Luke 9.51 marks a decided turning point in Luke’s gospel account. Speaking of Jesus, Luke says, “When the days drew near for him to be taken up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem.” What is amazing about this text is that it first looks beyond the cross to the day of Jesus’ ascension and then notes that Jesus set his face to the cross. The way to the glory of the ascension was through the humility of the cross. As followers of Jesus, we must journey with him through the humility of the cross to the glory coming when He returns to make all things new.
The Lenten season is to be preparation for the celebration of Easter. There is no celebration of the glory of the resurrection without the humility of reflection and repentance. Lent is an invitation to greater, deeper celebration through greater, deeper preparation. The glory of the resurrection will shine all the brighter in the firmament of humble reflection and repentance. The joyful Easter celebration will be fueled by humble Lenten preparation. For greater celebration and deeper joy, consider the following reflection:
It affords a man little good to set his gaze upon the crucified Christ if he does it with no thought of his sin. It is his sin for which the Christ is hanging on that cursed tree. Unaware of his sin, the cross is but folly and foolishness. But knowing himself as a sinner, a gaze upon the cross is both utter horror and complete relief. There, the Lamb of God, slain to take away the sins of the world. There is no greater testimony to the filth and disgust of man’s sin before the holy and righteous Judge of all the earth than that payment for it necessitated the unthinkable–the assuming of flesh by God himself so that he might bear in his body the penalty of our sin that we deserve to bear in ours. And therein that act, is the most incomparable display of God’s love for man that, when aware of his sin, consumes him and renders him a new creation.
The resurrection bells will ring with a glorious resound for those who know well the silence of their own hopeless and helpless estate apart from Christ. May we, desiring greater and deeper joyful celebration, set our face to greater and deeper humble preparation.