What is the significance of tearing the temple veil at the death of Jesus?

Posted on

The gospels record the incident of the tearing of the temple veil at the death of Jesus on the cross: “And Jesus cried out with a loud voice, and breathed His last. Then the veil of the temple in Jerusalem was torn in two from top to bottom” (Mark 15:37, 38; Matt. 27:50, 51; Luke 23:44-45)

This veil separated the Holy of Holies or Most Holy Place from the Holy Place in the Temple (Ex. 26:31–33; 2 Chron. 3:14). No priest was ever allowed in the Most Holy place except the high priest on the Day of Atonement. Once a year the high priest entered into the Holy of Holies, carrying sacrificial blood which he sprinkled on the mercy seat, and made intercession for the people of Israel (Leviticus 16:14). The thick veil separated depraved humanity from the holiness of God.

The Talmud informs us that this heavy veil was sixty feet long and thirty feet wide. Its thickness was four inches. It was composed of 72 squares of knit of thick material. This meant that no man was able to tear it down. And the fact that it was torn from top to bottom proves that it was a divine act of God.

The Bible tells us that it was torn at the exact moment when Jesus died on the cross signifying that the temple services were abolished (Ephesians 2:15). The ceremonial law of sacrifices which pointed to Christ’s death came to an end when Christ fulfilled its types. But the moral precepts of God’s law (Exodus 20:3-17), which are a transcript of the character of God, are as eternal as God Himself and can never be abrogated (Matthew 5:17,18).

Jesus died at the time of the evening sacrifice in the Temple. At that time, the priests were in the Holy Place, in front of the veil, performing their priestly services. The Lord intended that the priests will see firsthand the act of God as eye witnesses. As a consequence, after beholding this supernatural act “a great many of the priests were … obedient to the faith” (Acts 6:7b).

The Lord wanted to show His children that now access to God was available through His Son Jesus Christ. “Therefore, brethren, since we have confidence to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He inaugurated for us through the veil, that is, His flesh” (Hebrews 10:19-20).

Jesus our High Priest atoned for man’s sin by His own precious blood.  Paul writes to the believers saying, now you have “access in one Spirit to the Father. So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow-citizens with the saints, and are of God’s household” (Ephesians 2:18-19).

Then, Jesus became the mediator between man and God in the heavenly temple: “Christ, our high priest, has entered the true Holy of Holies in heaven, offering once for all the all-sufficient atoning sacrifice of His own blood (Heb. 9:11-28); and now in His name we may look without dread upon the very throne of God, and come with boldness to the throne of grace (Heb. 4:16; 10:19).

In His service,
BibleAsk Team


A closing message from BibleAsk:

Thank you for visiting BibleAsk – an online ministry dedicated to providing Bible based answers to your questions.

  • If you enjoyed and agree with this answer, please like and share! If you don’t agree, please leave a comment below, and we’ll be sure to respond!
  • If you have another question you would like to ask, please click here and someone from our team will personally answer it (don’t worry, your email address will never be shared).
  • Check out our Bible Answers page to see just Bible verses answering thousands of questions.
  • If you feel impressed to support this ministry, kindly visit our donate page to send a tax-deductible love gift to BibleAsk. Any donation size helps ?