noun: a window covering or room divider made of cloth or other material. A barrier or veil designed to block things from view or prevent access.
“But Jesus, again crying out loudly, breathed his last. At that moment, the Temple curtain was ripped in two, top to bottom. There was an earthquake, and rocks were split in pieces.” Matthew 27: 50-51
So much is going on in this chapter of Matthew.
A guilty suicide, a murder plot by religious leaders of the time, a wimpy governor giving in to a riotous crowd, a nervous wife trying to change his mind, the terrible abuse of power by government soldiers, the dramatic crucifixion of an innocent man and two criminals, three hours of darkness in the mid-afternoon, a violent earthquake, guards falling to their knees in fear and respect, and utter devastation and grief for all who were hoping, believing that this Jesus was the promised Messiah.
And in the middle of all of that, the curtain in the temple rips in two.
It might be easy to overlook the significance of the ripping of this curtain…until we think about what was behind it.
Imagine walking in to the temple (picture your church or a huge theater). At the far end of the sanctuary or auditorium is an enormously thick, woven curtain approximately 6 stories high and as wide as the room. Behind this enormous Temple curtain is the Most Holy Place. This is a place that you can never go into or even peek at. Only the high priest (the head pastor) is allowed to enter, and only to offer a sacrifice once a year on the Day of Atonement.
Everyone else has to stay on the outside.
Separated by this barrier, we could never approach the throne of God. No sacrifice any of us might bring could ever be enough. Nothing would be able to protect us from his consuming fire, his wrath against our sinfulness, his blinding holiness. None of us would possibly be allowed into His Holy presence.
Until Jesus died on the cross.
His death was the ultimate sacrifice. In the offering of his body and blood, he became our high priest once and for all. The power of this act of forgiveness tore that curtain weighing hundreds of pounds in two. It ushered us into his holy presence, covered and redeemed by his precious blood.
The whole chapter of Matthew 27 is incredibly significant. Everything that happened changed our lives and changed our death.
Especially the tearing of a curtain…
Let’s Invite Him In: Jesus, thank You for enduring the betrayal, the mocking, the pain and horror of dying on the cross for me. I humbly come into your presence and remember that Your sacrifice paid once and for all for all my sins. Please let me sit with You today and enjoy the privilege of being behind the curtain with You.