My husband always makes fun of me when I say Good Friday is my favorite day of the year. He argues that in the Christian worldview one cannot really separate the birth of Jesus from His death. One cannot say the day He was born was more or less important than the day He died or rose from the grave. I agree with him that these gifts are intertwined. But we all have our favorites.
Part of what I like about Good Friday is that it doesn’t have the fuss and bustle of Christmas and Easter. I wake up Christmas morning super excited that it is the baby Jesus’ birthday. But I’m also pretty excited to see what awesome goodies my husband has put in my stocking. He’s pretty much amazing at stocking-filling. Easter can be equally distracting when I spend my time finding the perfect matchy matchy outfits for my girls or hustling around my backyard hiding eggs than marveling in the Resurrection. Good Friday, perhaps, is a tad too gory to generate the same popularity.
But more than what it’s not, I like it for what it is. It is a day for us all. It’s a day for the hot messes of the world, of which I count myself one. It is for the needy, the lost, and the messy. It’s a day to ponder God’s acceptance, His radical and welcoming acceptance.
There are so many important and symbolic things I could say about Good Friday- the day we remember Jesus’ death. I don’t possibly have time to talk about them all, since at this moment, my kids have gotten out of bed approximately 31 times each. Some spider sightings, some water needing, some extra tuck-in’s required. I’m short on time so I’ll get right to it.
Mark 15:37, “With a loud cry, Jesus breathed his last.” My favorite part of the account comes one verse later, Mark 15:38, “The curtain of the temple was torn in two from the top to the bottom.” This little verse right here is the good news for us hot-messes of the world and I’ll tell you why.
I committed to reading the Bible in a year. So far, I am 18 months in, and still not done, but whatever, I’m plugging along. I have tried reading the Bible in its entirety several times, and every time somewhere in the book of Numbers I give up. In the Old Testament there is description upon description of God’s tabernacle. I got really sick of reading over and over the exact dimensions of the temple and the tabernacle and the fabric of the curtain and the type of wood and yada yada yada. That’s why I gave up so many times. I’m glad this time I didn’t.
In the Old Testament, God dwelled among the Israelites in one place, a section of the Temple called the Holy of Holies. This section of the temple was separated by a curtain so high and wide that horses tied to each end could not pull it apart. It was 60 feet high and so thick it took 300 men to lift it. In the next outer part of the Temple only the priests were allowed and then in another section only the men and then in another section only the women and gentiles. I think, I could be wrong. The part to remember is this big massive curtain that separated the Holy of Holies from the rest of the temple. This veil was a symbol of man’s separation from a holy God. Only a certain priest was allowed in and only once a year to give a special offering to God. If he did anything against the rules he was struck dead. This was a place of fear and awe for God’s people.
During Jesus’ time on earth He kept trying to tell the religious leaders that the hot-messes of the world were who He came for. He kept trying to tell them that we are all welcome in God’s kingdom. He told them He came to seek and save the lost. He told them to stop judging the adulteress, he told them that the grimy, needy, mangy children were to be their example of how to enter God’s kingdom.
But since they weren’t listening, He had to show them. The moment Jesus died this curtain that separated God from humanity was torn in two. Not ripped; shredded. I picture God holding the curtain in His two massive hands and shredding it really dramatically like a soap opera star ripping up her contract. It’s God saying, ‘See this old contract? Where you had to do all these specific things to be right with me? Where you had to work and toil and strive? I’m done with that. I’m tearing it up. We’re doing something New now.’ It’s almost a violent gesture; one that doesn’t say ‘I guess you can come in’, it says in a Bob Barker voice, ‘COME ON DOWN!’
Not that Jesus came to abolish the old law; He told us He came to fulfill it. (Matthew 5:17) We could not possibly keep God’s holy laws. We couldn’t keep our act together; we couldn’t stop our selfish ways. We couldn’t love big enough no matter how hard we tried. So God made provision through the death of His perfect Son, who gave His life “to ransom those enslaved.”
In a day and age where we are becoming increasingly segregated from one another by our sexual orientations or our denominations or our political affiliations its good to acknowledge that this New thing God did is all on Him. It was He that made a provision for us. It was He that paved a way for us to get close to Him. And the good news about Good Friday is that we are all invited in.