It was now about the sixth hour, and darkness came over the whole land until the ninth hour. The sun was darkened, and the veil of the temple was torn in two. Jesus, crying with a loud voice, said, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!” Having said this, he breathed his last.
When the centurion saw what was done, he glorified God, saying, “Certainly this was a righteous man.” All the multitudes that came together to see this, when they saw the things that were done, returned home beating their breasts. All his acquaintances, and the women who followed with him from Galilee, stood at a distance, watching these things.
Here we read that, at the sixth hour, it got dark unnaturally. This would have been a pretty obvious and scary thing to all of those who were mocking just moments before. Also, the veil that separated the Most Holy Place from the Holy Place in the temple tore in half by itself. This wasn’t just a strange event, it was a symbolic one. The veil was there to separate God from mankind. No man was allowed into the Most Holy Place without special preparation and were only allowed to go in at appointed times. There was a serious chance of not being prepared correctly and being struck dead by a Holy God. The Ark of the Covenant was in this part of the temple and the Bible records that even accidentally touching this would kill a man on the spot as well.
The symbol we see in the tearing of the veil is that Jesus’ death tore down the barrier between God and mankind. Where once men were required to have special preparation to keep God from striking them dead in His presence, they were now free to walk right in to the Most Holy Place! Jesus provided the final preparations that would purify all of mankind, ending God’s wrath against us forever if we accept it.
Apologetics: If there was ever a time for Jesus to stop pretending to be the Son of God it would have been at this point and it was at this point that He called on His Father. I think this is a strong confirmation that Jesus was not lying. I think it’s safe to assume that this centurion had seen many crucifixions. He had probably heard many liars confess as well. Since it is pretty clear that Jesus wasn’t lying, that leaves two other possibilities to consider. Either He was crazy or He was the Son of God. If you were thinking that He might be crazy, then the supernatural events that took place might convince you otherwise. A crazy man can’t arrange for supernatural darkness and veil tearing. This and all of the miracles that Jesus performed make it clear from the evidence that He was really was who He said He was. It is no wonder that the centurion was convinced when he witnessed what happened as God made the evidence clear to him.