 16:1-8). They asked, “Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance of the tomb?” It’s a logical question. There’s a large and heavy barrier between the women and where Jesus was assumed to be; it needed to be moved, but they did not possess the power to move it.

They rightly recognized that there was a problem—a barrier—between where they were and where they wanted to be. However, they assumed that the work that had to be done in order to remove the barrier would have to be done by human hands. This is the approach of religion…this is the default of the human heart…this is the way of performance…and this is terrible news!

Christianity is entirely different.

What the women never expected to happen, happened. God did what the women were powerless to do. And in so doing, He gave us a picture of what He does for all of us who trust in Christ. We have an immovable barrier between a holy God and us: sin. The default of our hearts is to assume that we can do enough acts of service, say enough prayers, attend enough church, care for enough orphans, share enough food, help enough people, give enough money…perform enough good to remove the barrier. Here’s the bad news: your performance will never be enough. Here’s the good news: Christ’s performance in your place will always be enough. He did what you cannot do. He rolled away the barrier of our sin by defeating the penalty of sin, death.

Our hope for access into the presence of God does not depend on our ability to move the stone of our sin. Our hope for access into the presence of God is to trust in the one who moved it for us. This is the approach of Christ…this is contrary to the human heart…this is the way of grace…and this is good news!

 

PRAYER: Lord give me strength to rest in your finished and resurrected work in my place. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

 

DayBreaks for 12/28/15 – In HIS Name, Not Mine

DayBreaks for 12/28/15: In His Name, Not Mine

“In Jesus’ name, Amen.”

That’s how Christians have ended their prayers for nearly two thousand years now.

Shakespeare once asked the question: “What’s in a name?”

Christmas is over, but my guess is that during Christmas you heard and/or read the name of Jesus many, many times. I think that’s a good thing. The name of Jesus isn’t a magical talisman, but it is important. Why? Because there is power in His name!

Jesus said: You can ask for anything in my name, and I will do it, so that the Son can bring glory to the Father. Yes, ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it! John 14:13-14 (NLT)

Let me suggest two illustrations that talk about what it means to as for something in the name of Jesus:

  • A pastor once shared about how he’d had one of those weeks when he lacked spiritual discipline. He’d prayed very little, didn’t read his Bible, didn’t talk to anyone about Jesus. At the end of the week he prayed, “I know I don’t have any right to come before you.” He then was stricken with the powerful sense that God was replying, “Well son, let’ suppose you prayed and read your Bible hours a day, served and led many to me. Would you feel like praying then?” The pastor thought to himself: I sure would! Then God said, “Son, you’re praying in your own name. If you had done all those things and more, you would have no more right to come to me than you do right now. You come in the name of my Son, you don’t come in your own name.”

Do you feel that if this past week you’d been more devout or disciplined, you’d have a “right” to pray, give, serve, etc.? If that’s how you feel, that’s self-righteousness. And, on the other hand, if you haven’t prayed because you’ve not been as devout or disciplined as you wish you had been, that’s self-righteousness, too.  The reason in both cases is you’re depending on your own merit to approach God, rather than the merit of righteousness of Christ.

  • Aaron Shust was recently describing how things work at his concerts. If his children are there, his little son likes to come back stage to see his daddy. He explained it this way: if his son comes with his own name tag on, he will be prohibited from coming back stage. But if he comes with his daddy’s name tag that says “ALL ACCESS” on it, he is let right through. Why? The difference is explained by understanding in whose name he comes.

The same is true with praying in Jesus’ name. We have no right to access the throne room of God if we come in our own righteousness or in our own name, but when we come to the Father with the ALL ACCESS pass that bears Jesus’ name, we are more than welcome!

It bothers me when I hear Christians pray but they never in the entire prayer say that they are coming or asking in Jesus’ name. There is power in a name – just ask Shakespeare.

TODAY’S PRAYER: Jesus, thank you for giving us the access pass to the Father. Guard our hearts against self-righteousness that thinks we can either come on the basis of our own goodness, or that we are too unworthy to come, but think we could have been if we’d been more devoted. Thank you, Lord, In Jesus’ name, Amen.