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Summary: A sermon on the significance of the temple curtain being torn in two.

Curtains on the Temple

Matthew 27:50-53

Hebrews 9:1-10

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Pastor Brian Matherlee

I imagine that it was a beautiful day. People were milling about and some were hurrying to get things done before all the shops closed down. Maybe they knew what was going on and many probably didn’t. They didn’t have the evening news weather forecast but they could tell something weird was going on.

On the hillside, outside of town, the darkness seemed to make sense. Some had come to wait it out but many would have only watched for a little while because crucifixions could take a long time. And for those who had hoped in this one man, it must have been a crushing blow. Now the only ones left were loved ones, the disheartened faithful and soldiers. And they heard the one cry out to God.

[Read Matthew 27:50-51]

Something happened. Everyone knew that! What they wouldn’t know until later was the magnitude of the event.

Jesus told them He would tear down the temple and rebuild it and that’s exactly what He was doing.

The tearing of the temple curtain was the theological destruction of the temple in purpose and function.

Hebrews 9:1-10 spells it out for us.

Let’s make three observations of the difference this makes from the old and new covenants:

A. Awesome vs. Approachable

Heb 4:14 Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess.

Heb 4:15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin.

Heb 4:16 Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. Secret vs. Familiar

a. Secret vs. Familiar

b. Secluded vs. Open

c. Clean vs. Unclean-under Old Testament regulations people with disease and other conditions could not approach the temple or even stay with the people. They had to stay outside the camp until they were well. When Jesus came, He brought the presence of God to them.

d. Few vs. Many

i. Few-“The priests entered regularly into the outer room to carry on their ministry. But only the high priest entered the inner room.” Hebrews 9:6-7

ii. Many-Romans 5:1-2, “Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand.”

The second difference….

B. Law vs. Love

Hebrews 10:1, “The law is only a shadow of the good things that are coming.”

John 13:34-35, “A new command I give you: love one another, as I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know you are my disciples if you love one another.”

--One thing we must understand about God’s forgiveness. It has always been by grace through faith. From Adam and Abraham to the day judgment comes God’s plan has always been consistent.

--The purpose of the law is also the problem. Romans 8:3-4 teaches this very truth: “For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in sinful man, in order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit.” So what happens?

a. Don’t do vs. Do

b. Earn vs. Obey

c. Ritual vs. Righteousness

d. Dwell in vs. indwell

--I Corinthians 3:16, “Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you?”

--Ephesians 2:22, “And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.”

The final difference…

C. Dead vs. Dependable

a. “The same sacrifices repeated endlessly, year after year, [cannot] make perfect those who draw near to worship. If it could, would they not have stopped being offered? For the worshipers would have been cleansed once for all, and would no longer have felt guilty for their sins. But those sacrifices are an annual reminder of sins, because it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.” Hebrews 10:1-4

i. Dead animals can’t advocate anything. They simply pay a price.

b. I John 2:1-2, “My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.”

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