And so …
Lent was not part of my Baptist upbringing. I remember hearing comments about it from some of my friends at school, but I never paid any attention to them.
As I got into my teen years, I learned a little more. You gave up something, like chocolate, for 40 days. I could never figure out why chocolate would have anything to do with the days leading up to Easter … unless it had something to do with those one-pound solid chocolate bunnies we always got in our Easter baskets. Could that be it? No chocolate, no chocolate, no chocolate. BOOM! Chocolate!
So when this month’s theme came up, I asked the Lord to teach me what Lent was all about. What is it about giving something up for 40 days? Sacrificing something.
And what is real sacrifice anyway?
That’s the question I was pondering when I had lunch with a good friend. She mentioned that her Bible Study group was learning about Jewish feasts and festivals. Passover is the next one.
“Did you know,” she said, “that in the Old Testament, when the Israelites were preparing to celebrate Passover, they chose the unblemished lamb five days before it was slaughtered? They brought it into the house to live with them.”
Then she calmly went on to take another bite of salad while I sat there stunned.
They brought the lamb into the house? Where the adults would trip over it? Where the children would play with it and then fall in love with it? This lamb that would be slaughtered five days later would break the children’s hearts.
In that split second I began to understand what true sacrifice meant.
So now, not only was I researching Lent, I was researching Passover.
Sure enough. The lamb was chosen five days prior to Passover, on Lamb Selection Day. It was brought into the house for those five days so that it could be inspected and proved to be unblemished. And then, slaughtered at twilight five days later.
To my astonishment, I learned that Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey on Lamb Selection Day. Five days later he was crucified, on the day that the Passover lambs were being slaughtered. Our Sacrifice Lamb.
So, what is real sacrifice?
It’s what broke the children’s hearts to have their pet slaughtered. It’s what tore Mary’s heart to see her son beaten and crucified. It’s what God the Father and Jesus the Son were willing to go through for the salvation of all mankind. For my salvation.
Lent … sacrifice … Passover … sacrifice … My brain was making the connections. And it being MY brain, needed this all to boil down to the lowest common denominator.
I understand that there are many components to Lent, but for me it all comes down to one thing: Remembering the Sacrifice.
Now I know that those who choose to give up something for Lent do so to remind themselves, every time they find themselves reaching for the thing they’ve given up, that Jesus made the ultimate sacrifice.
I don’t know that I’ll start observing Lent now, but on this journey God has brought me to a fresh understanding. And all through the eyes of a child and a pet lamb.
|Image by Thomas B. from Pixabay|