At that moment [when Jesus died] the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook, the rocks split and the tombs broke open. The bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life. They came out of the tombs after Jesus’ resurrection and went into the holy city and appeared to many people.
When the centurion and those with him who were guarding Jesus saw the earthquake and all that had happened, they were terrified, and exclaimed, “Surely he was the Son of God!”
Many women were there, watching from a distance. They had followed Jesus from Galilee to care for his needs. Among them were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Joseph, and the mother of Zebedee’s sons.
When Jesus died, the temple curtain was torn in two from top to bottom. This has tremendous significance for us, but we need to know the purpose of the veil to appreciate it.
During their journey in the wilderness, God instructed Moses to build a portable sanctuary to serve as a dwelling place for his presence. This was known as a tabernacle. The tabernacle was surrounded by a courtyard, which had an altar for burnt offerings and a basin for ceremonial washing.
The tabernacle itself was divided into two main sections. The first section, known as the Holy Place, contained the golden lampstand, the table of showbread, and the altar of incense. The second section called the Holy of Holies or the Most Holy Place, was separated by a veil and contained the Ark of the Covenant, which symbolized God's presence.
This veil served as a physical barrier separating God's presence from the rest of the temple. It was a thick and heavy curtain made of fine linen adorned with intricate designs and colors. Only the high priest was permitted to enter the Holy of Holies, and that too only once a year on the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur). He had to undergo stringent purification rituals and sacrifices before entering the sacred space.
By the time of Jesus' crucifixion, the tabernacle had been replaced by the permanent temple in Jerusalem, but it retained the structure of the tabernacle, including the veil. The tearing of the veil symbolizes the removal of the separation between God and humanity, granting us direct access to God through the sacrificial death of Jesus. It signifies the end of the old sacrificial system and the inauguration of a new way of approaching God.
As believers, we can approach God with confidence and experience his presence intimately. Let us take advantage of this privilege and honor to the fullest!
May the Spirit be with you.