I marvel at the masterful storytelling we find within the full body of Scripture. No story is truly contained within itself. Rather, every account is a small fraction of the whole, springing out of what has already happened before, and pointing toward events to come.
As we finish our survey of the Old Testament and prepare to step into the New, we see that even this whole is a part of a larger story still waiting to be told. Every history, law, wisdom, prophecy, and poem recorded in the Old Testament is used by God, the greatest storyteller, to prepare the scene of history for the coming of the Christ and the New Covenant that will be made through Him.
To depict this reality, I chose to draw a familiar scene from the moment of Jesus’ death. Matthew writes in his Gospel record that “at that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom” (Matt. 27:51). While the temple had various curtains and coverings, we understand that Matthew is referring to the curtain that separates the Holy from the Most Holy Place.
Adorned with cherubim and masterfully woven with threads of scarlet, blue, and gold, this curtain was used to both cover the Ark of the Covenant during transportation, and to shield the eyes of the priests from gazing upon the glory of God as He came to settle upon the mercy seat above the Ark in the Holy of Holies. Only one man was permitted through this curtain – the high priest – and this only once a year, and never without blood (Heb. 9:7). The curtain remained closed at all other times, as a barrier between the Most Holy God and man, for as God says to Moses in Exodus 33:20, "'you cannot see my face, for man shall not see my face and live'".
But Christ came as our great High Priest, to fulfil the law and to mend the separation between God and man. For we cannot help but see that at the moment Christ’s body was broken, the veil was, too. Christ is the fulfilment of every sacrifice offered in the tabernacle and temple. As John the Baptist proclaimed, “behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world!” (John 1:29).
And this is why we reflect on this moment now, at the very start of our study of the life of Christ. For Christ came to bring reconciliation between God and man, that we may proclaim with the author of Hebrews and the saints throughout the centuries that, “since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful” (Heb. 10:19-23).