Lately there has been lots of talks about walls, about barriers. Presidential Candidate Donald Trump has proposed building a wall between the United States and Mexico to keep illegal immigrants from coming to the United States. For centuries, people have built barriers to keep people out, from the Great Wall of China to walls around cities like Jerusalem or Italian City states, and even the Berlin Wall. These walls, these barriers, are meant to separate people from one another, to keep them apart.
Why all the talk about barriers? Well, in our reading from Hebrews, the writer is describing the barriers that existed between God, who resided in the holy of holies, and the people. In the ancient tent of the tabernacle and later the temple, God was walled off from the people. The reason? The majesty of God was too much for the sinfulness of humanity. It was to protect the people, which is why only the high priest could go into the Holy of Holies and only after offering sacrifice.
But what the writer of Hebrews is getting at is that the barrier between God and humanity has been destroyed. Jesus, the great high priest, has come not with the blood of goats or lambs but with his own blood. By sacrificing himself for the sins of humanity, the Son of God has destroyed the barrier between God and all people. Now, we can approach God with boldness because we have been cleansed and redeemed by Jesus Christ. Our sin had closed the door between us and God, but through the saving work of Christ, that door, that wall, that barrier has been destroyed.
I was in middle school when the Berlin wall started to fall and I remember the joy that I watched on TV as people gained their freedom and a barrier was brought down. We have joy because our great barrier, sin, has been destroyed by the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. WE are free from the bondage of sin and death and so we can live freely, boldly, lovingly, and for our neighbors.
Some believe Barriers will always exist between humans, whether man made with concrete and steel or through thoughts and actions. But, by the grace of God, there is no barrier between us and the love of God in Christ Jesus. Maybe, being freed from all things, we might work to tear down the barriers that separate us and together give thanks for the love we have in Christ Jesus our Lord. For that we can say, “Thanks be to God!” Amen