Today is Good Friday. I'm not sure why historically this day is called Good Friday, so someone feel free to chime in. All I know is that "Good Friday" is the day we recognize the merciless death of Jesus on the cross. A death preordained by God so that no one but Him could have stopped it. Which He didn't. That is amazing grace and I'm so thankful.
The first time I observed Good Friday was about 8 years ago before Randy and I became engaged. I took the day off work as my optional holiday and had begun a fast at lunch the day before. I remember eating that sandwich and chips overlooking a beautiful Texas valley down near Gonzales, Texas. I was working as a music therapist and I was down that way treating clients. I had never fasted for 24 hours before, and it was hard. I'm a big eater. But I took that time I would have spent working and eating (a lot) to pray and read the Bible's accounts of the death of Jesus. OK, I also went to a Jennifer Knapp concert, but it wasn't that great since we could smell the delicious aroma of barbecue in the background. Out steaks never tasted so good the next evening as we gathered at my brother and sister-in-law's house with my whole family. Poor Randy. (Totally just kidding.)
How religious was I? How pious! Not really, actually. I don't feel that it is required to observe Good Friday, nor that it is required to fast that day. But personally, I chose to do so in order to really consider the sacrifice He made for me when he died a criminal's death on the cross. Since then I have not "religiously" observed Good Friday. I'm not even sure I've ever fasted that day since that time. I just finished a grilled cheese sandwich with potato rounds and have my Diet Coke by my side right this minute.
The Bible tells us not to walk around looking famished when we fast, lest someone asks what's wrong and we appear to feel self-righteous about the big sacrifice of food. Nothing, NOTHING compares to the sacrifice Jesus made on that day. He is GOD. He could have called an oodle of angelic beings to minister to Him on the cross as he hung there tortured and bleeding. But had He done so, there would have been no Easter, now would there? But more importantly, there would be no salvation, and that is a fate I can't imagine. Actually, I could try to imagine it, because I spent a lot of years running off.
This morning I sat down with my Bible and read the four Gospels' accounts of Jesus's death. What was impressed upon me this morning was the following verse: "Then the sun was darkened, and the veil of the temple was torn in two" (Luke 23:45). The sun, the bright burning sun, was darkened. Not by the passing of the moon over it, but by God Himself. The sun was darkened as the Son died. A similar verse is in the books of Mark (15:38) and Matthew (27:51).
The veil is figuratively the divider which separated man from God. Temple sacrifices were given on the inner side of this veil, accessible only by a select few (one?). The tearing of this sheath illustrated that once and for all, man was no longer separated from God because Jesus is the final blood sacrifice. Thus, John writes, "So when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, "It is finished!" And bowing His head, He gave up His spirit."
It is finished. That's it - no more sacrifice necessary. What a tender mercy! Can you imagine having to sacrifice an animal as a sin offering each time we sin? I'm not talking murder and adultery, either. God's standard is perfection and He knows we can't compete with that! So Jesus - perfection in human form - is it. The final blood sacrifice. I already said that, right? Gee, I wonder why.
So what. So I want to observe the day that this happened so many years ago. What can I possibly give up that would reach the level of sacrifice God made for me? ME! That's crazy. I know I'm pretty cool and can get a laugh or two, but compared to a sinless Jesus I look like a flea, a pest.
It's Friday, but Sunday is coming!