The True Meaning of Lent
Next week marks the beginning of Lent; we call it Ash Wednesday. Funny how Protestants (non-Catholics) are slowly re-learning the value of this season that has for so long been neglected. Irenaus, a first century Church Father, wrote of a time designated for self-examination, repentance, and reflection on the inner man: we call it Lent. I need this season because I want to remember who I was without Christ but also, who I am with Him and in Him.
The ashes of Ash Wednesday, are applied to the forehead as a reminder:
By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” (Genesis 3:19 ESV)
All through the Bible people mourned over their sin or the sin of their people in sackcloth (very rough material) and ashes. This type of repentance is sadly missing from today’s Western Christianity but I believe that God is restoring and reviving His Church with this truth as a springboard. Relationship with God begins with recognizing that He is the supreme authority over all creation: heaven, earth, and the underworld.
When I look at the night sky and see the work of your fingers— the moon and the stars you set in place— what are mere mortals that you should think about them, human beings that you should care for them? (Psalms 8:3-4 NLT)
What a humbling scripture. It causes me to reflect on His greatness and my smallness. It reminds me that life is all about Him: His love, His mercy, His grace. Lent gives me an opportunity to remember that I’m a sinner in need of a Savior. I was destined for hell but He chose to rescue me, I wasn’t able pay the required price for release from my sin nature but He was; He, alone, is able.
Each year as I reflect on the meaning of Lent I enter into a season of humility, yes, but also a time of anticipation that one day He will appear a second time and I’ll experience the second part of that Psalm.
Yet you made them only a little lower than God and crowned them with glory and honor. You gave them charge of everything you made, putting all things under their authority— (Psalms 8:5, 6 NLT)
For the next few weeks (Lent is 40 days) I want to delve a little deeper into the purpose of Christ on this earth but also under the earth. We must never forget, especially during Lent, that Jesus spent three days and three nights in the heart of the earth (Matt. 12:40) fulfilling His assignment and proving His authority. Let’s get prepared for the pinnacle day of Christianity: Resurrection Sunday. May this year’s celebration be one of revelation and thanksgiving as we remember all that He accomplished for our benefit.