As we are nearing Easter, there is always one part of the crucifixion story that brings me to tears…every time. I am always in complete awe of God’s unfailing love for us when I reflect on this part of history. I just finished my bible reading for today (I’ll admit, I’m a little behind in our study of Luke), and I felt called to write about these verses.
Luke 23:45 – “And the curtain of the temple was torn in two.”
Matthew 27:51 – “And behold, the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom.”
Mark 15:38 – “And the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom.”
The curtain of the temple was torn in two. Reading about the entire life, death, and resurrection of Jesus is something that fills me with a lot of emotion, but these three verses touch my heart in such a deep way every time that I read them, hear about them, or sing them in a song.
“What’s the big deal? It’s just a ripped curtain, right?”
It’s a huge deal. The curtain was in place in the temple in order to separate the Most Holy Place from common people like you and me. Once a year, the high priest would enter through the curtain on the day of atonement to give sacrifices for the sins of all the people. Effectively, only the high priest was able to come into the presence of God and only once a year. When the curtain was torn, it signified that Jesus has given the final sin offering. We no longer need to go through a high priest once a year in order to atone for our sins. We can have a personal relationship with God any time of day through His Son, Jesus Christ. We now are now covered in freedom by the blood of Jesus’ sacrifice for us on the cross. The curtain of the temple was torn. We are now free to walk into the presence of God and have eternal life.
Matthew 27:50-51 – “And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice, and yielded up his spirit. And behold, the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. And the earth shook, and the rocks were split.”
The curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. In 1 Kings chapter 6, we can see a description of the temple. It is here that we can learn that this curtain must have been 30-45 feet tall. Much too tall for any person to reach up and touch the top. Yet, the curtain was torn from top to bottom. This was not an act done by one of the bystanders during the crucifixion. The curtain was torn by God…it was no accident. This supernatural occurrence was planned by the Almighty God so that we might enter into His presence to have a personal relationship with Him through the sacrifice of Jesus.
Hebrews 9:1-15 – “Now even the first covenant had regulations for worship and an earthly place of holiness. For a tent was prepared, the first section, in which were the lampstand and the table and the bread of the Presence. It is called the Holy Place. Behind the second curtain was a second section called the Most Holy Place, having the golden altar of incense and the ark of the covenant covered on all sides with gold, in which was a golden urn holding the manna, and Aaron’s staff that budded, and the tablets of the covenant. Above it were the cherubim of glory overshadowing the mercy seat. Of these things we cannot now speak in detail.
These preparations having thus been made, the priests go regularly into the first section, performing their ritual duties, but into the second only the high priest goes, and he but once a year, and not without taking blood, which he offers for himself and for the unintentional sins of the people. By this the Holy Spirit indicates that the way into the holy places is not yet opened as long as the first section is still standing (which is symbolic for the present age). According to this arrangement, gifts and sacrifices are offered that cannot perfect the conscience of the worshiper, but deal only with food and drink and various washings, regulations for the body imposed until the time of reformation.
But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things that have come, then through the greater and more perfect tent (not made with hands, that is, not of this creation) he entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption. For if the blood of goats and bulls, and the sprinkling of defiled persons with the ashes of a heifer, sanctify for the purification of the flesh, how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God.
Therefore he is the mediator of a new covenant, so that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance, since a death has occurred that redeems them from the transgressions committed under the first covenant.“
Hebrews 10:19-23 – “Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful.”