Key Verse: “And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.” (Luke 14:27)
Today is Ash Wednesday. It marks the beginning of a forty-day period (excluding Sundays) called Lent which ends with Easter Sunday.
Around the world, Christians from various denominations will begin days of prayer and fasting. Some will even participate in a ceremony where ashes mixed with oil and applied on their forehead in the shape of a cross. The ash is there to remind us of our own death and that of Christ.
Genesis 3:19 says, “By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return.” Ash Wednesday is there to remind us of our own mortality. That we live in a world that is temporary. It is a reminder to us that we are not as big and powerful as we think and calls us to reprioritize our lives and to focus on eternal things.
Next, there is the daily call to die to self. Jesus said, “And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.” (Luke 14:27) Each day we encounter opportunities to surrender to God’s ways. Our call is to live for him and not for self. We need to train ourselves to see our life in light of eternity, in order to deny our sinful nature daily as we surrender every moment to the work and leadings of the Lord. Galatians 5:24 says, “Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.”
Finally, we are reminded of Christ’s death. God took on flesh. The creator of the universe became man and dwelt among us. “Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive in the Spirit.” (1 Peter 3:18). We are reminded that “having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross.” (Colossians 2:14)
Whether you commemorate Ash Wednesday or not, every day is a good day to remember “He died for everyone so that those who receive his new life will no longer live for themselves. Instead, they will live for Christ, who died and was raised for them.” (2 Corinthians 5:15).