The word “Lent” is an Old English word that means “lengthen.” It’s a word that was originally used to describe spring – the time of year when the days are getting longer. In religious circles, the word “Lent” is given to something different about springtime. It’s when we are marinating in the last hours of Jesus’ life. We’re thinking about his emotions, his love, his determination, his suffering and his death.
Today is Ash Wednesday. That’s the first day of of the season of Lent. Is that a good thing or a bad thing? Are we full of gloom, or joy?
Well, at first glance, Lent sure seems gloomy. It starts with Ash Wednesday for a reason. We’ve all sinned. That means ashes will be part of our future. Nobody lives on earth eternally. Along the way, as we are pondering our own ashes, we’re going to watch Jesus shed innocent blood. Who wants to review the details of your good friend’s tragic death? Who wants to admit that his pain was your fault? Yet the Bible pulls no punches, as it says, “For our offenses are many in your sight, and our sins testify against us. Our offenses are ever with us, and we acknowledge our iniquities (Isaiah 59:12).”
We have no choice. We must own our many offenses. Our sins witness that we’ve been hostile to God. Our iniquities (that’s a word that describes intentional, daring, not-sorry-for-it sin) must be acknowledged. No more blame game! No more minimizing! No more casual approach! Because there’s only one reason our good friend Jesus shed innocent blood. It’s because of us.
Lent is going to be rough!
Rough, that is, until you realize the rest of the story. You see, for Jesus, death wasn’t the end. He wasn’t dead very long before he resurrected! He assured us that we also will live, even though we die! We will continue on in glory, even after our body has turned to ashes!
But there’s still more. Jesus descended to hell to announce his victory to Satan’s face. He powerfully ascended back into heaven, and he has sat down on his unmatched throne of glory! And he has commissioned all who believe in him to go and teach all nations about his finished work!
Admit the depth of your sins…and also the depth of your Savior’s total victory. And as you marinate in all of that…Lent is going to be very uplifting!
Prayer: Heavenly Father, since the very beginning, Satan has been directing human eyes away from you and your Word, and instead toward his lies and accusations. But now, during this season of Lent, fix my eyes on your one and only Son, Jesus Christ. It was his joy to endure the cross for my sake. He rose from the dead in complete victory! He destroyed the work of the devil! He is not ashamed to call us his brothers and sisters. So, let me always see Jesus – the strength of my heart, the joy of my life, and the hope of my salvation. In his holy name I pray, Amen.