Some 2,000 years ago, the most important death in all of history was being played out. Our Lord and Savior was being led up a hill. He had been flogged, mocked, tortured and spat on. He struggled to make it up the hill.
Once to the top, he was brutally nailed to two pieces of wood joined together to make a cross. This involved breaking his limbs, impaling his hands and feet, and forcing a crown of large, sharp thorns into his scalp. A sign was posted above his head that mocked him with the phrase
Οὗτός ἐστιν Ἰησοῦς ὁ βασιλεῦς τῶν Ἰουδαίων.
Or “This is Jesus, the King of the Jews.” This wasn’t meant as a commendation or title. It was another way to mock him.
As the cross was hoisted into a standing position, Jesus found himself supported by his hands- which were still nailed into the cross. Every time he wished to breathe, he would have to pull himself up by his hands- otherwise his body weight was crushing his lungs. He hung this way until he died.
At the moment that he released his spirit, a lot of odd events took place. Dead people rose and began to walk around and talk to people. An earthquake shook the area. And the veil was torn.
In this time, the temples were laid out very methodically. There were three main parts: the courtyard, the holy place, and the most holy place.
Anyone could go into the courtyard. The priests could go into the holy place. But only the high priest could go into the most holy place- which was separated by a veil or curtain- and this is where he met with God.
That’s how it was in those days. The only one that could meet with God was the high priest. The connection between God and the common man was through this fallible human. It goes without saying that God desired (and still does) a deeper, more personal relationship with everyone. So He sent His Son. To suffer and die so we could have that relationship.
And the veil was torn. The temple veil that had for so long separated man from God was torn in two at the moment of Jesus’ death. That gap was forever bridged by the death of the Greatest Man who ever lived. Who died because of His love for the common man. His death tore the veil and bridged the gap. But that isn’t the end.
In the moment, the grief was overwhelming. Everyone had been hoping this man was different. Someone that even the Romans couldn’t control. Someone to save them from tyranny. But he was killed just like everyone else. Maybe he wasn’t anything special. Just a man with some smooth words.
But like I said- the story isn’t over. Three days later, our Lord and Savior- the Messiah- the man that had suffered the most painful death the Romans could throw at him- rose from the dead. Three days after the veil was torn, Jesus came back to life. He walked among the living and told them of the amazing power of the last three days. He looked forward to the future- to the new relationship that had been forged between God and man by his death. The new life that isn’t reliant on another fallible human. A new life that is based on the perfection and love of that man. Our Savior.
And the veil was torn.