Therefore, my friends, since we have confidence to enter the sanctuary by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain (that is, through his flesh), and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us approach with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Hebrews 10:19-22
Do you remember the movie ‘the Wizard of Oz?’ Do you remember the encounters that Dorothy and company had with the actual wizard? If not, here is the quick refresher.
After a long arduous journey, Dorothy and company finally find themselves in the presence of the Wizard of Oz. Interestingly, he was a big giant green head who had a loud voice and was engulfed in smoke like a rock band in the 80’s putting on a concert. Dorothy and co approached the giant green head with a request for help. In return for that help, the giant green head demanded the broomstick of the Wicked Witch of the West.
The thing is, with the smoke and the loud voice the big green bald head was very distant. It did not let anyone come close, only to talk to it from a distance.
So they bring back the broom of the witch who had just melted. A conversation with the giant head ensues, and good ol’ Toto runs over to a curtain nearby and opens it up. To the surprize of Dorothy and co, it is a man hiding behind the curtain controlling everything. The giant head was a complete fake. No wonder this ‘god’ like entity was so distant.
“pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.”
When Jesus died, the gospels tell us that there was an earthquake and that ‘the sun stopped shining. And the temple curtain was torn in two.’
In the temple, the Holy of Holies was a place that nobody other than the High Priest could enter. It housed the ark of the covenant, and the mercy seat which on day of Atonement the High Priest would enter the Holy of Holies to pour lambs blood on it. It was such a Holy place that only one very distinguished person could enter. The curtain separated the Holy of Holies, the place nobody could enter, from the rest of the temple. Thus it was a very distant place for the rest of 1st century Palestine.
God who was distant, due in large part to the cultivated legalism of 1st century Judaism, was now near. That which separated a humanity from it’s God was no longer present due to the saving life of Jesus. It no longer took a High Priest to come to God on behalf of the rest of humanity. Jesus, the new High Priest took on that role as saviour of humanity. Jesus reconnected us to God in the most intimate of ways. God wasn’t revealed to be some balding old man pulling levers, rather God was exposed to be very accessible.
The original audience of the book of Hebrews were people facing persecution. For them the message in Hebrews 10:19ff is clear. God was near. May we be reminded that God is not some distant fraudulent giant green head. But rather, God is near in the ups and downs and mundane that life gives us.