Cling To The Cross
By: Rev. Jeff Luplow
Running from Ash Wednesday to Easter, most dedicated Christians observe the Lenten Season. To do so, some forego or abstain from certain foods or physical comforts imitating Jesus’ 40-day fasting in the wilderness (Matthew 4:1-2). Maybe such self-deprivation can better help appreciate a hint of our Savior’s experience. Perhaps such “outward” preparations might better help concentrate on the bread of Life” (John 6:25-59) vs. the daily bread of life.
Nevertheless, Lent’s importance revolves around what God has done for us, not on what we do for God. Even if we sincerely believe that what we do brings us closer to God or makes us “righteous” before him, such thinking is sincerely wrong. (Review this Jesus’ teachable moment truth to his disciples recorded in John 6:60-68). The essence of Jesus’ Passion celebrated during Lent focuses on God’s saving love in Jesus, the “Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29).
Isaiah, too, writes: “Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions” (Isaiah 53:4f). Jesus suffered the affects and punishment of our sin in our place. We call this truth “God’s Great Exchange”—Jesus’ holiness to us…our sins to Jesus. Paul confirms, “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:21).
The only way to be righteous with God comes through Jesus—not good works or by how piously we observe Lent. As Peter and John preached in Jerusalem, “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). Jesus himself simply put it on that first Maundy Thursday evening: “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6).
So how can we best prepare” for the upcoming Lenten Season? Some credit Katie Luther, the wife of the great reformer Martin, with the answer: “Ich glaube an meinen Herrn Jesu hangen wie die Klette am Kleide” (translated loosely: “I cling to my Lord Jesus like a burr on a cloth”). Every day we can cling to the Jesus’ cross and sing, “Just as I am, without one plea. But that thy blood was shed for me. And that thou bidd’st me come to thee, O Lamb of God, I come, I come” (Christian Worship 397:1). To Jesus who lived, died and rose triumphantly on Easter to guarantee our victory over sin and its death effect be the glory!