Christians all over the world today are engaging in rituals designed to commemorate that one event that changed forever the way that humans relate to God. Ministers have concocted sermons they hope will evoke some sort of emotion in the hearer that will move us to action.
Why do we feel like we need to conjure up emotions of horror that are supposed to lead to overwhelming gratefulness? We watch movies like Passion of the Christ, or sit under teaching that graphically describes the torturous death of Jesus Christ. Frankly, humanity has been enduring martyrdom for their beliefs for millennia. They still are. I think when we focus so heavily on the physical suffering of Christ we have missed the point entirely.
The real sweet spot lies in this part of the story:
Then Jesus shouted out again, and he released his spirit. At that moment the curtain in the sanctuary of the Temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. Matthew 27:50-51a
There were supernatural events taking place in the spiritual realm that day that, in my opinion, were far more significant to Jesus’ experience than the physical torture. This was no ordinary martyrdom. This was a mystical opening of heaven to humanity. The curtain that separated us from the manifestation of God in the holy place of the Jewish temple was torn in two; from top to bottom – from heaven to earth as a symbol of the work Jesus was doing on our behalf that day. Humanity would no longer be separated from God.
That is what I remember today. I have spent many a Good Friday in various churches trying my best to wrap my head around this great event. I’ve felt guilty when I didn’t feel my response to the suffering of Jesus was appropriate; when I could not reach that place emotionally that I thought I should be able to go. Can that really be the way the Almighty God wants the children of heaven to behave today? I don’t think so. Jesus did what he did so we can have access to the God of the Universe. I prefer to spend my day relishing the relationship Jesus made possible, and walking in the freedom afforded to me through this beautiful act of love.