Then Jesus calling out with a loud voice said, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!” And having said this, he breathed his last. And all the crowds that had assembled for this spectacle when they saw what had taken place returned home beating their breasts.
If they were family members, they would have torn their clothes. Keriah. But a public crowd still showed grief by pounding on their hearts, for the majority of them did not understand that Christ would be resurrected.
ELIJAH AS PRECURSOR Let's continue reading in Matthew 27.
And some of the bystanders, hearing it, said, “This man is calling Elijah.” 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. But the others said, “Wait, let us see whether Elijah will come to save him.” And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice and yielded up his spirit.
This is 800 years after Elijah had lived on earth. The people must have thought Elijah could save Jesus, perhaps chariot and all. Yet within a few verses Jesus dies.
Above all, just like Elisha who tore his clothes in two, this was and is not a sign of grief. The tearing of the veil at the moment of Jesus' death dramatically symbolized that His sacrifice, the shedding of His own blood, was a sufficient atonement for sins. It signified that now the way into the Holy of Holies was open for all people, for all time, both Jew and Gentile.
When Jesus died, the curtain was torn, and God moved out of that place never again to dwell in a temple made with hands according to Acts 17:24. In a sense, the veil was symbolic of Christ Himself as the only way to the Father (John 14:6). Before, the high priest had to enter the Holy of Holies through the curtain. Now Christ became our High Priest, and as believers in His finished work, we can enter the Holy of Holies through Him.
Hebrews 10:19-20 says that the faithful enter into the sanctuary by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way which he opened for us through the veil, that is, through his flesh. Here we see the image of Jesus’ flesh being torn for us.
As Elisha tore his clothes, knowing he was walking into a double portion and a new life, Christ tore the veil for us so that we can walk into a new life that He prepared.