I thought of just saying “It’s Lent so repent!”. That may be catchy, but sounds rather irreverent. Also, it’s not very helpful. Let’s first review the concept of Lent. It’s a 40-day period (not counting Sundays) leading up to Easter. Although there’s no biblical directive establishing it, ’40 days’ does crop up often in the Bible – with Moses (Deut. 9:18), Elijah (1 Kings 19:8) and Jesus (Mat. 4:2), for instance. In each case it appears to be a time of testing and prayer. Early Christians, from the 2nd century A.D., thought it wise to establish a yearly custom of reflection and repentance leading up to the remembrance of the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus.
It is rather fitting to have this focus on repentance just before we focus on the cross. The cross simultaneously indicts and delivers us. We have little idea of how serious the problem (sin) is, except that God’s drastic solution is to become one of us and die alone in a publicly shameful way in order to forgive and redeem us. Sometimes the old hymns say it best:
“See from his head, his hands, his feet, sorrow and love flow mingled down!
Did e’er such love and sorrow meet, or thorns compose so rich a crown?”
Isaac Watts, ‘When I Survey The Wondrous Cross’
Jesus sorrows deeply for the sins, but keenly and sacrificially loves the sinners.
All of us are notoriously bad at this thing called repentance. Only by grace does it truly happen. The starting point is to humbly ask for God’s help, as the psalmist did when he prayed, “Search me O God, and know my heart, test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” Ps. 139:23, 24 In fact that’s an excellent prayer for each of us in Lent.
The first Sunday in Lent is February 26th. Please join us at Lochlin (joint service with Ingoldsby), Haliburton or online, as we remember the sacrifice of our Lord Jesus Christ by sharing in the Lord’s Supper.
In Christ’s love,