Fascinating Fact No. 1: The Veil That Was Ripped in Two
When Jesus died on the cross, the temple veil was ripped in two.
“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 NIV).
This curtain was between the Holy Place, reserved for the priests, and the Holy of Holies, where the Ark of the Covenant was. The veil was extremely heavy—approximately 10 cm (or four inches) thick! So it was quite miraculous when that heavy curtain—thicker than any cloth, rug, or drapery you have ever seen—was suddenly split down the middle!
Look up Mark 15:38; Luke 23:44–45.
INSIDE ARRANGEMENT OF THE TEMPLE AT JERUSALEM:
Court of the Priests
Court of the Women Or Treasury
Veil of the Temple
Court of Israel
In the Ark of the Covenant were some of the Jewish religion’s holiest relics of famous past events, such as the tablets of stone of the law that Moses received (Exodus 34:28). Also in the box was Aaron's rod that budded (Numbers 17:1–10). There was also a dish of manna in the box to remind them how God had fed them in the wilderness (Exodus 16:14–27, 33; Hebrews 9:4).
Then there were two cherubim, one on each end of the box looking inward, with their wings outstretched toward each other with the wingtips touching (Exodus 37:7–9; Hebrews 9:5). The most important thing about the box was a bright light that hovered between the two angels called the Shekinah Glory—a very brilliant light representing the Spirit of God.
THE ARK OF THE COVENANT
2 CHERUBIM or SERAPHIM looking inward
The SHEKINAH GLORY (The Spirit of God)
2 POLES on each side
Ark made of shettim wood (currently known as acacia wood) covered with a pure gold plating
INSIDE THE ARK: stone tablet of the Law;
Aaron’s staff that budded; sample of manna
Once a year only the high priest would go back to where the Ark was on what is a very holy day to the Jews, Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement.1 That was the day the high priest symbolically2 took the sins of the people upon himself, which was symbolized by the ceremony and the blood of the sacrifice. He was sprinkled with the blood, and he went back behind this huge heavy curtain to present the sacrificial blood before the Ark to God for the remission3 of sins.
Labels for pictures:
Breastplate of Judgment, Exodus 28:15–30
Ephod outer garment, Exodus 28:4–30
The robe, Exodus 28:31–35
For more on the garments of the high priest see also Exodus 28:1–43; Exodus 29:4–7; Exodus 39:1–31; Leviticus 8:6–9.
Jesus' death on the cross marked the fulfillment of the law [the Ten Commandments and other laws the Jewish people lived by, found in the Books of the Law of the Bible—Genesis through Deuteronomy]. God replaced these old illustrations with the gift He gave the world through Jesus’ death and resurrection! Look up Matthew 5:17.
The next time we read about the Ark in the Bible, we find it in heaven, with the Shekinah Glory—which represents the Spirit of God.
“Then God’s temple in heaven was opened, and within his temple was seen the ark of his covenant. And there came flashes of lightning, rumblings, peals of thunder, an earthquake and a great hailstorm” (Revelation 11:19 NIV). (Place text into image: “Bible open.jpg”)
Fascinating Fact No. 2: How Jesus Died
Narrator: Jesus went through the experience of death as a sinner for you and me, which, thank God, we will never have to go through.—Not just crucifixion, not just the agony of body, but the agony of mind and heart and spirit, feeling that God had actually deserted Him! Jesus was feeling like the lost sinner. He said, “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?” which is interpreted, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?" (Matthew 27:46).
Understanding this should help us appreciate all the more what Jesus did for us.
Had God forsaken Jesus? Yes, momentarily He had.
He had to so that Jesus might die the death of a sinner without God.
God had to turn His back on His own Son temporarily so that Jesus might die the death of the sinner for our sins.
He took our punishment for us. He didn’t only experience crucifixion and the agony of the cross, but He also experienced heartbreak.
Jesus was suffering the spiritual agony of the dying sinner who would be lost without God’s salvation. Jesus did this because He was dying for our sins. He bore the sins of the world. He did that out of a personal love for each one of us, so that those who receive Jesus wouldn't have to go through a sinner's lonely death!
Fascinating Fact No. 3: The Passover Lamb
Jesus was crucified on Passover Eve, which was the time they killed the Passover lamb. The Passover is a Jewish holiday that celebrates the escape of the Jewish people from slavery in Egypt (Exodus 12:11–12).
As they were crucifying Jesus, on that eve of this high Sabbath, throughout the land of Israel the Jewish people were selecting and slaughtering the Passover lamb. Jesus’ death was what they had actually been symbolizing for thousands of years with the Passover supper, the killing of the Lamb of God (John 1:29). Jesus, the Lamb of God, died at the same time that most of the Passover lambs were being killed. Think of that!
Fascinating Fact No. 4: Spooky Old Testament Saints!
Narrator: There are some spooky things that are recorded in the Bible. Did you know that lots of dead people came back to life and appeared to people throughout Jerusalem right after Jesus’ resurrection?
“And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose, and came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many” (Matthew 27:52–53 KJV).
Jesus was not the only one who rose from the dead on Easter. The Bible says that the bodies of the saints which "slept" arose, and came out of the graves after Jesus’ resurrection. Therefore, as Paul says, Jesus, who was the first one to be resurrected and rise from the dead, was the firstfruits (1 Corinthians 15:20, 23).
The bodies actually were raised up out of the graves after His resurrection. Some of them went into Jerusalem and appeared unto many to try to encourage their faith.
Fascinating Fact No. 5: A Cover-Up!
Some of the Jewish leadership wanted to make sure Jesus’ disciples didn't steal His body and claim that He'd risen. So they put a stone over the door of His tomb with the governor's seal on it. They put a Roman guard there as well to guard it (Matthew 27:62–66).
God allowed them to put the stone there and the seal and the Roman guard because that absolutely proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that Jesus did rise from the dead! Otherwise people might have been able to claim, "Well, the disciples rolled away the stone and stole His body."
Read Matthew 28:11–15 about how Jesus’ enemies tried to cover up His resurrection after they failed to stop it from happening!
Contributed by Evan Kallen, adapted by MWS staff, based on writings published by TFI.
Illustrations by Didier Martin and Leila Shae. Design by Christia Copeland.
Copyright 2011 by The Family International