The death and resurrection of Jesus Christ are at the very heart of Christianity. The good news of the gospel is that God has acted in history to conquer evil and reconcile sinners to himself through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. For those who have been united with this Jesus – who have submitted to Him as savior and Lord – have been united with Him in the likeness of His death and will one day be united with Him in the likeness of His resurrection (Rom. 6:5). Lent, therefore, is about living out of our union with, and identity in, Christ. Lent is first and foremost about the gospel making its way deeper into our lives.
On the Christian calendar, Lent (from Latin, meaning “fortieth”) is the forty days beginning on Ash Wednesday and leading up to Easter Sunday. Sundays themselves are not counted in these forty days, as they are generally set aside as days of renewal and celebration (“mini-Easters” of sorts).
The number forty carries great biblical significance based on: the forty days of rain Noah and his family endured in the flood, the forty years Israel spent in the wilderness, Jesus’ forty-day fast in the wilderness, the forty days Jesus spent on the earth after his resurrection, and so much more. Forty days has been used by God to represent a period of trial, testing, and preparation.
Likewise, Lent is a season of preparation and repentance during which we anticipate the death (Good Friday) and resurrection (Easter Sunday) of Jesus. It is this very preparation and repentance – aimed at grasping the intense significance of the crucifixion – that gives us a deep and powerful longing for the resurrection, the joy of Easter.
As the title of this devotional suggests, Lent is a journey to the cross: meditating on our sin and weakness, looking to Jesus as our perfect example and substitute, and being heightened in our worship of his victory over Satan, sin, and death. On the cross, Jesus took our place to appease God’s righteous anger toward our sin and rebellion. He was separated from God so that we could experience union with God. He was crushed by God so that we could be adopted by God. He was raised with God so that we too might be raised with God. The drama of how this unfolded is the story of Lent.
The journey of Lent is to immerse ourselves in this grand story so that it might increase our appreciation of Easter and love for Jesus. May we mourn the darkness in our hearts and rejoice in the light of God who came into the world to save us!
*Used by permission.
Journey to the Cross: Readings & Devotions for Lent © 2013 by Providence Church.