While Jesus was dying on the cross, an unusual thing happened in the Temple of Jerusalem: the veil which separated the Holy place from the Most Holy place was torn from top to bottom. This event is recorded in the Gospel of Matthew (27:51). What is the connection between these two events?
The Veil of the Temple
Animal sacrifices were offered in the Tabernacle. These sacrifices symbolized that of Jesus Christ on the cross. Thus, when the animal was sacrificed, the high priest collected the blood and entered the Tabernacle. The latter was divided into three parts: the court, the holy place and the most holy place. The square was accessible to everyone, even non-Jews. The holy place, however, was only accessible to Levite priests. The third part, the most holy place, was accessible only to the high priest. It is because the torn veil separated the holy place from the most holy place that it has such great significance for believers. When we think of a veil, we immediately see a vaporous and light fabric, but this one was made of a very opaque material, and above all, very resistant.
Separated from the presence of God
This veil served to hide the place where the Jews believed that God resided, that is, the most holy place. Let us understand the meaning of all this. The presence of God manifested itself in a place to which access was strictly forbidden. Only the high priest could enter it once a year to offer the blood of an animal as a means of expiation for the sins of the people. It was the place of forgiveness. I insist again on the fact that this place was inaccessible to the people. In other words, in the Old Testament Covenant, the common people did not have direct access to God; they had to go through an intermediary, the high priest priest.
Jesus on the cross
Now back to Jesus on the cross. It is said that it was when he was dying that this famous veil was torn from top to bottom. What does that really mean? Wouldn’t this be the sign that God opens the access of his presence to all? The connection between the crucifixion of Jesus and the tearing of the veil shows us that Jesus was the last and true sacrifice that takes away the sin of the world. The presence of God is no longer reserved for a spiritual elite, all now have access to it through Jesus Christ.
“Now where there is forgiveness of sins, there is no longer a sin offering. So then, brethren, since we have, by means of the blood of Jesus, free entrance into the sanctuary by the new and living which he inaugurated for us through the veil, that is to say, of his flesh, and since we have a high priest established over the house of God, let us approach with a sincere heart, in the fullness of faith, hearts cleansed from a bad conscience, and bodies washed clean with pure water. Let us hold fast to the profession of our hope, for he who made the promise is faithful.”
This passage shows us that Jesus is our only intermediary with God. Moreover, since he offered himself as a sacrifice for sins, he is the one to whom we must go directly to receive forgiveness, mercy and compassion.