Before I transferred through Perth Airport a few years ago, I’d been to Western Australia five times.
When I was little we visited our cousins in Broome. We crossed the Nullarbor to the big sign: ‘You are now entering Western Australia’. Then we walked to WA (one). We ran back and forth, having an interstate holiday every few minutes (two, three, four), and giggled at each other. Then we got back in the car and travelled for another week (five!).
Does two minutes standing at the sign count as a trip to WA? The sign said the right thing (I think Mum has a photo to prove we went there). The sign had the state colours and maybe the state flower, so it communicated something about WA. And the sign was in the right place with all the rest of the state beyond it – just not all in sight, not even close.
Hebrews tells us that the ritual of the Old Testament is a sign. The lampstand, the curtains, the bread, the altar, the incense, the glorious golden cherubim, the blood, the food laws and the washing all point to something real. The High Priest came into God’s presence once a year – except, more like my first four trips to WA, he came for a moment, to a place that only communicated something of God’s presence.
But Jesus, our high priest entered God’s presence truly, to stay forever. There is a way to God, a way to eternal life with God, serving him free from sin. It is reality, without ritual. Jesus made the way – Jesus is the way.