Friday, April 22, 2011

Good Friday, Indeed

The Friday before Easter is called Good Friday. As a little girl, this was very confusing to me. I didn't understand why we would celebrate the day Jesus died and call it "Good". To those that don't follow Jesus nor believe the Word of God, Good Friday is nothing more than a nice day off work, the start of a long weekend. Spring time weather, a day of work, a quiet day with friends and family..... these are all good things. But, do you know why it's REALLY good? Like, life-changing, life-saving GOOD?

During the time of Jesus' life, the temple in Jerusalem was the center of religious life. It was "the church", multiplied by 10. People worshipped there, prayed there, and sacrificed there. However, the main difference between the temple of Jesus' time and the church of our time was the curtain. This curtain wasn't decorative, it wasn't thin and sheer. It had a purpose.

The curtain was there to make a separation. It might as well have been a wall. A first century Jewish historian named Josephus tells us that the curtain was somewhere near 60 feet high and 4 inches thick. Like I said, this curtain had a purpose: separation. On one side of the curtain was the Holy of Holies, the dwelling place of God. On the other side of the curtain was the people. The common man could not pass the curtain. The only human being that was allowed to go behind the curtain was the temple's high priest, and he could only go behind the curtain once a year. He did so to enter God's presence and to make atonement for the sins of all of Israel.

My Jesus was sentenced to death. He carried his heavy cross with a crown of thorns upon His head. The head of my King. They nailed his hands to the wooden cross, they whipped and beat Him. His feet were nailed to the cross and He was spat upon. He was mocked. He suffered a slow, painful, agonizing death.

But at the sixth hour, darkness came over the whole land until the ninth hour. At the ninth hour, with a loud cry, my Jesus breathed His last.

One of my favorite verses comes next. Mark 15:38. (THIS IS THE GOOD PART!!)

"The curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom"- Mark 15:38.

That's it. One simple, informative sentence that seems to just be relaying the sequence of events. But it says so much more than "here's what happened next". This is what makes Good Friday so, so very good.

That giant, heavy, 4 inch thick curtain ripped apart. Do you understand what that means? NO MORE SEPARATION.

Before Jesus died, man was so very sinful that He could not come into the presence of God. We were too dirty. We had to find someone deemed holier than us to enter the presence of God on our behalf. We couldn't even ask the Lord for forgiveness. Someone else had to do that for us.

Jesus was crucified so that we could enter God's presence. He paid for our sins and now we can come before the Holy of Holies. Acts 17:24 tells us that "The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and does not live in temples built by human hands". YOU DO NOT HAVE TO GO TO CHURCH TO BE CLOSE TO GOD. Because of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, you can cry out to God as you're laying in your bed. You can cry out to Him from your desk at work. You can confess your sin to Him in the car on your way to have dinner with friends. You can ask for forgiveness in the shower. You can praise Him on your daily jog.

Jesus died so that you can be saved. You can be with Him for all of eternity.

One of my favorite speakers, Afshin Ziafat, said something along the lines of, "The next time you are upset about your prayers going unanswered, remember that the greatest gift you have came about because the request of "Take this cup from me" was denied."
That, my friends. That is why Good Friday is so, so good.

**If all that I've written here is confusing to you, or you have questions, I'd love to talk with you about them. Leave a comment with your email address.**