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Torn in Two
Rev Rob Anning, Superintendent Minister, writes:
Mark 15 verses 37 and 38: Then Jesus gave a loud cry and breathed his last. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom.
The Temple in Jerusalem at the time of Jesus’ death, was the third temple to stand on the Temple Mount. The Temple for the Jews was the centre of their religious life.
Solomon had built the first temple, which was destroyed by the Babylonians some four hundred years later in 587BC. The people returning from Babylon some 50 years later, set about rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem and the Temple, but this second temple was never built to the same standards as Solomon’s. Finally, the Temple of Jesus’ time had been rebuilt under Herod and was grander and on a more magnificent scale. This Temple was destroyed by the Romans, when Titus was Emperor, in AD70.
At the core of Herod’s Temple was the Holy of Holies. Here was a sacred place where only the High Priest could venture, and then only on one day a year, the Day of Atonement. The Holy of Holies was separated from the rest of the Temple by a veil or curtain, behind which it was believed that the Spirit of God lived. According to Matthew, Mark and Luke, at the moment of Jesus’ death, this curtain was torn in two. This may have happened literally, for Matthew adds that the earth shook and rocks were split at the same time, but it doesn’t take much imagination to understand the spiritual significance of the event.
Many of us experience the feeling of being “torn in two”. How often are we invited to two events on the same day and time, and we feel our loyalties divided? Or are pulled in two directions when asked to support two people at the same time, and we love them equally? How often are we confronted with the choice between good and evil and again experience this “torn in two” feeling? And how often does this lead us to making mistakes?
As we look at the Passion of Christ, we see someone who was “torn in two”. In the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus asks in prayer, that if at all possible, to be relieved of the cup of suffering. It wasn’t that he didn’t want to do the will of God but as a human being he was “torn in two”. And the experience of crucifixion was to invade the very being of Jesus, he was broken by us, he was “torn in two”.
But the symbol of the Temple curtain being “torn in two” sums up the paradox of the Easter story. Here lies our hope. By being “torn in two” Jesus offers to us the possibility of a new and whole relationship with God. All those moments in our lives when we have been “torn in two” and made mistakes, committed sins, are swept away. The message of Easter is that we and God are made whole in our relationship with him. Not in any way by our own actions, but by Jesus’ willingness to be “torn in two”.
Marlborough Road -
Every Thursday 10.00 am Coffee Morning and 11.00 Circuit Communion
Every Friday 10.30 -
1st Saturday of the month 10.00 -
List of books in the Circuit Library, kept in the Marlborough Road vestry.