Scriptures: Genesis 15. 1-12,17-18; Psalm 27; Philippians 3.17-4.1; Luke 13.31-35.
Gen 15 tells of God’s covenant with Abram (later Abraham) to provide a homeland and innumerable descendants. In Ps 27 the psalmist expresses great faith in the LORD and the desire to live in His presence. Phil 3 says some reject the cross of Christ and will perish, but the Lord will transform believers’ bodies to be like His. Lk 13 tells of the evil opposing Jesus and His sorrow at the fate awaiting Jerusalem.
The Easter-Ascension Mystery
After Adam’s fall and alienation from God, God makes a covenant promise to restore mankind through Abram’s descendants pointing to Christ. Ps 27 is ultimately fulfilled in that man can live forever in God’s presence. Phil 3 refers to the cross as the means whereby man can receive eternal life. Lk 13 speaks of Jesus’ sorrow over the pending destruction of Jerusalem, a prophecy to be fulfilled in 70 AD. The theme of this season is Life as exemplified by Jesus’ resurrection and ascension which is promised to all believers on the basis of faith in Christ as Lord. These miraculous but historical events validate all Jesus’ teachings and that He is the Christ. The word ‘Lent’ refers to the lengthening days of spring and is a penitential season of preparation for Easter, commemorating the Lord’s resurrection and the culmination of the Ascension. Since before the coming of Christ man has wandered figuratively and spiritually in the wilderness and exile analogous to the individual before the conversion of saving faith. Jesus called man to repent, that is change the direction in which he is heading from the self-reliant secular programs for happiness constructed before knowing Christ, to the faith-based trust and dependence on Christ. The former are illusory and lead to misery. Faith is the ‘pearl of great price” conferred by the Holy Spirit that enables man to find peace in a world fraught with evil through faith and communion with the Lord who dwells in him as the Kingdom of God. This inner life of the Spirit brings wisdom, assurance, ultimate security, love, joy, and eternal life. He receives power to overcome Satan’s deceptions and temptations. Led by the Spirit, he knows that his goal is his relationship with the Lord made possible by the Sprit and that even the trials he faces bring him closer to his goal. It is through suffering that he dies to his false self and is enabled to rest in God and dwell in God. Like Paul he is able to “count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord… and to count them as rubbish that I may gain Christ” (Phill 3.8). Like Jesus we may weep over the evil in the world and the destruction that takes place, but as the psalmist says, “The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear?” (Ps 27.1). We have many means of grace at our disposal as we reflect on our spiritual journey to Christ, but one which we should cultivate is true spiritual community among fellow Christians. There is amazing grace in the fellowship of small groups of brothers and sisters in Christ who gather to share their faith and brokenness and encourage one another on their spiritual journey. They are disciples and Christ is their Discipler who loves them and promised never to leave them nor forsake them (Josh.1.5; Mt 28.20). Lent is a time to prepare ourselves to receive the Lord fully.
Memory Verse: And [Jesus] saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the Kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel” (Mark 1.15).