Question:

Just after Jesus died on the cross in Matthew 27:51 it says "And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent;..." What is the significance of the temple being torn in two from the top to the bottom?


Answer:

The curtain was the divider in the temple between the holy and the most holy place (Exodus 26:31-33; Hebrews 9:2-8).

It is alluded to in Hebrews as signifying the division between God and mankind. "Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He consecrated for us, through the veil, that is, His flesh, and having a High Priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water" (Hebrews 10:19-22). Thus Jesus' death removed the barrier between God and mankind. "But Christ came as High Priest of the good things to come, with the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands, that is, not of this creation. Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption" (Hebrews 9:11-12).

It is interesting that the time of the rending coincides with the time the evening prayers were being offered up in the temple. Thus priests would have been offering incense on the altar in front of the veil just as it was torn.