Read Matthew 27:45-56
How many spectators gathered the day that Jesus and the two thieves were crucified? It is difficult to know. Golgotha was intentionally situated near a public thoroughfare so those who passed by would find fair warning of the consequences of violating Roman rule. Some must have stopped and taken in the “entertainment.” Meanwhile, there were likely those who knew the ones being executed: friends and family members who gathered to mourn and express support as well as opponents who gathered to ridicule.
Still, those who passed by and those present at the crucifixion must have represented only a small segment of all who were in and around Jerusalem that day. But even to others who initially knew nothing of the crucifixion, God gave clear indications that this was a day unlike any other.
- Darkness fell at midday. Yet, this was unlike any solar eclipse in its duration.
- The earth shook and rocks split. Certainly, this was an unsettling experience anywhere and earthquakes were not common for Jerusalem in that day.
- Tombs opened, saints were raised and walked around. That was not an everyday experience!
To be sure, many in Jerusalem, who were initially ignorant of Jesus’ crucifixion, became aware of these occurrences. Did they, then, also find out that Christ’s death was simultaneous with these events? Did they put the pieces together and find the more complete picture reminding them that the wrath of God against sin was satisfied and hope was available to mankind?
There was yet one other odd happening that day. The curtain in the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. Although that may seem random and meaningless, it really isn’t. That curtain separated the holy of holies from the rest of the temple (Ex. 26:33). This was the area where God’s presence was manifested. It was a place into which only the high priest could enter . . . and only once a year to make sacrifice for sin (Heb. 9, 10). The torn curtain at the time of Christ’s death reminds us that the sacrifice of Christ is the once-for-all sacrifice that gives each of us free access into the presence of God!
God tore the curtain along the journey to empty tomb so that you and I can have access to God today!