What's the Meaning of the Temple Veil Ripping?

J.C. Ryle

Of all the wonderful signs which accompanied our Lord's death, none was more significant than the rending of the veil in the temple. The midday darkness for three hours must have been a startling event. The earthquake, which broke apart the rocks, must have been a tremendous shock. But there was a meaning in the sudden rending of the veil from top to bottom, which must have pierced the heart of any intelligent Jew. The conscience of Caiaphas, the high priest, must have been hard indeed, if the tidings of that rent veil did not fill him with dismay.

The rending of the veil proclaimed the termination and passing away of the ceremonial law. It was a sign that the old dispensation of sacrifices and ordinances was no longer needed. Its work was done from the moment that Christ died. There was no more need of an earthly high priest, a mercy seat, a sprinkling of blood, an offering up of incense, and a day of atonement. The true High Priest had at length appeared. The true Lamb of God had been slain. The true mercy seat was at length revealed. The figures and shadows were no longer needed.

That rending of the veil proclaimed the opening of the way of salvation to all mankind. The way into the presence of God was unknown to the non-Jewish peoples - and only seen dimly by the Jew - until Christ died. But Christ having now offered up a perfect sacrifice and obtained eternal redemption, the darkness and mystery were to pass away. All were to be invited now to draw near to God with boldness and approach Him with confidence by faith in Jesus. A door was thrown open, and a way of life set before the whole world. May we all remember this! From the time that Jesus died, the way of peace was never meant to be shrouded in mystery. There was to be no reserve. The gospel was the revelation of a mystery that had been hidden from ages and generations. To clothe religion now with mystery is to mistake the grand characteristic of Christianity.

Adapted from The Gospel of Matthew by J.C. Ryle (Chapter 27).

Originally published July 15, 2010.

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