With Easter quickly approaching us, Easter eggs and Easter bunnies have flooded the displays at the local grocery and craft stores. And how about the ridiculous assortment of candy from jelly beans….to chocolate eggs and bunnies…to marshmallow peeps? …Leaving my 2 little boys salivating and quite impatient for their Easter Egg Hunt at their school! And my ever-increasing quest of decreasing their sugar in-take is challenged once again!
With Good Friday and Easter coming up this weekend, many will be flooding into churches to reflect and celebrate the death, burial, and resurrection of their Lord and Savior Jesus Christ as this Easter holiday is the very reason we as Christians can receive forgiveness of our sins and eternal life.
While listening to the radio this week, I heard a beautiful song that was sung at my wedding called “At the Cross” by Hillsong. And I noticed that many songs by very talented and gifted musical artists as Hillsong, Mercy Me, David Crowder Band and Chris Tomlin have written and produced songs reflecting the very pain and suffering…the shedding of blood…that Jesus endured and experienced for us. And many of these songs have also included the line “the veil was torn” in their lyrics.
These words actually come from the Bible scripture in Matthew 27:50-51.
And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice, and yielded up His spirit. And behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; and the earth shook and the rocks were split. Matthew 27:50-51 NASB
I believe an understanding of these scriptures can help us further appreciate what Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection represents for us today.
The mere fact that the scriptures record the occurrence of this veil being torn at the very moment that Jesus breathed His last breath of life…releasing His spirit… certainly demonstrates something quite significant.! And most likely why it has been included in so many Christian artists’ lyrics too! Don’t you think?
What does “the veil was torn” really mean and why is it so important for us to understand its significance? And is there significance in the fact that the veil was torn in two from top to bottom?
Before we can grasp what the veil being torn symbolizes…we need to explore the purpose and background of this temple veil.
During Jesus’ lifetime, the Holy Temple in Jerusalem was the center of Jewish religious life. The temple was the place where animal sacrifices were carried out and worship was followed faithfully…according to the Law of Moses.
In the temple, a veil…sometimes called a temple curtain…separated the Holy of Holies (the earthly dwelling place of God’s presence) from the rest of the temple where men dwelt. (Hebrews 9:19) The veil was a symbol of the separation of God from sinful mankind and therefore marked the boundary between God’s holiness and the wickedness of mankind. It was not possible to go beyond the veil because our sins have separated us from a Holy God.
But your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God. And your sins have hidden His face from you so that He does not hear. Isaiah 59:2 NASB
Because man was separated from God by sin…only the high priest was permitted to pass beyond this veil once each year to enter into God’s presence for all of Israel and make atonement for their sins.
But only the high priest ever entered the Most Holy Place [Holy of Holies], and only once a year. And he always offered blood for his own sins and for the sins the people had committed in ignorance. Hebrews 9:7 NLT
Atonement means “satisfaction or reparation for a wrong or injury; amends.”
At the very moment that Jesus breathed His last breath, the temple veil was torn. So what is the significance of the veil being torn?
The veil being torn symbolized that mankind’s separation from God had been removed by Jesus’ sacrificial death on the cross. The tearing of the veil at the moment of Jesus’ death dramatically symbolized that His sacrifice…the shedding of His own blood…was sufficient atonement for man’s sins…forever!
Furthermore, the fact that the veil was torn from top to bottom was also significant. Why?
Well, first of all, this temple veil or curtain was not a simple curtain you would hang above your window in your home. This temple veil was 60ft long and 30ft wide and was one inch thick! It was so massive that it took 300 priests to manipulate it!
Therefore, no one could simply tear the veil themselves! It would take more than human strength to tear it.
The analogy is that it took the mighty hand of God Himself to tear it supernaturally. And this tearing which represents the removal of the separation of God and man could not be done by humans. It had to be done by God alone…and that’s why it is so significant!
No one can remove our separation from God but God Himself!
He himself is the sacrifice that atones for our sins–and not only our sins but the sins of all the world. 1 John 2:2 NLT
All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation. 2 Corinthians 5:8 NIV
The fact the veil was torn in two from top to bottom…which stood some 60ft from the floor where humans clearly could not reach it…shows that God was the One that caused the veil to be torn. He was the initiator of the veil being torn.
The significance of the veil being torn from top to bottom and just the fact that it was torn is that Jesus’ sacrifice makes it possible for us to come to God our Father. Our sins no longer separate us from Him.
On Good Friday at approximately 3pm, Jesus took His last drink…spoke His last words…and breathed his last breath. He gave up His spirit that day and the veil was torn.
When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit. John 19:30 NIV
Jesus Christ through His death…removed the barriers between God and man…and now we may approach Him with confidence and boldness!
Jesus Christ through His resurrection…destroyed the power of death…and now we as Christians may receive forgiveness of our sins and everlasting life!
Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death-that is, the devil-and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death. Hebrews 2:14-15 NIV
As we reflect and celebrate this Easter weekend, my prayer and hope is for us to not only gain a greater perspective as Christians in understanding the significance of the “veil [being] torn” but also that many others who don’t even have a relationship with Jesus will come to him and accept Him as their Lord and Savior!
Let’s all come together in prayer that God will begin moving on the hearts of those who don’t know Jesus today in our communities…in our country…in our world!
Happy Easter! Thank you so much everyone for your continued support of Sweeter Than Honey Blog!