By Pastor Mark Jeske
When God wanted to show intentionality, i.e., that the things which were happening did not come about by accident but by divine plan and power, he often chose the number 40.
In Scripture, when something took 40 days or 40 years, it wasn’t a coincidence: God was up to something. Likewise when Christians long ago decided to set aside a time of preparation before Easter, it seemed like the perfect choice to use God’s special number and set aside that many days for a season of repentance and prayer. Only the weekdays are counted in the solemn 40; Sundays are still thought of as feast days. We call the season Lent.
Repentance is always a good mind-set and posture for Christians, but never more so than in the run-up to the commemoration of the awe-full day of the crucifixion of Christ. His savage torment and death made the payment for our sins and moral failures. It is appropriate for us to reflect on our own unworthiness, so that the beauty of his free gift of forgiveness will shine more gloriously.
Abraham’s humility before God is our Lenten model: “I am nothing but dust and ashes” (Genesis 18:27). Whether you wear Lenten ashes metaphorically or actually apply them to your forehead, the spirit of this day is one of sober reflection of the terrible cost of human rebellion against God.
Only Jesus can lift you from the dust and ashes of your own making.