Have you ever seen those strong men who can tear a phone book in two? It’s pretty cool at face value, but there’s really not much to it when you learn the trick. Don’t get me wrong, you still have to be incredibly strong to tear all those pages, but you don’t necessarily need Herculean strength. It would be cooler if you saw a person tear an iPad in half… now we’re talking!
In our reading today we are confronted with many images that require our attention. Whether its Jesus standing in front of Pilate or Herod, or Simon of Cyrene carrying the cross behind Jesus, we are forced to not simply gloss over these scenes and really think about the power of each moment. One of these powerful moments comes at verse 44 in Luke 23:
Luke 23:44-46 (NLT) 44 By this time it was about noon, and darkness fell across the whole land until three o’clock. 45 The light from the sun was gone. And suddenly, the curtain in the sanctuary of the Temple was torn down the middle. 46 Then Jesus shouted, “Father, I entrust my spirit into your hands!” And with those words he breathed his last.
All of creation since the beginning of time has awaited this moment. I can’t imagine the very moment when the covenant was fulfilled and the Son of Man died for the sins of the world, but imagine with me the sight and sound of the veil being torn in two in the temple.
We have to remember that at the very moment Jesus breathes his last, a huge crowd of people were packed into the temple for the final sacrifice. So it’s not like the temple would have been empty and everyone’s attention was on Jesus. For many people, Jesus was just another criminal dying a criminals death at the hand of Roman Solider.
So imagine; you’re standing in the temple courtyard, getting ready to watch the final sacrifice, and suddenly people come running out of the temple yelling the veil has been torn! The only cover of safety separating God from man has been torn in half. A curtain that literally was about 4″ thick and took 300 priests to maneuver had ripped from top to bottom!
As much as I would love to go into all the detail about the veils, yes there was more than one, I want to talk more specifically about what the tearing represents. However, If you’re a Bible nerd like me and you’re interested in reading more information about the veils, click here.
Enter With Confidence
If we really want to find the significance of the torn veil, we need to turn our attention to the book of Hebrews. The writer of Hebrews paints an incredible portrait connecting what Jesus accomplished on the cross, and the torn veil in the temple. The writer literally skips all the conjecture about the veil and says, “by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh… (Heb. 10:20, ESV)”As Christ’s body was torn on the cross, so the veil that separated God from man ripped in half. It’s through Christ, His torn flesh, that we are able to connect with God.
Hebrews 10:21-22 (NLT) 21And since we have a great High Priest who rules over God’s house, 22 let us go right into the presence of God with sincere hearts fully trusting him. For our guilty consciences have been sprinkled with Christ’s blood to make us clean, and our bodies have been washed with pure water.
Jesus opened the pathway for direct communication with God. Where we once needed a High Priest, Jesus became our High Priest forever! Another significant point found in this moment is what Jesus was communicating about the difference between the old and new covenant.
Hebrews 8:13 (NLT) 13 When God speaks of a “new” covenant, it means he has made the first one obsolete. It is now out of date and will soon disappear.
Jesus’ death on the cross removed all barriers between God and man. All barriers! This was symbolically seen in the tearing of the curtain in the Temple. Because of this, “let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most (Hebrews 4:16, NLT).
Right now, this very moment, Jesus, your High Priest, is advocating on your behalf, so lets approach the throne of grace with confidence and meet with him there.