6th April 2014

Peanuts and Grace 

“Let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it.”
Hebrews 4:16 (NIV UK)

Anyone flying on a domestic airline recently, knows that our cash-strapped airlines rarely serve meals. These days all you get is a small bag of peanuts. These can be really hard to open. You can’t tear them and, since you aren’t allowed to carry knives on board, you can’t cut them either. 

Sometimes these bags have a little nick in the edge which allows you to get a start. But until you find that nick, it’s as if those peanuts are locked away in FortKnox…or, for a biblical reference, as if they’re behind the curtain separating the Holy of Holies from the rest of the JerusalemTemple in Jesus’ day. 

The Temple was designed to remind people that their sins had cut them off from God. The Holy of Holies was a forbidden inner sanctum representing the throne of God. The Holy of Holies was veiled from public view by a thick curtain that stretched from floor to ceiling. 

Once a year the High Priest only was allowed to enter, in order to perform a set of prescribed rituals. If the High Priest, or anyone else, went in at any other time, they were struck dead. It sounds harsh, but God was making a point in those Old Covenant days—sinners were personae non grata in the presence of the Holy One. 

But the Gospels tell us that at the moment Jesus died, the veil in the Temple was miraculously torn apart. The Holy of Holies then lay exposed with the Mercy Seat in full view. Horrified priests rushed to repair the veil, but the point had been made—Jesus Christ, the Son of God and great High Priest of our salvation, had sacrificed himself for humanity and thereby cleared the way for all to have access to the Mercy Seat of God. 

We know that, but somehow we have a lot of trouble believing it. Still we think we must try to be good enough, or must do something to earn God’s grace. It’s as if Jesus, through his death and resurrection, only put a nick in the edge of the curtain, to get us started, but still we have to go to the effort of pulling it apart. So we go through all sorts of spiritual calisthenics, hoping to build up the strength to rip open the curtain the rest of the way. 

But we can’t. There is nothing we have to do. When Jesus gave himself for us, everything that needed to be done—everything that could possibly be done—was done. The curtain that separated the Mercy Seat from the people was not just nicked, it was ripped violently apart from top to bottom. 

The priests of Jesus’ day, blind to the meaning behind what had happened, sealed off the Holy of Holies again. But they couldn’t close off the permanent access given to the real throne of God. 

Holy Father, realising that you have done all that’s necessary for our redemption, our salvation, through Jesus Christ, is difficult. As the man said, “I believe; help me in my unbelief.” And we do, praying always in Jesus’ holy name.

Study by Joseph Tkach


joeandtammyAbout the Author:
Joseph Tkach is the President of Grace Communion International (the Denominational name of The Worldwide Church of God UK), and resides in California, USA.

You are welcome to attend one of our local Church congregations located throughout the UK.  For details of your nearest local congregation, check on our website, www.wcg.org.uk under the ‘Churches’ tab, or ring +44 (0)1858 437099.

Email:  admin@daybyday.org.uk

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