Summary: What is the significance to the fact that when Jesus died, the temple curtain was torn in two from top to bottom?
"With a loud cry, Jesus breathed his last. The curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom." - Mark 15:37-38 (NIV)
The curtain mentioned is the inner curtain that separates the Holy of Holies from the Holy Place. The holy of holies was where the Ark of the Covenant was located, which symbolized the throne of God and presence of God. We are told here is that the curtain was torn from top to bottom. This illustrates three things for us:
1. God's pursuit of us - The curtain being torn in two from the top to the bottom signifies it was at God's initiative provision for sin was made.
"Christ arrives right on time to make this happen. He didn’t, and doesn’t, wait for us to get ready. He presented himself for this sacrificial death when we were far too weak and rebellious to do anything to get ourselves ready. And even if we hadn’t been so weak, we wouldn’t have known what to do anyway. We can understand someone dying for a person worth dying for, and we can understand how someone good and noble could inspire us to selfless sacrifice. But God put his love on the line for us by offering his Son in sacrificial death while we were of no use whatever to him." - Romans 5:6-8 (The Message)
"Throughout Scripture we encounter a God who is on a quest, a seeking God, chasing and pursuing. The pages of the Bible are permeated with the seeking of God. God has been a seeker all along. It's within His nature, it's who He is and something He enjoys about Himself. Yet it should startle us that the completely omniscient, self-sufficient God that owns everything and needs nothing would seek for something, and that this something would be us." - Benjamin Schäfer
The curtain that symbolically separated man from God being torn from top to bottom speaks of God's pursuit of us.
2. God's provision for us - When was it torn? When Jesus, having finished paying the price for the sins of the world, breathed His last.
"The Father loves me because I sacrifice my life so I may take it back again. No one can take my life from me. I sacrifice it voluntarily. For I have the authority to lay it down when I want to and also to take it up again. For this is what my Father has commanded." - John 10:17-18 (NLT)
Only after Jesus had finished paying the price for the sins of the world did he lay down His life. And as proof that He had fully paid sin's penalty, which is death, He was raised back to life on the third day.
"The debt was so great, that while man alone owed it, only God could pay it." - Anselm
Now that the penalty for sin has been paid, there is nothing to keep us from a personal relationship with God except our unwillingness to enter His presence.
The curtain that symbolically separated man from God being torn from top to bottom speaks of God's provision for us.
3. God's promise to us.
The curtain that symbolically separated man from God being torn from top to bottom speaks of God's promise to us; and the promise is this, "whosoever will, may come."
"And so, dear brothers and sisters, we can boldly enter heaven’s Most Holy Place because of the blood of Jesus. By his death, Jesus opened a new and life-giving way through the curtain into the Most Holy Place." - Hebrews 10:19-20 (NLT)