"He was wounded for our transgressions
He was bruised for our iniquities (diseases)
The chastisement for our peace was upon Him
By HIS stripes we are healed."
Today is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent for many denominations. Since childhood these 40 days before Easter have been part of my walk with Jesus. As the wife of a Lutheran pastor, Lent has blessed our lives over the years as we reflect on Jesus and His journey to the cross. Lent has a double focus, a focus on repentance and a focus on the cross and all that God has done for us. The cross is an important symbol of Lent. One definition I read said that the cross is a symbol of example, of judgement, of reconciliation and of victory! Amen!
At the very heart of this season is God's love for us. He loves us so much he sent His only son to die on that Lenten cross. Jesus suffered a horrible death with the weight of our sins and our diseases upon him (Isaiah. 53). God loves us that much.
Walking with Jesus brings us through the sufferings to the victory in His life and in ours, too. It is during times of our own suffering that we are able to draw on Jesus' strength with the understanding that He knows what it means to experience pain....His suffering far out weighed any of ours. It is during times of struggle that we are able to hold tightly to the promises that remind us of God's love, forgiveness, and gifts. The most important gift of all comes to us at the end of the Lenten season.
Tonight I will begin my walk through Lent by going to Ash Wednesday services, where my husband will make the mark of the cross on my forehead with ashes as a symbol of repentance ~"ashes to ashes, dust to dust". I will worship and commune, as I reflect on the sacrifice given for me. For you. I will give thanks this night for many reasons: because Jesus died for my sins, because God loves me so much, because repentance comes for me as a sinner, and because for the first time in 10 years I am able to go to Lenten services and worship my Lord without severe consequences to my health. I am healing. Thank you Jesus that you suffered and died on the cross for sin and for disease. Thank you Jesus that victory is ours because you shed your blood for us. Let me never forget the journey you took to the cross for me. For us.
Ann Voskamp is offering a free download for a Lenten Devotional. You can go to her place, A Holy Experience, to learn more and join her online community to walk with Jesus during Lent and throughout the year.