If you’re as old as I am, you can remember a time when Berlin was divided into East and West by a concrete wall. A few weeks ago, I read that not long after the wall went up, psychiatrists in East Berlin began to see a marked increase in depression, rage, and even addictions. They determined that the only cure for this “Wall Disease” was to bring the wall down. In 1989, jubilant crowds, some with sledgehammers in hand, broke down the wall amid wild celebrations that they were no longer cut off, no longer denied access.
If you’ve ever seen pictures or video from that event, it’s hard not to be touched by the people experiencing not only the rush of political freedom, but emotional freedom as well. I think one reason it connects so deeply with us is that we as believers can relate on an eternal scale.
A very long time ago, in a Garden, a wall of sorts went up. It wasn’t made of concrete, but it was far more formidable. Genesis 3:24 says because of man’s sin, he was driven from the Garden, and God placed an angel with a flaming sword at the entrance to Eden, denying man access to God’s presence. The whole human race has suffered since then.
Hundreds of years later, that separation was reiterated when God gave Moses the design for the tabernacle with its Holy of Holies. There was no wall exactly, but ordinary people had no access to God, and the High Priest was afforded such a privilege only under extremely limited circumstances. The Temple followed that model as well, and for hundreds of years, man was cut off from God’s presence. Separated.
But God would not allow that separation to be the last word.
In Matthew 27:51 is one of my favorite parts of the crucifixion story. “Then, behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom…”
With Christ’s death, the wall that cut us off from God, from his glory, from His presence came down. Christ restored our access and He set us free. Eternally, spiritually free.