11 Feb A Celebration of Lent
For the next several weeks, we will be posting weekly with a reading guide to prepare our hearts for Easter and remember the radical and costly grace of God displayed in the gospel of Jesus. Each post will be coupled with art from local artist Kathryn Schermbeck. We hope these words and pieces of art will set your hearts on Jesus and lead you to worship our great God, who made a way for us to be reconciled to him.
In the beginning, God spoke and formed the world, bringing order out of chaos and making beautiful things. Vegetation sprung up out of the earth, the seas were separated from the expanse of the sky, and two were formed who would bear and reflect God himself – the holy, loving, matchless creator. These two, Adam and Eve, knew and communed with and loved their maker. They walked with him. They were accountable to him.
In the garden they lived in, God told them they were free to eat of every tree, except one. Eating of the one tree, he explained, would bring forth death. But they knowingly rebelled, mistrusting the care of their God and rejecting his one command – trusting instead the words of a serpent. And just as God said, their rebellion brought forth death. The earth was cursed, and Adam and Eve were separated from the union they once enjoyed with God. Their offspring too felt the weight of the curse, and were born into the sinful nature of their forerunners. The just judge and holy God was grieved, yet could not let the sin of rebels go unpunished.
But God, in his foreknowledge and love, always had a redemptive plan in store for humanity, and it was his joy to gloriously set it into motion.
Immediately after he cursed the earth, he offered a glimpse of his plan. He declared that the offspring of Eve would bruise the head of the serpent. And then he made garments for Adam and Eve, clothing them with his love and covering their shame. This was a sign of what he would do. God would send forth a Messiah, a redeemer, a savior. One who would crush the enemy, defeat death, triumph over sin, and make a way for rebellious humans to be reconciled to God forever. One who would cover the guilt and shame of humanity.
God sent his Son, Jesus, to become a man and live a guiltless, perfect life. He would simultaneously be a conquering King and a humble carpenter, son of God and son of Man. Jesus willingly and joyfully took the punishment and death we rightly deserved for our sins against a holy God. As a suffering servant, crucified at the cross, he was despised and rejected, mocked as he carried our sins and shame. He was buried, and then he resurrected in power from the dead, demonstrating his authority over sin and the curse of death. In a beautiful exchange, he paid the debt of our sins while offering all who repent and believe in him his righteous record – and thus reconciliation to his Father and eternal life with him forever.
Much like how these garments were a picture of the salvation to come in Jesus, the Old Testament is filled with prophecies, promises and pictures that would ultimately point to Christ. As Jesus entered darkness of the world, the glimpses and shadows were fulfilled.
Take some time this week to remember God’s faithfulness to his covenant. Gaze upon Jesus. He is promised one, the fountain opened to cleanse us from sin and uncleanness, the one cursed on a tree in our place, the high priest who made the final sacrifice with his own blood. He is the worthy lamb, slain for us.
Readings for this week:
Zechariah 9:9-10, 13:1 and Matthew 21:1-10
Deuteronomy 21:22-23, Galatians 3:13-14, 1 Peter 2:24
Leviticus 17:11 and Hebrews 9:11-26