There’s one event that happened during the Easter story that is still lingering with me, and I hope to remember it every day this year. It’s a little verse that I think is so monumental, life-changing, and important, that I ask that you stop and ponder it with me as well.
“The curtain of the temple was torn in two” is mentioned in three of the gospels. Three! (Matthew 27:51, Mark 15:38, and Luke 23:45, ESV)
While Jesus was hanging on the cross, dying for our sins, crazy things were happening. There was darkness, even though it was in the middle of the day. There was an earthquake. And the tombs broke open, and the bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life. All of these events are described in Matthew 27.
And then the Bible says, “The curtain of the temple was torn in two.”
What is this curtain? What does this mean? Why do we care about a curtain when the Son of God was dying, and astonishing acts of God were taking place?
This event was actually very significant! The veil of the Jewish temple was the symbol of how unapproachable God was to man. No man dared to enter the Holy of Holies beyond that veil, except the high priest. The high priest was only allowed to enter past the curtain one day a year, and that was after many sacrifices and ceremonial washings.
And when he entered the Holy of Holies, past this curtain, he entered with such fear of the holiness of God, that he went in with bells tied on the bottom of his clothing and rope tied around his foot. What? Why would he go in with bells and a rope? So that those outside of the veil would listen for these bells to be tinkling inside. And if they would stop, they would have to pull the priest out by his foot, knowing that he went into the presence of God with some blemish and God had stuck him dead. And so the purpose of the rope was so that they could pull him out and wouldn’t even have to go in to get him.
Why was God so unapproachable by man? This was because man’s sin had separated him from God. Beginning with the first sin in the Garden of Eden, sin had separated people and the veil represented that separation of the unrighteous man from God.
But at the death of Christ, the way was made by which man might come to God, and God ripped that veil from the top to the bottom, saying, “Welcome! Come, it’s open.” The way is now made through Jesus Christ for you, for me, to be able to come directly to God. Jesus had already stated, “I am the way, truth, and the life, and that no one can come to the Father except through Me.” (John 14:6, ESV)
So, what does this tearing of the temple mean for you and me? What does it mean today and every day, not just during the Easter holiday season?
Two things stand out to me about this event.
First of all, the curtain was torn from top to bottom, showing us that it was an act of God, not of man. The curtain was sixty feet high! This represents the fact that salvation is initiated by God through the death of His son. There is nothing that we can do to earn this salvation. Ephesians 2:8-9 say, “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” (NKJV) We can never earn our salvation, and salvation is initiated by Jesus dying on the cross and by the work of the Holy Spirit.
Secondly, we now have free access to the throne of grace by the cross.
Hebrews 4:16 says, “Let us, therefore, come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” (NKJV)
Friend! Today, let’s take advantage of this amazing privilege and this opportunity. Let’s boldly talk to the Lord all day long, giving Him our praise and our concerns. I want to remember how hard it was for the Jewish people to even gain access to God’s presence when we have accessibility all day long everyday. Wow!
How can we practically take advantage of this accessibility? What helps you remember? I like to set reminders on my phone and in my planner to pray throughout the day. Keeping a prayer notebook with current praises and requests helps organize my prayer life as well.
Just ask the Lord how to keep coming boldly to talk with Him each day, and He’ll show you a way that works for you. He’s faithful like that!
Annie Boyd is a co-founder and contributor at The Gingham Apron, an online place of encouragement and inspiration. She is the co-author of The Gathering Table: Growing Strong Relationships through Food, Faith, and Hospitality. Annie lives in southern California with her family, enjoying both the mountains and beaches.