When Jesus yielded up his spirit there were signs attending his death. The most significant of these was the curtain in the temple that separates the Holy of Holies from the Holy Place was torn in two from top to bottom.
This was no ordinary curtain. It separated the Ark of the Covenant from the people. It was quite a thick and heavy curtain and stood twenty cubits tall (thirty feet or a little over nine metres). No man would have the strength or the capability to tear this curtain in two, especially beginning from the top.
This curtain was also a symbolic barrier. Only the high priest could enter behind it, and then only once each year on the day of Atonement to offer sacrifices for sin, first for himself and then for the people. This showed that there was a barrier between man and God, and that barrier was sin. No man could enter into the presence of God because of sin. All men sinned and fell short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). Only the high priest could approach God once a year in the Holy of Holies and only after offering the sacrifices for sin for himself and the people.
But at the death of Jesus all this was changed. The veil that stood between man and God in the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. Symbolically this shows that at the death of Jesus it became possible for all men to come into the presence of God since there no longer existed a barrier. The way was open to all people through the death of Christ. He took not the blood of goats and bulls as a sin offering, but his own blood as the perfect sacrifice. And not for forgiveness of sin, but to take away the sins of man and set man free from sin and law so that men could come into the presence of God.
That is why these signs occurred at his death. They indicated there was a new way forward and a new way for man to stand righteous before God.
Other signs were the great earthquake that shook the earth and the saint that were resurrected from the tombs and went into the holy city. We should note that these saints were not resurrected until after the resurrection of Jesus. This was to show that Jesus is the resurrection and the life as he had stated. (John 11:25)
The earthquake that shook the earth at his death was nothing compared to how the New Covenant would shake the world from that time forward. We are still feeling the power of the death and resurrection of Jesus shaking the world today.
Is it any wonder then that the Centurion and those standing with him said, “Truly, this was the Son of God.” (Verse 54)