And behold, the veil of the temple was rent in two from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake; and the rocks were rent; and the tombs were opened; and many bodies of the saints that had fallen asleep were raised; and coming forth out of the tombs after his resurrection they entered into the holy city and appeared unto many.
Now the centurion, and they that were with him watching Jesus, when they saw the earthquake, and the things that were done, feared exceedingly, saying, Truly this was the Son of God.Matthew 27:51-54 ASV
The Ripping of the Curtain of the Temple
The miracle in this instance, other than its timing which is a feature of all these wonders, was that a veil untouched by human hands should have fallen into two equal pieces, in a progressive rending from top to bottom, the force which parted it coming, not from beneath as if violent hands had been laid upon it, but from above as though some unseen hand had passed down the center of it.
This event occurred at three o’clock in the afternoon, at a time when the priests would have been busy with the evening sacrifice, going about their tasks with lighted lamps, with a very large number of them present; and it is from this group of eyewitnesses to that remarkable wonder that we may suppose is the explanation of why such a large “company of the priests believed” (Acts 6:7), being later converted to Christ.
The rending of the veil, occurring simultaneously with the death of Christ, must be associated with that death; and, looking more closely, it is plain that the veil, in practically all of its functions and even in its colors, was a most instructive type of Christ.
How strong a proof of the gospel narratives is the statement of the rending of the veil.
The evangelists were bold to publish their accounts in the midst of the Jews, and under the very eyes of the priests.
Were they ever contradicted?
How it would have been caught at and used by those acute and watchful infidels, Celsus, Porphyry, and Julian! But no!
The enemies of Jesus were silenced.
They could not say that never before had they heard of it. The simple statement of the evangelists proves itself. It is the true story of the veil’s destruction.
The meaning of the veil and its tearing is extensive:
(2) The ancient worshiper (in the person of the high priest) went through the veil to the Holy of Holies; the present-day worship has access through Christ into heaven (Hebrews 10:19).
(3) It symbolizes his death on Calvary.
As the veil was rent, Christ’s body was torn for the sins of the whole world.
(4) The tearing also means the removal of obstructions between the worshiper and his God. No longer is there a veil.
Christ’s followers have boldness, freedom, and “access” (Ephesians 2:18; 3:12).
(5) The torn veil means that the Old Testament can now be understood in the light of the New.
Out of Christ, the Old Testament is a mystery; in him it is gloriously understood (2 Corinthians 3:14-16).
Christ is thus the true “key to the Scriptures.” Accept no other.
(6) The rending meant that Christ has conquered death, the fear of it now, the fact of it ultimately (Isaiah 25:7,8).
This figure also makes the veil a symbol of death, which of course it is: The “place” it occupied makes that certain.
Squarely between the sanctuary and the Holy of Holies, it corresponds to death which lies between the church and heaven; and all who enter heaven shall pass through the veil of death, or be “changed” which is equivalent to it.
Christ rent the veil of death in two ways,
(a) by passing through it unharmed, and
(b) by destroying it for his children.
Where is death’s sting? Where, grave, thy victory? Where all the pain? Now that thy King the veil that hung o’er thee Hath rent in twain?
Light of the World, we hear thee bid us come To light and love in thine eternal home!
(7) The torn veil abolished the office of the earthly high priest.
The line of demarcation between lesser priests and the high priest was removed by God’s hand.
The office of the high priest on earth was no longer needed, nor is it now!
He is the ONLY mediator (1 Timothy 2:5,6). There can be no use, then, for daily sacrifice, whether of the mass or of anything else.
The true sacrifice has already been offered once and for all in heaven. Christ offered himself ONCE (the Greek term [HAPAX] means “once” without repetition) (Hebrews 9:23-28; 7:27).
All Christians are “priests” (1 Peter 2:9; Revelation 5:10).
Since the only true high priest is in heaven, and all God’s children are now priests, every human being who moves into a position between one of the Lord’s children (priests) and tries to be something of a higher priest to grant absolution or perform other mediatorial functions is merely trying to patch up that old veil.
But God has torn it down!
The veil has been torn in two.
Do not let it come back. Take it away forever. Let it come no more between the face of the redeemed and that of the Redeemer!
The access assured to the sons of God is not subject to human permission and does not derive from human authority, but is from God.
Men are no longer children, hiding in the folds of an old veil.