It was now about the sixth hour, and darkness came over all the land until the ninth hour. The sun was darkened and the veil of the temple was torn down the middle. Then Jesus called out in a loud voice, “Father, into Your hands I commit My Spirit.” And when He had said this, He breathed His last.
Luke 23: 45 ff
Several things happened at the moment of death, when Jesus gave up his spirit: the Lamb of God was slain and his blood shed for the sins of the world; the veil of separation between man and the most holy of holies was torn open forever; the chasm that separated man from God was bridged forever; and a new and better covenant was cut by God the Father, with God the Son, for us, the pinnacle of His creation.
Today we're going to examine the multi-layered significance of the tearing of the curtain in the temple. During the lifetime of Jesus, the holy temple in Jerusalem was the center of Jewish religious life. The temple was the place where animal sacrifices were carried out and worship according to the Law of Moses was followed faithfully. Our readings for today tell us that in the temple a veil, or curtain, separated the Holy of Holies—the earthly dwelling place of God’s presence—from the rest of the temple where men dwelt. This signified that man was separated from God by sin. Only the high priest was permitted behind this veil, which he did only once a year and with extreme caution. He entered God's presence in order to make atonement for the sins of the people.
This veil or curtain was about 4 inches thick and was woven from blue, purple and scarlet material. Given that the curtain was so thick, it makes it even more remarkable that it tore at the time of Jesus' death. This was not the only sign - an unnatural and long-lasting darkness descended, along with an earthquake. Historians have recorded that this unnatural darkness was so severe and lasted so long that the stars could even be seen at midday.
What are we to make of this? Is there a deeper significance to the veil being torn? Indeed there is.
1. Jesus' sacrifice accepted
It dramatically signified that Jesus atonement for our sins had been accepted because the way to the Holy of Holies was opened.
2. God could come out
The separation between God and man was so that sinful man would not be destroyed by a holy God - but now God could come out and once again, live with His people.
3. The old system was gone
The old way of being made right with God, the sacrificial system, which had been but a shadow and type of the true, was over. The way to God now, is through Christ.
Christ is our superior High Priest, and as believers in His finished work, we partake of His better priesthood. We can now enter the Holy of Holies through Him. Jesus’ flesh was torn for us just as He was tearing the veil for us.
Previously the veil in the temple had been a constant reminder that sin renders humanity unfit for the presence of God. The fact that the sin offering was offered annually and countless other sacrifices repeated daily showed graphically that sin could not truly be atoned for or erased by mere animal sacrifices. Jesus Christ, through His death, removed the barriers between God and man, once for all.
Jesus death opened the door to an Eternity with God.
Lord, I still have so much to think about and learn about and meditate upon when it comes to your death on the cross. Thank you that I have an opportunity to do so every year at Easter time.
For the family
Continue this 15-day devotional study about Easter that is suitable for children.