And with those words we begin the season of Lent: Forty days of preparation before Easter. It begins with this passage in Luke and its accompanying challenge. Jesus is speaking to the holy ones of his day, the righteous, the religious. He is speaking to those who were proud of their faith, even to a point of fault. He was addressing those who thought much of themselves and very little of others. In their own minds they were the superior, they were the faithful, they were the chosen.
Two thousand years ago Jesus challenged these keepers of the law. His challenge continues to this day. Jesus’ words to the righteous do not question actions, they assesses attitude. They scrutinize motive. They evaluate sincerity of faith. Jesus told this parable with the sole intent of confronting the listener with the truth of their intent. Jesus calls those who hear to assess their hearts. He calls us to live honestly. He asks us to live humbly. Is there a better way to begin the season of Lent?
Throughout the history of the Christian Church, followers of Christ have used the 40 weekdays leading up to Easter as a time of focus, sacrifice, and renewal. These days have provided the faithful an opportunity to evaluate the depth of their faith and to re-commit themselves to the journey to the cross.
For some, this has included fasting and prayer. As a child, I remember giving up chocolate or candy. In college, I gave up cola. But the sacrifice is meaningless if it doesn’t come from a place of truth and humility.
I invite you along on the Journey of Lent. Join me in a walk through Biblical passages that take us to the cross…and past it to the empty tomb! Along the way, we will encounter people who are touched by Jesus. Some experience healing, some realize cleansing, others find forgiveness. All are changed. Forever.
The journey has the power to change us as well. But Jesus cautions us; before we begin the journey we must be willing to be honest with ourselves and with God. He challenges us to lay down our pride and pick up our cross. He calls us to honesty and humility. He reminds us that no one is righteous. No one has the right to look down on anyone else. Instead, we are called to look to Jesus and follow him to the cross and beyond.
You see us for who we are. You know our hearts and yet you continue to invite us to follow you. Forgive us for our self-importance. Forgive us for our pride. Humble us before your amazing sacrifice.
We bow our hearts, our minds, and our bodies before you. Our lives are yours. In this season of Lent, we seek to follow you to the foot of the cross and beyond. AMEN.
copyright 2005 C. Curtis Austin a 2BlackDog Production