The tabernacle and the ark were associated with God’s presence, and an encounter with him was often deadly. The tabernacle was the movable link with God that carried on the Sinai encounter, wherein he told the Israelites not to come too near his presence, lest they too be struck down by his dangerous perfection. Yet Scripture paints a very different picture of Jesus.
Because of the advent of Jesus, a significant shift took place in the idea of sacred space and communication with God. The importance of the former sacred places faded, and the focus moved to the person of Jesus himself. As we will see, Jesus became the connection point between God and mankind.
Jesus made his debut in the chaotic environment mentioned above with a message that challenged all to think about communication with God in a radically different way. While this idea is present in all four Gospels, John is the New Testament book that contains most of the language that focuses on Jesus’s relationship with sacred space. Indeed, the very first chapter of John’s Gospel conscientiously forces the reader to see how Jesus relates to God’s communication with man in the Old Testament.
In John 1, the Gospel links Jesus to the creation. In more ways than one, however, this link is only the beginning. The rest of John 1 is a deliberate effort to connect Jesus with the communication and fellowship between God and his people throughout the Old Testament. After the introduction of John the Baptist, in verses 9–14, we read:
There was the true Light which, coming into the world, enlightens every man. He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. He came to His own, and those who were His own did not receive Him. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.
The prologue to John’s Gospel is a review of the history of salvation that started with creation, systematically highlighting key covenantal events and linking these events with the person of Jesus.