In terms of salvation history, the coming of the Messiah ought to have been the brightest time of day for the Jewish nation. But as God gave them over to their own will and they raised Jesus upon the cross, a supernatural darkness descended upon the land to mark the going down of their sun at noon. Now, after three hours upon the cross, Jesus expired. Having accomplished everything according to the will of His Father, He yielded up His Spirit into His hands and breathed His last. In doing so He let go a loud cry that was unlike any other the Roman Centurion who was right in front of Him had ever experienced. Much more than just hearing its sound he felt its power that fifty days later would come with a sound like a violent rushing wind (Act 2:2). That power, like the secret forces bound up in tiny atoms, could split rocks and shake the earth like a nuclear explosion, and yet in such a controlled way as to tear the veil of the temple in two, raise the dead, and inspire belief in those to whom the gospel light was now dawning without destroying them; see Mat 27:51-54. Such is the nature of God’s Spirit, full of power and might, and yet still a gentle blowing so as to root out the tares without uprooting the wheat. For not even one lost sheep from a hundred will He forsake, in order that every grain of His threshing floor might be safely gathered into His barn and not burned up with the tares and the chaff in the furnace of unquenchable fire; cf. 1Ki 19:10-13, Zec 4:6, Luk 9:54-56.
Consider that while the sun had set upon the Jewish nation for rejecting the light of their Messiah, it was just dawning upon the Gentiles, represented by the Roman centurion and those keeping guard over Jesus, and would soon rise with healing in its wings; see Mal 4:1-2; cf. Mat 21:43, Mar 11:13-14,20, Luk 13:6-9. Now, almost two millennia later, should we imagine that if God did not spare the Jewish nation that He delivered from Egypt and covenanted to Himself when it brought forth no righteous fruit, that He will spare the Church for whom He died to save them from their sins and betrothed to Himself, but has similarly failed to bear the fruit of righteousness, and even prostituted herself with the world? Cf. Isa 5:1-7, Rom 11:20-21, Jam 4:4, Rev 17:1,5, 18:2,4.
What remarkable event do all three synoptic gospels note was clearly associated with Jesus’ death? See Mat 27:51, Mar 15:38, Luk 23:45. As Golgotha was outside the city gate (Heb 13:12,) where Scripture records a number of His followers were found when He died (Mat 27:55, Luk 23:49), how would they have come to know that the veil of the temple was torn in two? Recall that it was the Passover, the busiest time of the Jewish year for both priests and people, so that throngs of people would have been in the temple for the sacrifice of the Passover Lambs. Many would have witnessed it, and because of the hidden mystery concealed by the veil that every Jew would have wondered about from their youth, it would immediately have become a topic of curiosity and inquiry. It would also have to be repaired or replaced, so it would be impossible to deny. What description does Matthew give for how the veil of the temple was torn to illustrate its miraculous nature? See Mat 27:51, “Behold…” a wonder, and note that early Jewish tradition says that the temple veil was about four inches thick, though this is perhaps an exaggeration. Nevertheless, according to Josephus, Herod’s temple was about 60 feet high, so it is clear that whatever the dimensions of the veil, it would have been quite large and virtually impossible for it to be torn in two from top to bottom by any ordinary means, especially considering the sacrilege of such an act by anyone but God Himself.
What connection had Jesus made numerous times during His ministry between His life in the flesh and the temple? See Joh 2:18-21, Mat 26:61, 27:40; cf. Joh 1:14, 14:2,23, Rev 21:3. As magnificent and big as Herod’s temple was, what part of it was the most important that signified its essence, and that was separated from the rest of the temple by the veil? What was the essence of the temple that made it holy, and what did its innermost sanctum, the Holy of Holies, represent? See Exo 30:6, 40:34-35, Lev 16:1-2, Deut 14:23,26, 2Ch 7:1-2. As the temple and especially its inner sanctuary separated by the veil represented the very presence of God—which presence was manifested in the flesh of Jesus Christ whose earthly life was bound up with the temple (Luk 2:49, Joh 2:16-17)—should we be surprised that His death was marked by something commensurately cataclysmic in the temple itself? For the Jewish nation, what was the calamitous significance that the veil of the temple was torn asunder? Think: What did the tearing of the veil that once concealed the hidden glory of their God now reveal to the whole world about that glory? Was it still there? See 1Sa 4:21-22, Jer 7:1-14, Eze 10:18-19, Mat 23:38.
The Atonement of Christ's Blood: Understanding How the Blood of Christ Saves and Reconciles us to God
- What is the relationship between Jesus’ sacrifice and our redemption, forgiveness and receiving an inheritance per the terms of the covenant / will that was effected by His death?
- From what, and to what, are we saved? Is it Jesus’ death alone that saves us? What part does His resurrection have in our salvation?
- Does the justice of God demand the satisfaction of blood before He will forgive, similar to what pagans throughout history have believed?
- What was the purpose of the Old Testament sacrifices?
- Does blood alone atone for sin?
- How does Christ’s death render powerless the devil?
- To whom was Christ’s life given as a ransom? From what are we ransomed?
- Why did Jesus not only die, but suffer and die? If all that was necessary was His shed blood, why didn’t God sovereignly ordain a more merciful death for His own dear Son?
- What is the relationship between a will or testament, and a covenant? What was willed to Jesus as an inheritance from His Father, and what was willed to us through the new testament in His blood?