The Heart of Lent: A time to be joyful.

I have a Friend who makes people uncomfortable. He speaks life and truth, although most people find it embarrassing. He serves tirelessly and loves endlessly yet is still laughed at. He is gentle and kind but is treated harshly.

He was so disliked that, when it came time for Him to be sentenced for crimes He did not commit, the jury made sure He was punished in the most torcherous of ways. Flogged, whipped, kicked, spit on, and stripped of all clothing. After the crowd grew bored of watching Him suffer, they finally drove 4 inch nails deep into His hands and feet – holding Him on an upright piece of splintered wood until death consumed Him.

Yes, my friend is Jesus.

Crucifixion is not something we are accustomed to and I don’t think we are capable of fully understanding its cruelty. But Jesus knew exactly what was ahead of Him. He foretold His death and resurrection.

…Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, the chief priests and the teacher of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life. Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. “Never, Lord!” he said, “This shall never happen to you!” – Matthew 16:21-22

I have to imagine that if I were Peter, I would have responded in the exact same way. After following, learning from, and observing Jesus in action – the idea of Him being killed would have been heartbreaking. And the concept of Him returning from the dead? Impossible.

Jesus’ prediction defies everything we know about the permanence of death, which is why His friends mourned and buried Him. They believed His story was finished. But the crucifixion of Christ was not a horrible ending. It was a wonderful beginning.

While in the grave, separated from the Father, Jesus battled against hell for 3 long days but He came out victorious. And after revealing Himself to the people He loved, He returned to His rightful place in heaven.

As we wrap up this series on the The Heart of Lent let’s remember:

  • The Passover: A time to understand God’s love and to celebrate Jesus who is the ultimate sacrificial Lamb.
  • The Repentant: A time to examine our own sin. To recognize it. To confess it. To apologize for it.
  • The Crucifixion: A time to reflect on what Jesus did on the cross. His willingness. His suffering.
  • The Resurrection: A time to be joyful. Our hope is in heaven!

It is our prayer that, as you celebrated Easter, your heart was bursting with happiness. But the resurrection is not meant to be recognized only once a year. It is something we should honor each and every day! Jesus is not dead. He is very much alive and He is at work in our hearts today.

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die.” – John 11:25-26a

———

Lord,

Thank You for Your sacrifice, forgiveness, faithfulness, and for the joy we find in You. You did the unthinkable and You did it willingly. We don’t deserve heaven and we certainly haven’t earned it, yet You’ve still prepared a place for us there. A forever home in the very presence of God. Help us to love as You love. Use us to bring the Gospel, Your good news, to reach the people around us. We love you, Jesus.

– Amen

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