There’s a little detail in the account of Jesus’ crucifixion in Matthew that’s begging to be paid attention to:
“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. The earth shook and the rocks split” (Matthew 27:50-51).
That little detail is about the curtain. There were alot of curtains and barriers in the temple, each forming a barrier of separation. And as you went further in, and closer and closer to God, it became more and more restrictive. This curtain, the one that was ripped, formed the boundary between the “holy place,” the inner sanctuary where it was said that God resided, the place where the high priest could only go one time a year, and those outside.
When Jesus died, the barrier was torn in two. Now, because of Jesus, we have access to that place. Jesus is the only thing now between us and the depths of God. No curtains. No barriers.
But here’s the detail: The curtain was ripped from top to bottom.
Why include that in the account? Why not just say it was torn? If the only thing Matthew wanted to comment on was the removal of the barrier, just saying the curtain was torn would have been more than enough. But he went ahead and included the fact that not only was the curtain torn, but it was torn from top to bottom.
It was ripped in half from the top – where God is – to the bottom – where we are. You see where we’re going with this.
Who ripped the curtain? It was God. He ripped it, and because He ripped it, it was torn from top to bottom. With all our efforts to get to Him, all our self-righteousness, all our good works, all our intellect, the curtain never got ripped from bottom to top. But God? He’s the initiator. He’s the tearer.
And so the curtain came down that day, torn in two by the hands of a God bent on intimacy with His people.