It's Good Friday, so I'm taking the opportunity that a day off and sleeping in gives to contemplate the biblical account of Christ's crucifixion.
The crucifixion was of course horrible and gut wrenching and, thanks to Mel Gibson and the Passion of the Christ, as well as countless years in church, I have a fairly vivid understanding of Christ's suffering.
Although, the suffering of Christ is important for both our redemption and the fulfillment of prophecy, the part of the Good Friday story that has always got me excited, my brain and my heart, is the tearing of the veil in the temple.
37 Then Jesus uttered another loud cry and dismissed his spirit.38 And the curtain in the Temple was split apart from top to bottom.Mark 15:37-38
Depending on which scholarly type person you ask, the veil of the temple had different dimensions. According to one "expert" it was 15 feet wide by 15 feet long with a linen veil in the time of Moses to 20 feet wide by 60 feet long and 4 inches thick in the Temple of Jesus’ day. I don't know and honestly I don't care. What I do care about is the spiritual significance and symbolism.
The veil was a barrier between common folk and what was referred to as The Holy of Holies. In Moses time, it was where the Ark of the Covenant (Remember Indian Jones?), essentially the fancy box that housed God's Spirit, was housed.
Later, after the Ark was no longer in the possession of the Israelites, the Holy of Holies was considered to be the place where God was. The priests of the Jewish temple only went in there once a year and only after a whole bunch of cleansing rituals on what was called the Day of Atonement . Sometimes they weren't "clean" enough, their sins hadn't been atoned or paid for through cleansing and sacrifice and as a result they would die, fall down dead in the presence of God.
So the veil, kept everyone from God. Without atonement the Holy of Holies was a place of death and judgement. As mentioned in the reference above, when Jesus finally breathed his last the veil was torn. Jesus' death was the atonement, the payment, the redeeming factor that tore the veil. His suffering and death, his sacrifice was what made it possible for the common people, you and me to interact with God.
This is when I get a bit misty. The torn veil means that I don't have to be under judgement, that I don't have to strive and scrub myself clean and go through ritual to come to God. That through the sacrifice of Jesus, I can come to God just as I am all full of mistakes, banged up and dirty. That I can have mercy from my poor decisions, bad choices and ultimately death, grace (favour with God), hope for a fulfilling and blessed life now and an eternal life after death and that I can have a one on one relationship with the God that created the universe.
And that is what makes Good Friday good for me.