It’s Friday of Jesus’ final week. It’s called Good Friday. Good in the sense that God sent His only Son to pay the price for our sin debt. God planned and orchestrated the greatest act of love in human history.
Jesus is being crucified at Golgotha, The Place of the Skull. Jesus was nailed to the cross at approximately nine in the morning. It’s now three o’clock in the afternoon, it has been dark since noon, to fulfill the scripture in Amos 8:9 I will cause the sun to go down at noon, and I will darken the earth in the clear day; and in Jeremiah 15:9, Her sun is gone down while it is yet day. The darkness to signify that the Sun of righteousness was leaving this world and the Jewish nation would be in darkness; a sign from heaven that their eyes would be blinded. At three o’clock in the afternoon, Jesus cries out in a loud voice, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” Matthew 27:46b. The darkness further signifying the dark cloud of Jesus’ soul as he himself was the offering for sin, the sacrificial lamb. It also signified the withdrawing of the light of God’s countenance as Jesus took on the sins of the world.
After Jesus cried out and breathed his last breath, the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The splitting of the curtain signifies the destruction of the nation and church of Israel and the entering in of the new and living way into the Holy of Holies by the blood of Christ. No longer will the High Priest, from the Levitical priesthood, come into the Holy of Holies once a year to offer sacrifices for the sins of the people with blood that is not his own but with the blood of animals. Christ is now our High Priest, in the order of Melchizedek, who’s own blood was shed as the only eternal, acceptable sacrifice and sprinkled on the Holy of Holies in heaven and therefore he is able to continually intercede for those who love Him and have been called according to His purpose.
In the temple area in Jerusalem, the Court of the Gentiles is several acres on the outer most part of the temple area. This is the designated area for gentiles from all nations to come worship and pray. Just a few days before, Jesus had come into the temple area in Jerusalem and overturned the tables of the money changers. These passages of scripture are given the most prominence in regard to the anger of Jesus in regards to the greed and dishonesty of the money changers and people selling animals for sacrifice that filled the Court of the Gentiles. Furthermore, any gentile who wanted to come into the Court of the Gentiles to pray had a difficult time doing so because they were crowded out by all the vendors selling animals and the money changers that were making exorbitant fees. Jesus comes into the Court of the Gentiles and literally “turns the tables.” The Jewish leadership had allowed the sanctity of God’s temple to be robbed. Allowing the merchants and money changers into the temple area showed the Jewish leadership’s lack of dedication to God and the true purpose of the temple. Further, it also showed Israel’s lack of respect for people of every nation to come worship and pray. What Jesus did by literally turning the tables in the Court of the Gentiles, displays what was getting ready to happen in a few short days when He hung on the cross. Similarly, in the book of Esther, God “turned the tables” for the Jewish people displaying the greatest turnaround on the grandest of scales. Christ did, likewise, turn the tables for all peoples from every tribe and nation for all time.
Sometimes Jesus would speak of future realities in the present tense. One example is when Jesus spoke of the signs of the end of the age. In Matthew 24:34 “I tell you the truth, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened.” Surely, the disciples must have marveled at what Jesus was saying and wondered when this event would happen in their life time.
As finite beings that think sequentially due to our restriction to time and space, we have a past, present and future. God is eternal, transcendent and above time and space. God is the eternal present tense. He is the eternal present tense in our past, present and future. So, when Jesus tells the disciples of these events, He is speaking of our future reality in His eternal present tense.
In the present, Jesus shows his anger toward the money changers crowding in the Court of the Gentiles and preventing the gentiles from worship and prayer. In the future, Jesus displays through this act that the former way of temple worship will be no more. But, an even greater act is that from now on the Gentiles are no longer restricted to the outer court. Christ’s death has secured our future and He has turned the tables for all time. The promise of that future reality was signed and sealed when Jesus breathed his last breath on the cross and the curtain was torn in two from top to bottom. The gentiles from the outer court of the temple area are now able to run right into the temple, past the The Holy Place and into the The Most Holy Place to the alter of God.
So, don’t stand around and dawdle in the Court of the Gentiles, run…don’t walk…run through the temple to the Holy of Holies to the alter of God. Jesus has secured our future. He was forsaken by the Father so that we wouldn’t be forsaken. Yes, this is Good Friday and it is the darkest day in history. But, Good Friday is in anticipation of Easter Sunday, the brightest day in human history.
If you’ve been half-hearted or lukewarm to the things of God…today is the day to turn it all around. Jesus has already turned the tables for you. All you have to do is turn to Him.