Author’s post publication note: I had to correct one mistake that was published on the paper. I had been researching details on the veil, and most of my information was detailing King Solomon’s temple. When I wrote the column, I ended up calling the temple on Jesus’ day “King Solomon’s Temple”, but that temple was destroyed around 586 BC, when Babylon destroyed Jerusalem. The Temple of Jesus’s day was known as Herod’s temple.
Jerusalem was the center of Jewish religious life at the time of Jesus’ death. An architectural wonder, the temple of King Herod stood mightily as the place where the presence of almighty God dwelled. Jews journeyed from all over the land to celebrate Passover in Jerusalem each year. The temple received the faithful, in a procession of worship and sacrifice. Scriptures tell us that inside the temple, a large veil separated the Holy of Holies – the place where God’s presence remained, unapproached by anyone, except for the High Priest, who would go into the Holy of Holies once a year to sacrifice for the people’s sins. According to Josephus, a first century Jewish historian, Herod’s temple was 40 cubits high. The exact measure of one cubit at that time is uncertain, however, according to scholars, it is safe to say that this veil was somewhere near 60 feet high. Josephus also wrote that the veil was four inches thick and that horses tied to each side could not pull the veil apart. According to the records in the book of Exodus, this impressive veil was made from blue, purple and scarlet material and fine twisted linen.
An imposing structure by all measures, impossibly heavy and thick, separated common men from the presence of Holy God. According to the records of the eye witnesses present during Jesus Christ’s death, the skies turned black. An earthquake assailed the earth. When Jesus breathed His last, the massive veil was torn, and the presence of God moved out of that place, never again to dwell in a temple made by human hands. Three days later, the tomb were Jesus’ body laid was empty, and Messiah appeared in His resurrected body to his disciples first, and then to many witnesses. It is said that over 500 people saw the resurrected Christ at one time. He is alive, and that is what Christians celebrate on Easter each year.
To some, just another story. A fairytale even. To me and many others around the world who celebrate Resurrection Day this weekend, His resurrection is our hope, and the very reason of our joy and peace. The veil was torn. The ultimate and perfect sacrifice was paid. The final prophecy of the first coming of Messiah was fulfilled at the cross. And humanity would not need to measure up anymore. His death set us free. If only we believe.
Easter stirs up an indescribable joy in me. You see, religion is a wonderful thing. Faith, hope and prayer are sure antidotes to depression and fear. But there is always that one thing that happens to every human being that’s ever lived: we all die. It doesn’t matter how happy of a life we have or how much money we have in the bank. Everything under the sun is for a season… and everything will die one day. We will all one day with be plagued by this question: Where will I go after I die?
I don’t know about you, but at the end of my journey on earth, if I were to depend on all the good things I did, I would be doomed. We all would! After all, how can anyone measure up to complete holiness? But because the veil was torn 2015 years ago, and because I have given my life to the resurrected Christ, I know I’ll live forever with Him. Why? Because He said so. And since everything He said He would do came to pass, I have no reason to doubt. I’m never alone and heaven-bound. Now, that’s a wonderful Easter song!