Palm Sunday is also known as Passion Sunday because it begins the time when we focus on what happens after the Hosannas, after the Triumphal entry. Very shortly after Jesus enters Jerusalem with great celebration, there is a quick descent into disaster. He is arrested, tried, and sent to the cross.
The Death of Jesus
At noon, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon. And at three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”).
When some of those standing near heard this, they said, “Listen, he’s calling Elijah.”
Someone ran, filled a sponge with wine vinegar, put it on a staff, and offered it to Jesus to drink. “Now leave him alone. Let’s see if Elijah comes to take him down,” he said.With a loud cry, Jesus breathed his last.The curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. And when the centurion, who stood there in front of Jesus, saw how he died, he said, “Surely this man was the Son of God!” ~Mark 15:33-39 New International Version (NIV)
Many times we focus on the death of Christ itself, indeed, this is a powerful description of the Great King who rode into town in celebration now being tortured to death. But look at verse 38. It is in this simple verse that we receive a more powerful description of what Christ's death did for us.
The curtain was torn. What is the significance here? Until this moment, the curtain set apart "The Holy of Holies" from the rest of the temple. This was God's dwelling place. Only the High Priest could enter this sacred space, could come close to God. It was religion at a distance.
When Jesus dies on the cross, the curtain was torn- from top to bottom. Not only was this veil, this barrier removed, but its removal was initiated from the top down. God to his people.
Jesus gave up his life for us with a loud shout and becomes the sacrificial lamb for the sins of the world. We are not just 'washed in the blood of the lamb' or forgiven, but this also means GOD IS NO LONGER DISTANT. You are as close to God as your own breath and this is revolutionary. Prior to this, getting close to God was dangerous. But when the curtain was torn, the presence of God is the safest place to be. We do not have to be timid about approaching God. We can approach the throne of grace with confidence.
Here's the thing. We all grow up with a curtain, a barrier that makes it seem like we are distant from God. From the very first sin in the Garden by Adam and Eve, there has been a barrier between God and his people. They built the barrier with fig leaves, but we build our own barriers too- shame, addiction, our own sin or circumstances. We believe these barriers are God's, but their not. He removed the barrier when His Son, Jesus, died on the cross. The curtain is torn, the barrier is gone and nothing can separate us from His love. NOTHING.
What is holding you back from coming into the presence of God? What is the barrier that keeps you from the peace of the Lord? We pray that during this week you will understand that Christ's death on the Cross was for you, the curtain was torn, all barriers are gone, and God is waiting for you to come close to Him. He has done all the work, you can just dwell in His presence, experience His peace, and take it with you into every moment of your life.
-This post was written by the Southside UMC Communications Team from the sermon notes of Pastor Bruce Jones