The Veil Torn
One of the powerful moments of the crucifixion was the tearing of the veil in the temple.
And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice, and yielded up His spirit. Then, behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; and the earth quaked, and the rocks were split, and the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised; and coming out of the graves after His resurrection, they went into the holy city and appeared to many.
The veil in the temple separated common people from the presence of God. The temple was divided into several courts and each court was a progression to the Holy of Holies. Only the high priest could enter there and only once a year after a process of sanctification which included washing, clean garments and a personal sacrifice. He was to carry the blood of the sacrificial lamb and pour it over the mercy seat which rested on the Ark of the Covenant between the seraphim. This offering was the covering for the people’s sins. For centuries, beginning with the tabernacle in the wilderness, this had happened annually.
This time was no different. On the Day of Atonement the high priest had prepared himself and the sacrifice and had made the offering.
It’s difficult for us to grasp the significance of this tearing, for we have never experienced the temple or the sacrificial rituals. Let me try to in a small way help us see what Calvary did.
In the Garden. God had walked and talked with mankind, but sin separated man from God. There in the Garden, the first sacrifice was offered by God Himself. Hebrews tells us that “without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness”. It requires a life for a life. Throughout the Old Testament sacrifices were made for the sin-covering.
When Moses and the Israelites were in the wilderness, God declared His desire to be in their midst, but their sinful hearts rejected Him. There in the wilderness, the veil was made separating man from God. There are several common stories about the size and thickness of the veil. Some say it was about 4” thick (hands breath) and 30’ high, so strong and heavy it required 300 priest to carry it. The only facts we know are these. It was high enough that it blocked any view of the Holy of Holies. It’s was torn top to bottom. It was strong enough and the way it was hung, the earthquake could not have torn it.
What’s important is the significance of the tearing. When Christ died for our sins, He opened the way for us to enter now into the very presence of God. We no longer have to go to a certain place or go through an elaborate ritual of human cleansing. Through the blood of Jesus, we now “have boldness to come into the holy place” God through Christ opened access to Himself.
The tearing of the veil broke the wall between God and man, but on that day there was another tearing, the tearing of the flesh. We read that the soldier thrust a spear into Jesus’ side and blood and water ran out. By the way this is a medical fact that when a human is under extreme stress their blood separates and plasma and red corpuscles running from Jesus’ body would appear to be red and clear liquid. While the blood being spilled is significant, we must see also the the spear opened access into the heart of Jesus. Jesus spoke of us being grafted into the vine. Every farmer knows that in order to graft a new branch the tree has to be opened. We beloved have been grafted into Christ through the opening of His flesh.
So during this Holy Week, let us rejoice that access has been made into the very presence of God. Let us no longer stand outside the veil, but let us enter and behold the Savior and our Lord. Let us rejoice that now we and Christ are one in answer to the Lord’s Prayer in John 17 for through His flesh being torn we have been granted access into His heart.