We are headed into Lent. What does Lent mean to you? Pete was trying to explain Lent to our 8 year old this morning. I heard words like sacrifice, give up, sins but yet my 8 year old still did not comprehend what in the world her dad was talking about. She was definitely struggling with the concept of Lent. I have to admit, I struggle too. So this morning while I am waiting for her Sunday School class to end, I went to the bible. I was struck by the Agony in the Garden. In the book of Mark 14:32-42, it describes a very sorrowful time in Jesus’ life. These are the phrases that stand out to me:
• “The flesh is weak, yet the spirit is willing.”
• “Watch and pray that you may not undergo the test.”
• “My soul is sorrowful even to death. Remain here and keep watch.”
• “Behold the Son of Man is to be handed over to sinners. See my betrayer is at hand.”
During Lent, we are to reflect on what Jesus did for us – dying on the cross. Lent is a time to remember that our flesh is weak, yet our spirit is willing. Oh this is so the case with me. I cannot begin to tell you how many times I have tried and tried to stop judging people and gossiping. It is so hard. I know that my flesh is weak. I know that I want to change. I know that I can change – baby steps. So during Lent, I like to acknowledge when I make a good choice. I let myself know, “Heh, BEFORE you would have jumped to conclusions at this point. Good job for stopping yourself.” We are all weak. During Lent, try to find a time to congratulate your spirit taking over your flesh!
Be prayerful during Lent that you will not ever undergo the test that Jesus did in the garden. In Luke 22:44 it says, “He was in such agony and he prayed so fervently that his sweat became like drops of blood falling on the ground. “ Now that is agony. Jesus knew that he was about to be put to death. He knew that he would be tortured and assassinated with hatred. He knew it would be painful and relentless. Imagine what that would be like. I cannot even put myself there because it causes such turmoil for me. I still remember the day I went to see the movie “Passion of Christ.” It was painful and chilling. My friend and I walked out in completely silence and darkness that night. Our only words to each other, “I am glad we came together. See you tomorrow.” I drove home in silence, saddened that I had tortured Christ with all my sins. He died for my benefit. He was tortured for my benefit. Each time I sin I cause pain all over again in His flesh. Lent is a time to remember what those sins do to our relationship with Christ. Sin takes us away from Christ. It creates a barrier that is not impossible to break through, but it will take hard work.
“My soul is sorrowful even to death. Remain here and keep watch.” After watching Jesus suffer pain and sorrow, the disciples fall asleep and lose sight of watching out for Jesus’ enemy. I can only relate this to my own life. I do my best to educate my kids and give them the morals I think they need to overcome barriers in their own lives. I try to equip my kids with what life might deal them. Even with this being done, my kids will make bad choices. I know this because I did the same thing. Jesus did this for His disciples. He taught them all He could. He encouraged them to follow His commands. Yet the disciples still made bad choices. As they fell asleep that night (because of physical exhaustion and probably mental exhaustion), they showed Jesus that even with the greatest teacher of all, they still will make bad choices. It doesn’t mean they don’t love Jesus immensely. It just means they are human. When Jesus dies on the cross for us, He gives us the reconciliation that we need to repair those bad choices. During Lent, I like to confess to Jesus all those bad choices that I have made and begin to reconcile them so that I can break down that barrier between Jesus and me.
“Behold the Son of Man is to be handed over to sinners. See my betrayer is at hand.” The hardest part of the entire Garden scenario for me is Judas’ betrayal. I can empathize with Judas completely. I have been Judas. Who hasn’t been caught up in money, notoriety and popularity before? Judas took it even one step farther as he led the chief priests, temple guards and elders to Jesus. He sealed it with a kiss to Jesus. Judas had allowed his sinfulness to become such a barrier between Jesus and himself that it was irreconcilable. I personally know people who have lost all hope in Christ. The despair and anger that they feel created an enormous barrier that seemed indestructible. My guess is that Judas came to the realization of what he had done shortly after Jesus was taken and tortured; a mistake that would lead to death. He felt there was hope that Jesus would offer him forgiveness. He probably wasn’t listening to Jesus’ message because if he was he would know that Jesus offers forgiveness to all. Judas had been building up sin after sin after sin and never realized that Jesus was dying for Him. Unfortunately despair and hopelessness leads to death. As we know Judas took his own life. During Lent, I will make a point to thank Jesus for hope. The gift of hope and Jesus’ grace has given me new life. If it wasn’t for Jesus’ death on the cross, I would be in a state of despair. My bad choices would have built an indestructible barrier. Because of the death of Jesus, I have a chance to be cleansed and forgiven.
So what does all this mean for me during Lent? It means that I have a lot to be thankful for in my life. Lent reminds me of all that Jesus did for me. Jesus was the ultimate sacrifice. His life was given, so that so many of us could live forever. The definition of sacrifice is an act of offering to a deity something precious; especially : the killing of a victim on an altar. That by definition is Jesus’ death on the cross.
Lent is a time to remember that Jesus’ life was precious. He came to teach us how to live our lives here on earth. He came to show us the love that God has for each and every one of us: the
rich, the lowly, the meek, the strong, the weary, the rested. He loves all of us.
So back to my 8 year old who had difficulty understanding Lent. No wonder she couldn’t get it!! Lent has so much sorrow to it, yet it offers us all such great hope. So as I go back to talk with her, it comes to me exactly what to say.
“Remember how you lost that beautiful ring that you adored? Are you sad about it?”
(she answers yes)
“Do you feel like there is just no hope that we will ever be able to replace it?”
(she answers no, I know we can replace it).
“So you have hope, but you are sad?”
“Well, that is Lent. We have hope, but we are sad. We are prepared to lose someone we love so much, yet we know He will return. He may even return bigger and better than we imagined. Doesn’t that sound nice?”
It sure does to me.