In a few short weeks, the Church will be moving into the Season of Lent. The forty days of Lent begins on Ash Wednesday and ends with Pasion Sunday, which is the beginning of Holy Week.
Lent is traditionally a time for meditation, reflection, and self-examination. It is a time for us to “count the cost for my sins.” For you see it was not the Jewish leadership, it was not the Romans, but it was our sins that put Christ on the cross. Had we not rebelled against God and his Word, there would have been no need for Christ to suffer and die on the cross.
Sadly, the Church is losing the significance of Lent. Church “gurus” tell us that people don’t want to hear about sin, sacrifice, and death. They want to hear a message that is happy and joyful. Don’t “beat me up” by talking about sin, sacrifice, and death. Those things turn people off.
Many churches skip Lent altogether. They go right from Ash Wednesday to Easter. “Don’t weigh me down, don’t burden me with a crown of thorns, nails, and crosses.” “Instead, I want to be told that I am a good person and that if I believe in Jesus, nothing bad will ever happen to me and I will become rich and famous.”
Hmmm... How does one justify that kind of thinking, preaching, and teaching with Jesus’ words, “If anyone would come after me, let him pick up his cross and deny himself and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it”?
The heart of God’s Word is that of “sacrificial love.” A sacrificial love that is displayed when a Father gives up his Son to pay for the sins of all people. A sacrificial love that is displayed when the Son says, “Not my will, but thy will be done.”
Lent is not so much a time for grieving, but a time to reflect and meditate on God’s unfailing, sacrificial love for someone like me. As the old hymn goes, “Amazing grace how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me.”
Lent is a time to understand that I did nothing to receive God’s grace, rather I am a recipient of God’s grace because of the suffering, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
To bypass Lent and go directly to Easter is to fail to understand exactly what it cost God to save us from sin and death.