What a celebration the people made! The legendary temple was built in splendor; the ark of the covenant was brought into the holy place by the priests; the sacrifices and prayers were rewarded with the presence of God dwelling in a dark cloud; and the people went home filled with joy. Yet even Solomon who built that temple said, “But will God indeed dwell on the earth? Behold heaven and the heaven of heavens cannot contain You,” (I Kings 8:27).
How the people beat their breasts! Jesus Christ, the King of the Jews, had died a despicable death; the veil in the temple was supernaturally torn in two; the heavens were silent, the skies darkened; and Christ’s followers stood at a distance, watching but too afraid to come forward, (Luke 23:44-48).
How could Solomon know how prophetic were his words, for not only was this temple destroyed, the physical body of Jesus Christ was about to be destroyed; this One that the “heaven and the heaven of heavens” could not hold.
I’ve never doubted that this earth could not hold back Jesus Christ from rising from the dead. After all, Christ was with God at the beginning of creation when this earth was formed. But I had not given much thought to the fact that the heaven and the heaven of heavens could not contain Jesus Christ, either.
The Father could no more “let this cup pass” from Christ than Jesus, Himself, could return empty handed to the Father. For Jesus Christ had left heaven for one purpose – to draw all men to Himself. Mankind needed salvation; Jesus submitted to the beatings, the scourging, the nailing, and the mocking. He answered with forgiveness, a promise of paradise to a thief, and a total commitment to complete the sacrifice well. The heavens could not stop Him from coming or from dying, and the earth could not stop Him from rising from the dead.
The amazing truth here is that this was God’s plan all along. He left His heavenly home fully intending to save you and me; fully intending to dwell with you and me, not forever in some temple. Neither heaven nor earth could hold Him back. How can we refuse Him when we know the redemption story? What should be our response knowing that we are the object of so great a love? Dancing in the streets? Singing? Kneeling in prayer and worship? Telling all our family and friends? Breaking bread together with strangers and followers of Christ? However you do it – Celebrate!