The curtain of the temple was torn in two. . . . The earth shook . . . and the tombs broke open. . . . People who had died were raised to life . . . and went into the holy city.
When Jesus gave up his spirit—when he died—it set off a chain reaction, from the tearing of the temple curtain to people rising from their tombs and entering the holy city.
The beginning and end of this chain of events are significant. The temple curtain, which separated God’s holiness from the world, tore open. And people who were dead—which, according to the law, meant they were unclean—entered the holy city. Matthew is showing that Jesus’ death changed the relationship of the holy God to the world. Previously God and the world were kept apart—at least symbolically. But now things would be different.
At the moment Jesus died on the cross, our sins were paid for. That’s earth-shaking, rock-shattering news. We’re not guilty anymore. He took our guilt upon himself.
Since we are no longer guilty, God doesn’t have to protect us from his holiness. Do you ever think some things are too good for you? Well, thanks to Jesus, even God is no longer too good for you—that’s what the torn curtain means for us.
Many of the neighbors around my former church told me they felt they were too sinful—too unclean, you might say—to visit our church. Nope. “Unclean” bodies from the tomb went into the holy city. Jesus’ death provides all the cleansing that anyone will ever need.
Dear Jesus, thank you for forgiving all my sins. Thank you for dying so that I could be in your presence and with your people. Amen.
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