Luke reports that when Jesus died there was an eclipse or something that darkened the sky. He also says “The curtain in the Temple ripped right down the middle” (Luke 23:45). Matthew said the ripped curtain took place during an earthquake. The International Geology Review confirms that there were two major earthquakes that hit the area between 26 BC and A.D. 36. Jesus died sometime between A.D. 30 and A.D. 33, scholars say. The curtain separated the Temple sanctuary from the holiest room in the building—the room where Jews kept their most sacred object: the chest that held the 10 Commandments, the Ark of the Covenant. Only the high priest could go in there, and only one day a year, on the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur). That’s the day when the entire nation repented of their sins. Some Bible experts speculate that God was sending the signal that because Jesus died, we all have access to God and to his forgiveness. What do you think about that theory?
It’s an uplifting theory that starts with the idea that because of what Jesus did on the Cross, everyone has access to God (1 Timothy 2:5). This theory then weaves that New Testament teaching into what may have been a miracle or a coincidence. Either way, it’s a wonderful illustration to show how the sacrifice of Jesus ended the need for the Jewish sacrificial system. Forty years later, Roman soldiers would end the capacity for the Jewish sacrificial system; they leveled the Temple, and it has never been rebuilt. A Muslim shrine now sits on the Temple hilltop. The shrine is Jerusalem’s dominant landmark, the 1400-year-old Dome of the Rock.
Reprinted from the Leader’s Guide & Atlas for Luke