As part of our series digging deeper into the Bible, we’re finishing Matthew with a phrase that’s been heard by many- “the veil was torn.”
“And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave 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)
Jeremy Camp sings about it in his song “This Man,” we’ve seen it near the end of The Passion of the Christ, but do we really know what it means? What is the significance of the veil, or in some translations, the curtain, being torn?
First, we have to remember that the veil was located in the holy temple of Jerusalem, the centerpiece of Jewish religion at the time. The veil was around 60 feet high, 30 feet wide, and between three and four inches (yes, 3-4 inches) thick. It separated men from what was called “The Holy of Holies,” where the Ark of the Covenant resided. This area was considered to be the earthly dwelling of God’s presence. It served as a symbol, or reminder, of God’s separation from man by sin.
The only person that could enter this area was the High Priest, and he could only enter once a year to ask for the forgiveness of sins. When Jesus died, the sudden and supernatural tearing of the veil meant that the barrier between man and God had been removed. The tearing of the veil meant that the atonement for sins had been purchased with the blood of Christ. The veil tearing in two symbolized that Christ was the only way to the Father.
So the next time you hear or sing that line, remember, it means that the blood of Christ has removed the barrier between God and man.