Tomorrow some Christians will be seen with a grey cross of ashes applied to their foreheads – this symbolic act begins a forty day period during which they remember their sinfulness, repent, ask God’s forgiveness, and recognize that God’s forgiveness comes at an infinite price — the death of Christ on the cross on our behalf. This 40 day period is called: Lent. Most pentecostal denominations & fellowships do not practice this ritual. Yet, I cannot help but find a personal challenge in these events. Seems like in most of our modern churches we spend more time preparing for some extravagant (and cheesy) musical production, complete with 12 men wearing fake beards and bathrobes, then we do truly meditating on what Easter truly means.
So, on “Ash Wednesday” let’s examine our hearts. I think you’ll discover – like me – that you are a sinner in need of a savior, and your salvation comes at the sacrifice of God’s Son: “So Christ has now become the High Priest over all the good things that have come. He has entered that great, perfect sanctuary in heaven, not made by human hands and not part of this created world. 12 Once for all time he took blood into that Most Holy Place, but not the blood of goats and calves. He took his own blood, and with it he secured our salvation forever” (Heb. 9:11-12).
Perhaps, we could also find and apply meaning to this period known by many as Lent: This time of repentance is calculated to extend from Resurrection Sunday (Easter) back for forty days, not including Sundays. Sundays are not included because they commemorate Christ’s glorious resurrection. The forty days commemorate the significant “forty” periods in Scripture (although forty is not always significant), including the forty years the Jews wandered in the desert after they had been rescued by God from Egypt, and which did not end until they repented. Jonah preached to Nineveh that God’s judgment would come on them in forty days. During that time the people repented and thus were spared God’s judgment. Jesus was tested by the Devil in the desert for forty days before He began His public ministry, announcing salvation to the repentant and judgment to those who continued to rebel against God. Jesus prophesied that God’s judgment would come against Israel for rejecting Him as Messiah within the time of His own generation (Matt. 24; Luke 21; Mark 13). Within forty years of His death, burial, and resurrection, Jerusalem was destroyed and the temple was so ravaged that “not one stone [was] left here upon another” (Matt. 24:2). The Jewish Christians, however, escaped this judgment of God by fleeing to Pella before the final Roman siege, just as Jesus had warned them to do (Matt. 24:16-21).
During Lent Christians are to contemplate their sinfulness, repent, ask God’s forgiveness, and realize the infinite sacrifice God made on their behalf. It is to be a time of quiet contemplation, but not a time of despair, since it culminates in the commemoration of the resurrection. These forty days usually include certain times of fasting – specifically of meat (besides fish), desserts, junk food, etc. as well as certain forms of entertainment such as movies, sporting events, parties, etc.
I’m not calling anyone to observe Ash Wednesday or Lent – my challenge is simply this: Let’s really think about what Christ’s death and resurrection means to us. And during this “season of the Cross” leading up to Easter Sunday, let’s spend personal time repenting, meditating on His Word, praying, fasting, witnessing and worshipping.
ALL about Jesus, Chilly