by Rafael E. Lara, Worship Ministries Coordinator
“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” - Romans 6:23
“…who gave himself for our sins to rescue us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father,…” - Galatians 1:4
“He himself bore our sins” in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; “by his wounds you have been healed.” - 1 Peter 2:24
““Even now,” declares the Lord, “return to me with all your heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning.” Rend your heart and not your garments. Return to the Lord your God, for he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and he relents from sending calamity.” - Joel 2:12-13
One of the most vivid depictions that I have seen of what the scriptures tell us that Jesus endured is shown in Mel Gibson’s film, The Passion of the Christ. Watching it a the theater I knew how the story went and knew how it ended. There is a difference, however, with reading something and seeing what it possibly was like.
He was flogged with whips to the point of exposing flesh. He was beaten to the point of nearly being unrecognizable. The crown of thorns they placed probably had 2-inch thorns that slowly and painfully pierced the skin on his head as they pushed it further and further onto his scalp. He was embarrassed; having to traverse the ‘Via Dolorosa’ with a cross on his shoulder as they mocked him and spit on him. His hands and feet were nailed to the cross as he was hoisted up. They pierced his side and they waited.
The truth is that it should have been you and me. I know that might seem like a cliche phrase that you’ve heard have-a-thousand times, but it’s the reality… that the sins of humanity… that our sin… that your sin… that my sin were the reason he died. That is what our contribution in this story was. But that’s not how the entire story goes.
Our penalty for our sin was death. But Christ gave himself freely, bearing our sins on the cross, so that we might have life.
“‘Even now’ declares the Lord, ‘return to me with all your heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning.’
Rend your heart… Return to the Lord your God, for he is gracious and compassionate,”
In the coming weeks, we will journey together, as a community, preparing our hearts. It’s a time of prayer, repentance and fasting.
Lent is about preparing ourselves to receive that which He gave to us… His Son. God gave himself, for you… for me. He sacrificed his very life so that you and I could live.
As we begin this journey, what is the Lord asking you to give? It isn’t about not having, it’s about willingly surrendering yourself to Him to receive something better in return.
… and we wait…