Summary: Significant truths we can learn and apply to our lives from the tearing of the temple veil at the moment of Jesus’ death.
*INTRO>In 1966, Alfred Hitchcock directed a Cold War era mystery / thriller movie starring Paul Newman and Julie Andrews, a movie entitled, “The Torn Curtain.” The movie was not one of Hitchcock’s better-known films, as few people paid much attention to it.
God understands when much expense has been involved, much time and effort and sacrifice is devoted to a project, only to have it not be given the attention it deserves.
In today’s Scripture text, in the span of only a few verses, we read of several miracles that took place surrounding Jesus’ crucifixion, but many of those go practically unnoticed:
--Total darkness at mid-day until 3:00 p.m.
--An earthquake the moment of Jesus’ death.
--The conversion of the centurion and some of his colleagues.
--The bodies of believers coming back to life and walking the streets of Jerusalem after Jesus’ resurrection.
It’s amazing really, when you think about it.
-->This week marked the 11th anniversary of what has been come to be known as “The Phoenix Lights,” a phenomena that occurred where thousands of residents reported seeing strange lights in the sky, many believing them to be aliens. Others have tried to convince the multitudes that they were some sort of Air Force experimentation.
-->But the point is that we’re still talking about that day.
-->You know full well that if it should ever be totally dark here in Phoenix some day at high noon, and then an earthquake hit amid the total darkness only three hours later, we’d be talking about that day for years after.
-->And yet, these events took place in Jerusalem that day, and only a few days later there was a first century reality of what Hollywood would call the “night of the living dead,” with formerly dead believers suddenly walking around and testifying that Jesus IS the resurrection, and that they too had been resurrected by His power.
There have been sermons preached, books written, and much discussion about the remarkable conversion of the centurion, a man who had witnessed many a crucifixion, but was convinced by all the events accompanying Jesus’ crucifixion, along with the words he heard Jesus speak from the cross that surely Jesus was whom He declared Himself to be...the Son of God.
<>But today I want to focus our attention on the miracle of the torn curtain in the temple, and glean the profoundly important truths that such a remarkable event presents to us and the ways in which it affects our lives today.
I invite you to open your Bibles and turn once again to Matthew, chapter 27.
Today, on the 1978th anniversary of the original Palm Sunday, I want us to focus on this remarkable even that occurred on the 1978th anniversary of Good Friday...the tearing of the temple curtain.
<>Our focus will be surrounding three questions:
--What was the curtain for?
--How was it torn?
--What does the tearing of the curtain mean to us today?
1) WHAT THE CURTAIN WAS...
-->We first hear of the curtain, sometimes called the veil, as Moses was given instructions by God in the wilderness for constructing the tabernacle, the tent of meeting. It is recorded in Ex.36:35 -- "Moreover, (Bezalel) made the veil of blue and purple and scarlet (material), and fine twisted linen; he made it with cherubim, the work of a skillful workman."
-->It was a prominent part of the temple in Jerusalem, just as it had been a prominent part of the sanctuary Moses had built in the wilderness.
-->It was 28 cubits high (about 42 feet).
----The height of the ceiling in this room is approximately 25 feet, so imagine it being half again as high as the ceiling and you’ll get the general picture of how tall this curtain was.
-->And it was 10 cubits wide (about 15 feet).
----The width of the green curtain on the right side of the stage here in the auditorium is about 15 feet, so you can see this was no small curtain.
<>But primarily, its purpose was to serve as a symbol of separation.
--Ex.26:33b -- "...and the veil shall serve for you as a partition between the holy place and the holy of holies."
<>It separated the unholy from the holy.
-->The entire temple area (as you can see by the diagram shown on the screen), was designed as a series of levels of separation.
---*You have the lowest level, the common area known as the Court of the Gentiles, where any person, Jew or Gentile was free to congregate.
---*Then you come up one level to what is called the Court of the Women, where only Jewish persons were allowed.
-----The Court of the Women was where the treasury was, where the early church congregated often at another part of that court, called Solomon’s Porch, and where Jesus and His disciples watched the widow place her last coins into the treasury.