“And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit. At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook and the rocks split.” Matthew 27: 50-51
The veil was torn. The curtain in the temple that separated people from the Lord’s presence was ripped in half. Every barrier to God was obliterated the day that Jesus died on the cross.
I always thought the veil was this little flimsy thing – a translucent slip wafting in the wind. Kind of like the one hanging in my window, if I’m being honest. So the thought of it tearing was not remarkable. It could be chalked up to an accident. Ugh, the priest’s assistant messed up again. But the fact that it was a substantial curtain, almost like a wall according to many theologians, and it ripped from top to bottom. Whoa. This is the real deal.
I imagine the priest and everyone who witnessed this was confused. God had fulfilled everything he had been promising through the prophesies for centuries and they still looked around like “what just happened?” As I often am, they were still clueless.
Or maybe they got it and fell into despair because they realized that the Son of God was dead and they’d been a part of it. I don’t know. But what I do know is that it wasn’t the end of the story. It was just the beginning. He would rise again. There would be celebration and redemption.
Little did they know that that Friday was an invitation to a party. It was chapter 1 in a new story God was writing. But just like many books, chapter 1 is crucial for setting up the narrative. You can’t skip chapter 1 and the book still make sense. Just like you can’t show up at a party without RSVPing. Well you can, but it’s kinda rude.
“But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.” Isaiah 53:5
He was crushed for our iniquities. Crushed. All too often at Easter we overlook the death and focus on the resurrection. I know I do. Don’t get me wrong, the resurrection is the good part. It’s like chapter 12 – the climax of the story. It’s also much more lighthearted and uplifting to focus on when he rose rather than his excruciatingly painful death. But it wasn’t the physical pain that crushed him. No, it was the weight of the righteous judgement and wrath of God that he took on so you and I don’t have to. Talk about a heavy burden.
I want to spend some time reflecting on that today. The veil was torn, yes, but it came at a high price. Yesterday he was crushed so that today we can be free and tomorrow we can celebrate that freedom. I want to spend some time sitting in what had to take place in order for us to be able to celebrate tomorrow, on Easter Sunday.
The barrier to God was destroyed, but it cost something. And God paid it in full. Something important to consider before the party begins.