Rev Moss

When my children were quite young, I remember finding them in a patch of mud in the back yard. I don’t know if it was a conscious decision or not, but it looked like they were in a competition to see who could get the muddiest. It was lots of fun, but after that wore off, they wanted to come back inside. There was no way they were putting a foot inside the door before they had washed off all that mud.

This analogy is one way the Bible speaks about our sin. Our sin exiles us from God. God, who is completely holy, cannot live with people who have been stained with sin just as my muddy children could not come inside and sit on the lounge. Starting with Adam and Eve, the Bible gives us example after example of people or nations being exiled because of sin. In fact, you could say that the main story arc of the whole Bible is God working through Israel to bring all humanity out of exile to be at home again with their creator God.

That is why historically it’s Easter – and not Christmas – that is most meaningful for Christians. It is at Easter that God deals with the sin that exiles us from God, once and for all. This return from exile is illustrated by Mark when he describes the moment that Jesus dies on the cross, in chapter 15:

37 With a loud cry, Jesus breathed his last. 38 The curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. 39 And when the centurion, who stood there in front of Jesus, saw how he died, he said, ‘Surely this man was the Son of God!’

The very first consequence of Jesus’ death that Mark mentions is the temple curtain ripping in two. Mark understands its significance beyond simply having an eye for furnishings. The temple curtain separated the most holy place in the temple, where God dwelt in a special way, from the people of Israel. The curtain was a physical reminder that our sin exiled us from God. But when Jesus died, the curtain was ripped completely open. On that day, Jesus died in our place on the cross. He took the full weight of the penalty of our sin. On that day, Jesus dealt with and defeated the thing that separates us from God. The curtain no longer had any use.

There was now nothing that could separate us from God.

I wonder if these ideas resonate with you. Perhaps there’s a nagging sense of guilt that lingers; a feeling that no matter how hard you try, you can’t live the kind of life you want. We regularly flare up with feelings of anger, jealously and frustration, and find ourselves irritated by even the smallest things. Our relationships are not as good as we wish they were. We sense that we are not as we should be, that there is something broken. The Bible tells us that like muddied children who can’t get back inside the house, we are cut off from our living creator God, exiled from him. We can’t fill the hole that this leaves inside us, no matter how much wealth, success and comfort we can create for ourselves. None of these things have the power to bring us home.

On the other hand, perhaps these ideas don’t resonate at all. The idea of being unable to be in relationship with God because of our innate brokenness seems like a concept from a fairytale. Even if we can’t see the problem in ourselves, most of us would recognise that the world is simply not the way it should be.

Either way, the Easter story demonstrates to us that God is thoroughly committed to a restoration of the world. A commitment to reverse the devastating and saddening exiling effects of sin. If you feel that brokenness, if you see it in the world around you, Jesus calls us to place our confidence in his work to bring you and the world back from exile and bring us home.