Today is good Friday.
Two days before Easter Sunday.
Today is marked by many different people and many different religions as many different things.
To some, today is "Earth Day"- a day to celebrate the world around us.
To some, it's a precursor to baskets of candy.
To others, it's a completely normal day, void of any meaning.
To me, today is a day of sadness.
Today is the day I reflect on on the sacrifice that Christ made for me.
The sacrifice of undergoing the most excruciating and agonizing forms of torture followed by an unthinkably painful death, intermixed with the emotional pain of mockery, scorn, and false accusations, as well as the greatest burden and suffering of spirit.
Let me tell you a story.
A prince, born of a virgin young woman, is born- leaving the perfection and paradise that is heaven- to our world.
He grows up, wise beyond all belief, and teaches hundreds of thousands about God, His love, and His commands, all the while healing hundreds of ill people and committing many miracles besides.
This prince never sins in his entire life- never lies, never cheats, never even so much as takes a toy away from his brother or talks back to his mother. Even when tempted directly by Satan, he stands firm.
This prince lives in lowliness, traveling by foot and going for days without food.
This prince angers the high-and-mighties, who plot to kill him.
The prince tells his closest followers that he is going to be brutally killed, but will be raised from death back to life, after lying completely deceased in a grave for three days.
This prince is betrayed by one of his own followers, is handed over to the officials by the kiss of an angry friend.
This prince is found guilty for absolutely nothing, is tortured, beaten, mocked, and delivered up onto a hill to be literally hung by three nails onto a cross, in between two murderers.
This prince, this spotless lamb, free from all guilt, takes onto his shoulders all of the sins ever committed and all the sins yet to be committed onto his shoulders.
So great and horrific is it, that his father and King in heaven- the creator of the world- turns His face away and refuses to look.
The prince dies.
The prince is buried.
The prince's grave is guarded by officers, when the officials fear that his small band of faithful followers will steal his body and say he has resurrected.
Seventy-two hours after his hour of death, the Prince wakes from what should be the eternal sleep of death.
The Prince strides from the grave, leaving an angel to tell the good news to the two women who, in mourning, are coming to dress his body with herbs.
This Prince has conquered the unconquerable- life, pain, death, and sin-and has emerged triumphant from the clutches of Hell and Death.
This prince is seen by many people, as he teaches some few last lessons, and is witnessed by his faithful disciples as he ascends into heaven to be united with the King of Kings, His father.
This Prince is Jesus Christ.
And he lives still today, sitting on the right hand of God.
Jesus Christ, through His death and resurrection, has made it possible for all mankind to repent of their sins, ask Him for forgiveness, and to be eternally free from the stains of our past, and to blot out the transgressions we shall make in the future. He has offered to make a home for us in Heaven, saving us from the fiery and torturous depths of Hell.
You need only turn to Him.
"If you confess your sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleans us from all unrighteousness."
Today is not Earth Day.
Today is not a normal day.
Today is the day I remember the God who created our earth.
Today is the day I remember the man who, out of pure love and unselfish mercy, bore all of the suffering I deserve for each of my sin, and how He conquered death, making it possible for me to be eternally clean.
He has raised my heart and soul from the dead state of sin, to the living state of faith and forgiveness in Him.
That is what this weekend is about.
So next time you think about Easter, I hope the image that comes to mind is a little less this...
...And a little more this.