God’s plan is moving along, and Jesus’ life as a man has now ended. The sins of the world were atoned for in this moment. Did any of the details Matthew recalls surprise you? There were a couple for me. I hadn’t recalled the dead being raised and leaving the cemetery. And, I was surprised Matthew didn’t mention Jesus’ mother directly as being present at the cross. She had to have been there, right?
Let’s look a little at the torn veil or curtain in the sanctuary of the temple. This is significant, and we might just miss the beautiful imagery of this moment. Up to this day, the temple had been a hub of gathering for the faithful Jews, where animals were sacrificed, and where worship took place. The laws Moses introduced from God had prescribed how this facility would be used.
Hebrews 9:1-9 describes this in a little more detail. The curtain separated God’s dwelling on earth from where the people spent time. This signifies that people were separated from God by their sin. Only priests could enter the Holy of Holies, and only on certain days. The purpose of that was to atone for the sins of the people.
Jewish tradition would tell us that this curtain was about 4 inches thick and 60 feet tall. That increases the significance of it tearing in two at the moment of Jesus’ death. No longer are men separated from God by their sin. Jesus’ sacrifice for us brought that to an end as well. It is finished. Our admittance into the Holy of Holies has been granted by the spilling of Jesus’ blood. Jesus is our way.
The other events of that fateful day are recorded for us. The earthquake had caused tombs of others to be exposed, and we read that when Jesus’ own resurrection took place, these others also found their way into the city and were seen by many. They would be the “first fruits” of Jesus’ resurrection. Jesus’ body was placed in a tomb of one of his followers, Joseph. It was sealed with a large rock as witnessed by Mary and Mary.
Most of the people probably believed Jesus’ life was finished. It was only just beginning.
Let’s pray. Lord, your power was seen in a mighty way that day. Unbelievers believed. Jesus’ own followers mourned. I am amazed at your great love for me. I know that your sacrifice has redeemed me, yet I feel want to be the best I can be to please you. I know I’ll make mistakes. Forgive me. In Jesus’ name. Amen.