Matthew 27:45-56 (ESV)
45 Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land until the ninth hour. 46 And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” that is, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” 47 And some of the bystanders, hearing it, said, “This man is calling Elijah.” 48 And one of them at once ran and took a sponge, filled it with sour wine, and put it on a reed and gave it to him to drink. 49 But the others said, “Wait, let us see whether Elijah will come to save him.” 50 And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice and yielded up his spirit. 51 And behold, the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. And the earth shook, and the rocks were split. 52 The tombs also were opened. And many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised, 53 and coming out of the tombs after his resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many. 54 When the centurion and those who were with him, keeping watch over Jesus, saw the earthquake and what took place, they were filled with awe and said, “Truly this was the Son of God!” 55 There were also many women there, looking on from a distance, who had followed Jesus from Galilee, ministering to him, 56 among whom were Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of James and Joseph and the mother of the sons of Zebedee.
Matthew records that from the sixth hour until the ninth hour, from noon until 3pm, darkness covered all the land. The supernatural darkness resulted from Jesus acting as a sin offering before the Father and climaxed with Jesus calling out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Jesus said this loudly enough for others to hear. As he called out to God, “Eli” in Aramaic, bystanders thought he was calling out to Elijah. They waited to see if Elijah would come and rescue him. After this cry, Jesus chose to give up his spirit (v. 50). This was all in God’s predetermined plan and happened exactly as he intended. Many readers of Matthew overlook the three incredible events that transpired next. First, the curtain separating the Holy Place from the Most Holy Place in the temple was torn in two. Next, an earthquake split even rocks in half, and finally, to top it off, many believers who had died were resurrected and went into Jerusalem. Wow! Jesus was in control of both the living and the dead! It is no wonder that the centurion and his companions were terrified and recognized that Jesus truly was the Son of God (v. 54).
It is incredibly significant that the curtain in the temple was torn in two with the death of Christ. This heavy curtain separated the Holy Place into a Most Holy Place that very few could ever enter. In fact, only the high priest could go into this space and only one time per year. The “regular” priests were not permitted in the Most Holy Place. Verse 51 tells us the curtain was torn from top to bottom. This top to bottom tear revealed that it was God himself who ripped the curtain in half. The curtain was no longer necessary, as access to God’s throne was not limited as it was before. With the death of Jesus, all believers may enter into the presence of God. The Messiah dealt with sin on the cross once and for any who might place her trust in him and turn in repentance from self to God. After reading today, take a couple of minutes to pray. When you pray, realize that the open and direct access you have to God was made possible only by Jesus’ work on the cross.