The tearing of the temple veil
By Rev Victor Neill
‘Jesus, when He had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost. And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; (Matthew 27 v 50&51)
As we approach Good Friday, and our thoughts turn to the cross, I want to focus briefly on the significance of the rent/torn veil (curtain) in the Temple that occurred at the very moment the Lord Jesus died. The curtain/veil in the Temple was very elaborate and partitioned the Temple into two parts - ‘the Holy Place’ and ‘the Most Holy Place or the Holiest of all’ (also referred to as ‘the second veil’). ‘And the second veil, the tabernacle which is called the holiest of all’ (Hebrews 9 v 3). This clearly demonstrated that man because of his sin could not freely enter into the presence of a Holy God. Only once a year could the High Priest enter ‘the most holy place – the holiest of all’ on ‘The Day of Atonement‘. ‘But into the second went the High Priest alone, once every year and not without blood, which he offered for himself and for the errors of the people. The Holy Ghost this signifying, that the way into the holiest of all was not yet made manifest (not yet open to us), while as the first tabernacle was yet standing’ (Hebrews 9 v 7 & 8).
The fact that at the very moment of Christ’s death, the curtain in the Temple was torn from top to bottom and not from bottom to top, is of the greatest significance. This in the most graphic of ways declared ‘heaven’s answer’ to the sacrifice made by Christ - i.e. ‘that He had fully dealt with mankind’s sin and removed all the barriers which separated sinful man from a holy and righteous God!’. And the glorious truth still is, that now, because of Christ’s atoning sacrifice, no barrier remains to prevent any individual entering into a personal relationship with God, through trusting in the Lord Jesus. ‘Having therefore, brethren boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way, which He had consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say His flesh’ (Hebrews 10 v19 &20).
We therefore rejoice that the greatest good was done for mankind, on what humanely speaking was the darkest of days and that is why it is called ‘Good Friday!’
‘My Lord, my Love is crucified. Is crucified for me and you, to bring us rebels back to God: believe, believe the record true, ye now are bought with Jesus’ blood, pardon for sins flows from His side: my Lord, my Love is crucified. Then let us sit beneath His cross, and gladly catch the healing stream, all things for Him account but loss, and give up all our hearts to Him;’ (Charles Wesley)