November 14, 2011
The Cry and the Veil
“And Jesus cried with a loud voice, and gave up the ghost.
And the veil of the Temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom.”
Mark 15:37, 38
The moment had come. The work was complete except for His death. In full command of every faculty, aware of all having been completed, the Lord Jesus breathed out His spirit or expired. No man could take His life from Him; He freely gave it up.
Our verses tell us of three things: His cry with a loud voice, His breathing out of His spirit, and the rending of the veil in the temple. Many reasons have been suggested for the rending of the veil. Normally we think of it as indicating the direct access into God’s presence that we enjoy today. But it would have also been a sign – a powerful one – to the Jews, and especially to the priests serving in the temple. It was rent in two, from the top to the bottom. No human hand or agency could be responsible. But perhaps what it revealed to them was that the holy place was vacant; there was no glory cloud hovering over the mercy seat. God’s presence was not to be seen. Their temple was forsaken!
How did they respond? There must have been a frenzied effort to patch it up, to repair the evidence of a broken system. Likely only a few days or weeks later they were carrying on as though nothing had happened. Yet heaven had spoken and pointed their gaze to the Redeemer and not to the ritual of the temple. God had borne witness in His own unique way to all peoples: the darkness, the opened tombs of which Matthew tells us. Whether Jew, Greek, or barbarian, each would have something to impress them that what transpired at Calvary was not “normal.” In grace and mercy, when the globe deserved the unrestrained wrath of God, when we impaled His Son on the cross, God was trying to speak, screaming at men, not about their sin, but about the uniqueness of the death of His Son. He was pointing them to the Savior!
1. Can you see any significance to the difference in order in the Gospel accounts? Luke who always gives a moral order rather than a chronologic one, tells us that the veil was rent prior to Christ commending His spirit to His Father?
2. Each of the Gospel writers uses a different word for the act of dismissing His spirit. Look at the different words in the original language and see how fitting each is for the gospel in which it is found.
3. Why did the Lord Jesus have to actually die, and not only suffer for sins? Look at Romans 6 and consider what His death has done concerning our “old man” and every link with the law.