2. The Torn Veil


When we think about what God was doing while Jesus hung on the cross, it shouldn’t really surprise us that He provided some visible miracles for those who were onlookers.

Whilst Christ hung on the cross, there were four miraculous events which occurred.

1. The 3 hours of darkness, Matthew 27:45 / Luke 23:44-45.

2. The veil of the temple was torn into two, Matthew 27:50-51 / Mark 15:37-38.

3. An earthquake, Matthew 27:50-52.

4. The graves opening up and dead people being raised to life, Matthew 27:50-53.

In this study, we will look at the significance of the torn veil.

The Veil

‘Make a curtain of blue, purple and scarlet yarn and finely twisted linen, with cherubim woven into it by a skilled worker. Hang it with gold hooks on four posts of acacia wood overlaid with gold and standing on four silver bases. Hang the curtain from the clasps and place the ark of the covenant law behind the curtain. The curtain will separate the Holy Place from the Most Holy Place. Put the atonement cover on the ark of the covenant law in the Most Holy Place. Place the table outside the curtain on the north side of the tabernacle and put the lampstand opposite it on the south side. “For the entrance to the tent make a curtain of blue, purple and scarlet yarn and finely twisted linen—the work of an embroiderer. Make gold hooks for this curtain and five posts of acacia wood overlaid with gold. And cast five bronze bases for them.’ Exodus 26:31-37

When God gave Moses instructions concerning the tabernacle, He tells him that the veil or curtain as some translations render it, was to be a divider between the holy place and the Holy of Holies. The veil was made using the four colours, blue, purple, scarlet and white, of the fine linen.

These four colours were also used at the Door of the Outer Court, Exodus 27:16-17, the Door to the Sanctuary, Exodus 26:36-37, the Cherubim Embroidered Covering that forms the ceiling of the Tabernacle, Exodus 26:1-6, and on the Ephod the high priest wore, Exodus 28:5-14 / Exodus 39:2-7.

The veil is the final door to pass through, to enter into the presence of God in the Holy of Holies. Entry was forbidden to all except one, the high priest, and his access was not free, he was permitted entry once only per year, on the Day of Atonement, when he brought the blood of the sacrificed goat to sprinkle on the lid, called the Mercy Seat, of the Ark of the Covenant, Exodus 25:10-22 / Exodus 37:1-9.

‘And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit. At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom.’ Matthew 27:50-51

‘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

The Veil

When the veil was made for the tabernacle it was around 4.6 meters, 15ft high but in the temple, it was around 25 meters high, 82ft high. It’s been estimated to be around 4 inches thick.

The Veil Torn In Two From Top To Bottom

The size of the veil would have made it impossible for any human to tear this into 2 pieces and because it was torn from top to bottom, which signifies that this was a work of God. God did it from the top to bottom to show that it was He who was making a way for us to come into His presence.

The Priests In The Temple

It’s often overlooked that when the veil was torn in two, there would have been many priests within the temple at this time.

The Centurion

Matthew, Matthew 27:54 and Luke, Luke 23:47, both record that the centurion at the crucifixion saw the veil tearing in two. This implies that this Gentile soldier could also see straight into the Holy of Holies.

The Significance Of The Torn Veil

The veil, itself, was a symbol of our sin which separated us from God, Isaiah 59:2, it reminds us that we were excluded from the presence of God because of our sinfulness, Romans 3:23.

However, just as the Passover lamb was slain for the redemption of the children of Israel in Egypt, and the goat was slain so that its blood could obtain God’s forgiveness for the Israelites on the Day of Atonement, so Jesus ‘bore our sins in His own body on the tree’. 1 Peter 2:24.

It’s now possible, on the basis of faith in Jesus’ death for our sins, to stand in the presence of God as justified and forgiven people, Romans 5:1-2 / Hebrews 10:19-22.

As Hebrews 10:19-22 shows, the way to the Holy of Holies has been opened up for us through the veil of Jesus’ flesh being torn on the cross.

There is a ‘new’ literally ‘freshly slain’ and ‘living’ way for us to enter. The Lord Jesus Christ is not just our freshly slain, dead offering, He is also the Living One, Luke 24:5 / Revelation 1:18, risen from the dead and ascended, our great High Priest, with our names on His heart, the Breastplate and shoulders, the shoulder stones, going into the Holy of Holies, where God’s presence is over the Ark of the Covenant!

When Jesus cried out, ‘It is finished’, John 19:30, this was a cry of triumph. He had accomplished the work He came to do. As the Lamb of God, John 1:29, He had now finished His work. Satan was now defeated, his rebellion against God was ruined, and his works were destined for destruction, 1 John 3:8.

He was the perfect sacrifice, an innocent man dying in our place in order for us to be forgiven of our sins, Hebrews 9:22. No one else could have done this, no one else can ever do this, Jesus alone was worthy, Revelation 5:1-9. The way to God was finally opened to everyone, regardless of their race or gender, Hebrews 9:11-12 / Hebrews 4:16.

Why Did God Tear The Veil?

God tore the veil in two because He didn’t want anyone to have any doubts that the death of Jesus was significant for all. His Son came to die for the world, John 3:16, in order for us to have a way to be saved, John 14:6.

Just like the purpose of the miracles of Jesus, God tore the veil from top to bottom to bring about faith in His Son and who He claimed to be, John 20:30-31.


The tearing of the veil from top to bottom was nothing less than another miracle from God. This miracle signified that He had opened the door for us to come in and have a relationship with Him. Jesus paid the ultimate sacrifice so the veil, or separation, was no longer needed. We can now enter His presence through Christ Himself.

As Jesus hung on the cross, many people would have witnessed the miracle of the three hours of darkness, Matthew 27:45 / Luke 23:44-45, the veil of the temple was torn into two, Matthew 27:50-51 / Mark 15:37-38, the earthquake, Matthew 27:50-52, the graves opening up and dead people being raised to life, Matthew 27:50-53.

They would have to conclude, as the centurion soldier did, that ‘Truly, this man was the Son of God,’ Mark 15:39.


"Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship."