Lent is underway. For Christians everywhere it is a time to seek forgiveness, repent, and renew faith in the Lord’s mercy. It is a time to recognize and honor Christ’s sacrifice. It is a time to grow closer to God.
At the age of 38 I have finally been able to wrap my mind around the depth of Christ’s sacrifice. I have recently finished reading the Old Testament from beginning to end. I now understand that in the old Law sacrifice’s were made vicariously. Simply put, the ‘sinner’ would bring an unblemished animal (i.e., lamb, bird, etc.), depending upon the nature of the sin, to the priest. The sinner would confess his sins to the priest, the priest would then take the ‘clean’ animal and sacrifice its life on the altar to atone for the sins of the human. God’s chosen people, Israel, learned this from the clan of Levi, God’s chosen priests.
In the miracle that defines and embodies Christianity for the past 2000 years, the Passion of Jesus Christ, Jesus himself was the priest AND the sacrifice. There was no animal to offer as a vicarious sacrifice for sins. He sacrificed His life to take away the sins of all people for all time. I get it now. That is why Lent is such a great time in the cyclical calendar of the church. Understanding the ultimate sacrifice that Jesus committed makes it so much easier to give up an indulgence or two and it makes it easier to help others who are in need.
For me, it is important that I grow closer to God through reflection and sacrifice during this beautiful time. In Matthew, Jesus tells us when we share our talents and blessings with others do it secretly; when we pray, pray in a closed room alone with God; when we fast, do not seek sympathy for the sacrifice. The lesson here is that we are not doing these things to draw attention to ourselves or to pursue popularity from people. We are doing these things to grow closer to God by seeking forgiveness, maintaining strength to repent, and renewing our soul to increase our ever evolving faith.
I am thankful for the sacrifice Christ made for all of us. I believe it is my responsibility to honor that sacrifice the best I can by fully participating in the journey of Lent. After all, whatever I do in this short time of sacrifice will be nothing compared to what a man did for me some 2000 years ago.