Show pictures of some separating walls and ask people which countries they come from. Could include:
Jerusalem, Great wall of China, Berlin wall, wall in , Mexican/Texan border, Korea etc. Northern Ireland
The greatest and most serious walls/divide ever was in
It was not between people and people, but between people and God.
It was not a wall, but a curtain.
It was the curtain in the temple, which separated the Holy of Holies (the place of God) from the people.
Bring out three adults to form a barrier. If appropriate ask if there are any children who would like to try and break through the barrier. Have a controlled mini rugby match!
This barrier completely separated human beings from God
It was put there by human beings: we reject God. We ignore God. We live without reference to God. And if we believe in God, we believe in a God who exists to help us. That is what sin is.
But it was also put there by God. It symbolises the anger of God against our rejection of him – who is ultimate goodness and love.
But the situation is not hopeless. Once a year the high priest was able to go through the curtain into the holy of holies to make sacrifice for the people, and to ask for God’s mercy on them.
Take child through barrier and then bring them back
This barrier represents sin, and the penalty for sin – which is death – and spiritual blindness. Because one of the consequences of us rejecting God is that we become blind to God.
Ask three adults in barrier to hold up 3 pieces of paper on which are written ‘sin’, ‘death’ and ‘spiritual blindness’
And I don’t know if you noticed, but in our reading, when Jesus died, the curtain in the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom.
What happened was that, as Jesus died:
- he deals with our sin
He took onto himself the judgement on our sin and the punishment for our sin.
There was darkness (
Matthew 27:45) – parallel the darkness in the last but one judgement on (( Egypt Exodus 10:21-23)
There was Jesus cry of abandonment (
And now, as King Jesus dies – as the king gives his life as a sacrifice for his people – the curtain is torn in two, from top to bottom.
Tear up word ‘sin’, and ask the first adult to sit down
- the power of God is released
There is an earthquake and the tombs break open and the dead are raised (
Matthew 27:51-53). It is a strange incident, but it is telling us that because of Jesus death, death itself has been defeated.
Yes, we all have to die, but death now is not our final destiny.
Tear up word ‘death’, and ask the second adult to sit down
- people recognise that Jesus is the Son of God
Matthew 27:54 the Centurion and his fellow soldiers realise that Jesus is the Son of God.
Up to now there has been a curtain. They have been blind.
They thought – I don’t know what they thought. They thought that Jesus may have been a dangerous radical, a lunatic, a good man but a man who was way out of his depth, or as someone who was being turned into a political scapegoat.
But now as he dies, as the curtain tears, they suddenly realise: this man was the Son of God
Tear up the words ‘spiritual blindness’ and ask the final adult to sit down
And now there is no barrier.
The way to God is open because of Jesus death on the cross.
Or perhaps we can look at this a different way. God himself has come out to meet us.
I could finish this by saying: look at the cross and decide. Decide, with the centurion if the one who hung on the cross is the King who loved me and died so that I can be forgiven, know God and have life. Is he the Son of God?
But I’m not sure that the passage is saying that.
I think that it is saying to us that the reason that we can join with the centurion and look at Jesus on the cross and say, ‘This is the Son of God’- is because he did die for us. The reason we can have life is because he did die for us.
And we therefore respond with praise to Father God who, in his love, gave us his Son; and to the Son of God who loved his Father, and who loved us, and gave his life for us. To Him be glory and honour and the kingdom now and for ever. Amen.