A Tale of Two Curtains: An Easter Visual
April 6, 2012
Curtains have been on my mind this week. I accidentally shredded a yellow striped shower curtain on Saturday. Racing to the store after church on Sunday, I chose and bought a new shower curtain, installing it just before a real estate home showing that afternoon.
In church that day, the pastor touched on a passage in Hebrews that has always grabbed my attention. While he went a different route with his sermon, my thoughts were riveted by words penciled into my Bible margins. There are three Greek words that mean “new”…
In Hebrews 10, the author speaks of curtains.
For Resurrection Sunday, my mind ponders two curtains.
The first curtain is the heavy cloth curtain that used to hang in the Jewish temple in Jerusalem around 30 AD. Thick, heavy and many feet long, the curtain separated the Creator’s holiest presence from humans. The Holy of Holies room was entered only once a year, and only by a priest after he had undergone elaborate ceremonial cleaning rites. Coming before God’s holy presence was such a sacred responsibility that unrepentant sin could easily trigger death for the man. For such a worst case scenario, the priest tied a rope to his body. If he were struck down, other temple workers could safely pull his body out of the Holy of Holies room.
During Jesus’ death on the cross, a miracle happened. Untouched by human hands, the heavy temple curtain was torn top to bottom, tearing aside the last separation between God and man.
In Hebrews 10, the author spoke of another curtain. Choosing from three possible Greek words for “new,” he painted a vivid image.
Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, 20 by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain…
Would the author use neos which means new but similar?
Would he use kainos which means new but different?
No, the author of Hebrews used prosphatos which meant freshly-slain new.
A freshly-slain new curtain has been opened to us, ushering us into God’s presence.
This Easter weekend, I stand humbled before my Jesus, thankful, tearful, joyful.
19Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, 20 by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, 21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22 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. 23 Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. (Hebrews 10:19-23)