Early on Saturday morning only the guys were awake in the Knick household. Zach, my nine-year-old, was watching cartoons and told me how bored he was. It turned into a manly morning as we took an impromptu trip to McDonald’s. Maybe it will be one of those surprises he’ll remember into adulthood. I know I will.
It took awhile for him to choose what to eat. We don’t do the Mickey D’s thing a lot, and I can’t remember the last time we had breakfast there. He finally decided on a breakfast burrito and, after his first bite, vowed to consume only that delicacy as the first meal of the day until the length of his days on this earth would expire. By the time he started the second burrito he’d already changed his mind. I have his fickle taste buds to thank for what happened next, since he was no longer fixated on fast food delicacies.
Out of nowhere he asked a question that I wasn’t expecting (no, it’s not the one you’re thinking), and it thrilled me to death. “Where is the Holy of Holies?”
I thanked him for his brilliant question. After a quick gloat for having brought such an inquisitive little chap into the world, I went into depth about the Temple in Jerusalem and how the Holy of Holies was the most intimate place for God among his people. It’s where the Ark of the Covenant was. Only the High Priest was allowed in, and only once a year on the Day of Atonement.
When it had become clear that my detailed excursion was a bit above Zach’s head, I mentioned that if anyone else were to enter that sacred place they would die. That got his attention. He was particularly interested in the practice of wrapping a cord around the High Priest’s leg in case he passed out ’cause nobody wanted to go in there after him.
I asked Zach why he thought God would do that. He said that it’s because God is so much better than us. Smart boy. I added that every person is a sinner and that means that they couldn’t be with God because God can’t be around sin. God wanted to be nearer to us but our sin made it impossible. Zach then told me that Jesus died on the cross to take away our sin. Then the little guy provided a great segue to the next part of the answer to his question, “Do we still have the Holy of Holies?”
“Yes,” I said. “But, it’s no longer in Jerusalem in the heart of the Temple. Now, it’s in a different heart . . . yours.”
Big grin followed by a quizzical expression. I told him that before Jesus died and rose again the Holy Spirit didn’t live in the hearts of people. Now, for those whom Jesus has purified from sin, the Holy Spirit can live there. In fact, the Bible says he chooses to live in the heart of every believer. “Since you’ve asked Jesus to save you from your sins,” I said, ” . . . God lives in you. You are the Holy of Holies.”
I think he started to realize the great privilege, and the awesome responsibility, of having God live in him. Do you?
Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you? (1st Corinthians 3:16, NRSV)