Torn Curtain. Take A Peek.
#TornCurtainTakeAPeek is the podcast for April 16, 2017. When the curtain in the Temple was torn in two and the dead starting walking out of their tombs, something was going on, seriously. It was cosmic and earthy at the same time. It was all about us, really, or was it about how the Father looks at us now? Or, was it about what Jesus just did or who he is? All of the above. Listen here and find out more: Download it into your phone. #Matthew28 #Matthew #Death #Resurrection #AdmirableExchange #GodMan #DeadRaised #EternalSacrifice #GodHasForgivenBeforeYouAsk #Forgiveness #Restoration #Goodness #Kindness #Easter #HeIsRisen
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For My Spiritual Advisor, this is Mark Kurowski with a reflection for Sunday, 4/13/2017 Easter Sunday.
Please pause this audio and read Matthew 28:1-10.
When we last heard of Jesus, he was dead, in a tomb, humiliated beyond measure. He was alone, everyone had deserted him. He had been beaten, stabbed, had nails hammered through his hands and feet. His Crucifixion stood as a testimony to the power of government, religious hierarchies, and jealousy. All seemed lost. Yet, we should have known something was up with God. Even at the Crucifixion, there was this:
The curtain of the temple was torn in two…many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised…they went into the city and appeared to many…
Here is what we need to remember about this: The curtain in the Temple separated the Holy of Holies from the inner sanctuary of the Temple. It was the place where God was present. It was the place where the High Priest entered one time per year, on Yom Kippur, to ask forgiveness from the Lord. Yet, with the death of Jesus, the curtain was torn in two, making access to God open for all. How is this so? It is because of who Jesus is. He crossed the divide between God and humanity. We will get to that later.
Next, the faithful were raised from the dead. In fact, the scripture passage said that they rose from the dead the moment he died. When he breathed his last, the earth shook, the dead were raised. Before Jesus Christ, it was highly controversial whether the dead would be raised. There is a reason why it is that Jesus’ death raised people from the dead. It is the same reason that the curtain was torn in two. We will get to that later.
What I want you to notice here is that after everyone had left him to die by himself, in humiliation. The response of Jesus Christ is not like humanity. When we are deserted by those who should have our backs and love us, we desert them. “Once burned, twice shy.” Yet, that is not what we see with Christ. As women approach his tomb to pay homage to him, he sends an angel to announce that he is risen. Does the message say, “Tell those good for nothing idiots that I am on their trail. They left me to hang on a cross and die alone. They are going to get theirs!”? No, the response of Christ is to seek out those who deserted him. The actions of Christ are forgiveness.
The first good news on this Easter Sunday is that when Christ is risen, there is forgiveness for even those who betrayed him. There is a second chance, and a third chance, and a fourth chance, and a fifth chance with Jesus Christ. His message is to gather, the brothers, not disciples, or apostles, but his brothers, so that we can get this Good News show on the road. The message: there is forgiveness for everyone. When we say, “He is Risen!” we are saying there is forgiveness for even the lowest of the low, the betrayers.
Aren’t there things you have done that no one else knows about, but you hear them calling your name, sometimes all day? Do they weigh you down? Do they distract you from being loving, kind, generous, and good to others? No matter what you do, they are dogging you like, well a dog! That is because the spirit within (us) you remembers. It has a long memory. It tracks (us) you down, weighs (us) you down. (We) You are a spiritual person(s) who (are) is living out (our) your spirituality in a physical body (physical bodies). That has implications. Our sins that we commit are committed in the spirit and the flesh, and vice versa. There is no action anyone does with their body that is not done with their soul and spirit. Of all the beings created on earth, we are the only ones who are stuck in that between space of being both earthly and animated by the spirit. The offenses that we commit are not just committed toward others. They are also committed against God in the spiritual, permanent, and eternal realm.
This spiritual offense of our sins is why the High Priest entered the Temple, pushed aside the curtain, and entered the Holy of Holies each year on Yom Kippur. He entered to seek forgiveness of sins. He sought to ask God’s forgiveness for how we don’t keep him first in our lives. He sought forgiveness for how we don’t keep a Sabbath, how we kill with our thoughts and our hands, how we steal, fail to honor our parents and family, lust and ruin other families with our lust, the list goes on and on. These are all offenses against one another, but they are also offenses against God.
Jesus is both God and man, fully and completely. He is the Divine who was born our birth, walked our walk, talked our talk, lived our life, and died our death. In the Garden of Gethsemane, the human will of Jesus, unlike Adam before him, agreed to die so that the Sacrifice offered on the cross would not be an earthly body alone, but be an eternal heavenly body offered. It is an eternal body offered eternally for all sins, for all times, beginning of story.
The Sacrifice of Christ has no need for a curtain to separate God from humanity. Sins will no longer impact the relationship the Father has with us. He has dealt with that, there is no need for him to hold anything against us anymore. Do we receive it?
As Jesus gathers those who deserted him when he hung on the Cross, so the Father in heaven gathers humanity to Galilee, even those who deserted him in Eden. Forgiveness is for all, forever. It is not once per year, it is for every moment. We can now appropriate God’s forgiveness all the time through Jesus Christ, who is the eternal High Priest, who comes to us everywhere, and who gathers us to receive forgiveness. This is the Father we serve, the God of forgiveness. We are to be a community of forgiveness.
Then, there are the people, at the moment of His death, who were raised from the dead. In ethics, there is a concept called the “paradox of hedonism.” It is the phenomena that people who are selfishly concerned with just themselves tend to have less happy, less satisfying lives. Their inward turn upon themselves kills them. Selfishness is a sin. Only humanity could elevate selfishness to an ethical system, an economic system, and a political system, but we have. When we live them out to their natural end, we have less happiness, fewer people economically well off, and fewer people with any real freedom to live. Selfishness, or sin, kills. This is what is meant by, “the wages of sin is death.”
Sin kills. So, when the antidote for sin, an eternal sinless man, offers himself as the lamb of God, without blemish, to take away the sins of everyone in the world, there is no more death. For us, who believe, death has no hold on us. It is not our permanent future. We will rise again, on the last day, and it was this death and Resurrection, which paved the way. So, when we say, “He is Risen!” He IS Risen, Indeed, and so are we. This is incredibly good news.
Gather the lost and lonely, the sinful and shunned, the betrayers and the betrayed, the needy and rich, for on THIS DAY, the proclamation is for all of us to meet in Galilee of the Nations. The Crucified One has risen from the dead and wants us to meet him rejoicing for death has no more hold on us; forgiveness of sins is offered to all. Rejoice, and be glad, for ours is the Kingdom of God.
He is Risen! He is Risen, indeed! Amen.
This audio is under the copyright of My Spiritual Advisor, Incorporated and may not be used, reduplicated, or distributed for commercial use without the express written consent of My Spiritual Advisor, Incorporated. My Spiritual Advisor, Incorporated, 2017.
Mark Kurowski, M.Div.
Spiritual Director, Author, Blogger, Podcaster, Theologian