Torn in Two

And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice and yielded up his spirit. And behold, the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. And the earth shook, and the rocks were split. Matthew 27:50-51

The most watched miniseries of all time was The Bible on the History Channel. I, too, watched this production produced by Roma Downey, star of the TV series Touched by an Angel, and her third husband, Mark Burnett. Although enjoyable, there were many liberties taken of Scripture. I had issues with some of the portrayals, but I was deeply concerned with how Burnett and Downey depicted the crucifixion. The Lord’s suffering along the Via Dolorosa was very Roman Catholic. Jesus fell three times, spoke to his mother Mary, and had his brow wiped by Veronica—none of which is in Scripture.

On the cross, Jesus spoke seven times—the most important being when he cried out, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me!” This wailing statement came forth at the time when all of sin was placed on him as he became the curse of God. A holy God cannot look upon sin and therefore Christ felt abandoned. But this abandonment gives us hope, for Christ died to pay our debt, serve our punishment, and make peace with God the Father. These words were not in the crucifixion scene of Downey and Burnett. To neglect this cry is to ignore the real reason that Jesus had to die. Roman Catholics still think they can attain heaven by their good deeds. If this were so, then Jesus had no need to come to earth and die on a cross.

The producers did show that an earthquake occurred at the death of Christ and a curtain in the temple falling down before Caiaphas. There was no depiction of the veil in the holy of holies being torn in two from top to bottom, another significant occurrence left out of the miniseries, which tells mankind that the way to Christ is now open without having to go through priests. I can’t help but think of the Roman Catholic influence that still insists that a person must go to a priest to confess his sins. The priest therefore continues to act as mediator between sinner and God.

The renting of the veil was no small miracle, for such a curtain was 4 to 6 inches thick. The tearing was not intended merely as a display of power, but rather to teach believers some great truths. First, the law of sacrificial ordinances was satisfied and, like a worn-out vestment, ripped and thrown away. When Jesus died, the sacrifices were finished, completed and fulfilled in him; and therefore the place of sacrifice, the temple, was clearly marked with change.

Second, the torn curtain tells us that all the hidden and concealed things of the Old Testament sacrificial system could now be seen. The mercy seat that hid behind the veil was revealed, indicating that all who place faith in Christ have direct access to the Lord Almighty. Christians can now boldly approach the throne of grace without an earthly mediator, for Christ is the only mediator between God and man (1 Tim. 2:5).

Third, the annual ceremony for the day of atonement was also abolished. The atoning blood that once every year was sprinkled behind the curtain and inside the Holy of Holies was now offered once for all by the great High Priest, Jesus Christ. No blood of bullocks or of lambs need be shed, for Jesus has entered inside the curtain shedding his own blood as the Lamb of God.

The renting of the curtain, however, does not allow all people access to the gates of paradise. Jesus is the High Priest, who has entered the inner place behind the curtain to become the anchor of our soul and is the only key to heaven (Heb. 6:19-20). Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life; and no one comes to the Father unless through him” (John 14:6). When Diogo Morgado (portrayer of Jesus in the miniseries) quoted this Scripture from John’s gospel, he did not repeat the last phrase. Neglecting to say “no one comes to the Father except through him” removes the exclusivity of Christianity—that Christ and Christ alone is the way to heaven, thereby letting the populace think that there are other roads to God the Father.

Christ is the ONE-WAY STREET to God. No one will see heaven without confessing Christ and placing faith in him.