"And Jesus, having again cried with a loud voice, gave up the ghost.
And lo, the veil of the temple was rent in two from the top to the bottom, and the earth was shaken, and the rocks were rent..." Matthew 27:50-51*
The gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke each record the tearing of veil (also referred to as the curtain) occurred on the day of Jesus’ death. This may seem hardly noteworthy but consider: according to historical records, the veil was estimated to be 40 to 60 feet high, 30 feet wide, 3 or 4 inches thick, and horses tied on either end of the veil could not pull it apart. Seen together, the foregoing facts demonstrate that veil was of considerable height and attempting to tear the fabric from any point would require unimaginable strength.
So what exactly was the veil? The veil was used as a partition between the Holy of Holies, the dwelling place of God’s manifest presence, and the outer area known as the Holy Place. Once a year, the high priest was allowed to pass beyond the veil and enter into the Holy of Holies to atone for the sins of the people.
This Sunday (Palm Sunday), Christians move ever closer to one of the holiest celebrations of the faith – Easter. What has one man’s horrific death and a torn veil have to do with us today? Everything! When Christ died on the cross, the tearing of the veil symbolized the removal of the veil of sin that previously separated us from God. Jesus’ torn flesh was a physical representation of a spiritual truth: God’s love for us is so great that He sent His Son to die to atone for the sins of all mankind enabling us to come beyond the veil and enter the Holy of Holies – into His manifest presence.
Jesus is our High Priest; His death and resurrection tore the veil that existed between life and death – letting us know that death is temporary. He invites us to come and to join Him in the newness of life and the promise of a future summed up by an empty tomb on Easter morning.
Amen and amen.