Something Strange Happened

At the moment of Christ’s death, something strange occurred. And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice, and yielded up His spirit. Then, behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; and the earth quaked, and the rocks were split” (Matthew 27:50-51). Not only was there an earthquake, but the veil of the sacred Temple in Jerusalem was torn in two. Why was the veil of the temple torn in two? What was the significance of this event?
The Temple was the only place where sacrifices could be offered to God. This was where God’s presence was manifested. The veil of the Temple was a curtain, which separated the Holy of Holies from the rest of the Temple. The Holy of Holies was the most sacred part of the Temple because this was where God dwelt since Solomon, King David’s son, built the Temple. No one was permitted to enter this part of the temple, except the High Priest, who entered once a year on the Day of Atonement to offer a blood sacrifice for his own sins and those of God’s people. This was where the Ark of the Covenant was kept, which according to Hebrews 9:4 held “the golden pot that had the manna, Aaron’s rod that budded, and the tablets of the covenant (on which God had written the Ten Commandments).
The veil is believed to have been about sixty feet tall, thirty feet wide, and possibly about four inches thick. This veil was substantial. It was made to protect the Holy of Holies, yet at the moment of Christ’s death, it was torn in two. According to Hebrews 9, the services on the Day of Atonement were symbolic, a shadow of things to come. The gifts and sacrifices offered could not truly cleanse God’s people of their sins, yet they symbolized the sacrifice of the Messiah to come. Christ’s sacrifice on the cross replaced the need for animal sacrifices. Christ, our God, shed His blood to offer us a way to enter the Holy of Holies, the true presence of God. For those who receive Christ’s sacrifice in their hearts, the Holy Spirit, God Himself, comes to live inside of each of us. There is no longer a need for a Temple made with hands. A new heart I will give you, and a new spirit I will put within you; and I will remove from your body the heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh” (Ezekiel 36:26). Today, as Christians, we are the temple of God. Think about this. God Himself lives within you!
Keeping this in mind, Christ’s words take on new meaning, “‘Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me’” (Matthew 25:40). There is profound truth in these words. If God truly lives within each faithful Christian, then Christ’s words can be literally interpreted to mean that how we treat others is how we treat the Holy Spirit within them. This is why he said, “Truly.” This is a spiritual truth.
The Holy Spirit within each of us binds us together. “For in the one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and we were all made to drink of one Spirit” (I Corinthians 12:13). We are one body in Christ through the Holy Spirit. Therefore, if we insult or mistreat a Christian, we grieve the Holy Spirit within them, the same Holy Spirit that is within ourselves. Therefore we, too, experience the pangs of conscience, which is truly the Holy Spirit’s sadness for our sinful behavior. The Holy Spirit is one person of the Trinity. He unites us to God and to one another. The passage leading up to this verse, begins “‘for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me’” (Matthew 25:35-36). When we care for our Christian brothers and sisters, we truly care for God within them. In the same vein, “If one member suffers, all suffer together with it; if one member is honored, all rejoice together with it” (I Corinthians 12:26). When we interact with one another, we should imagine the face of Christ within them and treat them accordingly, with love and respect. 
The veil symbolized the separation of God from humanity. When the veil was torn, the separation from God was removed by Christ. Since His resurrection, we have the opportunity to be in communion with God through the Holy Spirit. We can communicate with Him directly, and we can hear His voice, if we listen. How can we hear Him? The Holy Spirit speaks to our hearts and minds in the language of love, guiding us to always act in love. He asks us to become humble, meek, merciful, forgiving, and compassionate toward others. When we act in love toward others, especially Christians, we are showing love toward Christ because the Holy Spirit unites believers with God and with one another. If we hear His voice and follow our conscience by acting in love when each opportunity arises, the Holy Spirit rejoices and fills us with His joy. This is how we know we are hearing God’s voice. This is how we experience God’s presence within us. God lives within each faithful Christian. Listen for His voice and experience God! 

© 2017  Helen Kamenos  All rights reserved

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