Today is Good Friday, the day Christ died for our sins. It's the most somber day in the Christian liturgical calendar, and an important step before the joy of Easter morning. It doesn't lend itself well to chocolate or pretty lights or brightly-colored eggs delivered by mythical figures, but it isn't a day we can afford to skip over.
We tend to forget about it in the LDS Church, running straight from the wondrous atonement begun in Gethsemane, past the scourging and the trials and the cross and all the painful bits, and straight to the glory of resurrection morning. But the cross stands in the way. Jesus, in speaking to the Nephites, defined His gospel in terms of the cross, "this is the gospel which I have given unto you—that I came into the world to do the will of my Father... And my Father sent me that I might be lifted up upon the cross; and after that I had been lifted up upon the cross, that I might draw all men unto me" (3 Nephi 27:13-14).
As I have meditated on Christ's journey this week, I have been filled with an overwhelming sense of how great the price of our redemption was, of how much love it took to complete His infinite atonement. I have been struck with a profound sense of gratitude and awe that the sinless Son of God would care for me enough to suffer to greatly--and not just to suffer, but also to die for me. He endured the agony in the garden, when the weight of the aggregate incompleteness of fallen man was imposed upon him. He was betrayed by one He loved and abandoned by all others, mocked, spit upon, and tried by the men He had created. He was scourged at the pillar, crowned with thorns, and forced to carry His own cross. Finally, as the culmination of his suffering, He was nailed to Calvary's cruel cross to die. With His last breaths, He forgave those responsible for His agony. He was abandoned even by His Father, and His last prayers went unanswered. His suffering is greater than any that I could experience. It is great enough to demand my reverence, my love, and my complete and unreserved devotion.
I think of my own sufferings, of how they pale by comparison. When I feel like my trials are too much to bear, that the pain is too great, the loneliness too intense, I imagine myself standing before my Savior, showing Him the paper cuts and scratches on my hands and feet where the thorns and branches along my life's road have grazed my skin. And I imagine Him looking at my wounds with love, and showing me His own. And as I look, I find that the contrast is too great for words--the holes in His hands beside the callusses on mine, the thorns in His brow beside the sweat on mine, the stripes on His back beside the knapsack on mine. And in this dream, as I fall at His feet to worship Him, and see the marks of the nails even there, I finally understand that my Lord walked a more painful road than I had imagined, that He really has borne my griefs and carried my sorrows, that the punishment that brings me peace was laid upon Him. I weep to see that I have caused Him so much pain, to know that He was willing to bear it because of His love for me. And in that transcendent, infinite, sacrificial love, my pain is turned into joy, my grief into love, my confusion into understanding, my forgetfulness into awe.
Truly, it is wonderful that He should care for me enough to die for me. Oh, it is wonderful, wonderful to me!