The Latter Rain: Celebrate Lent – Day 3
8 Then shall your light break forth like the dawn, and your healing shall spring up speedily; your righteousness shall go before you; the glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard. 9 Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer; you shall cry, and he will say, ‘Here I am.’ If you take away the yoke from your midst, the pointing of the finger, and speaking wickedness, Isaiah 58:8-9 RSV
Fridays in Lent are a special day. Each Friday we remember the death of our Lord Jesus on the cross. The heart of learning to ‘celebrate’ Lent, instead of just observing it is seen in how we view the cross. Do we see in the cross of Christ, death or life?
Death is easy to see. The way Jesus was killed was a heinous, murderess act. But we must look upon His ultimate, self-giving act of love, not with sorrow only but with joy and gladness. The cross of Christ is the instrument of Love; it was the greatest act of love possible. God could do nothing greater to prove His love to us.
The prophet Isaiah gives us great insight into how to celebrate Lent with joy and gladness. In chapter 58 he speaks convicting words to God’s people for their false worship through fasting without meaning. They fasted for selfish, self-righteous purposes which God condemns. And all the while they complain that God does not hear them…
‘Why have we fasted, and thou seest it not? Why have we humbled ourselves, and thou takest no knowledge of it?’ Behold, in the day of your fast you seek your own pleasure,[a] and oppress all your workers. 4 Behold, you fast only to quarrel and to fight and to hit with wicked fist. Fasting like yours this day will not make your voice to be heard on high.
Isaiah 58:3-4 RSV
Then the Lord God reveals the fast that he accepts…
“Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the thongs of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke? 7 Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover him, and not to hide yourself from your own flesh?
Isaiah 58:6-7 RSV
If we wish to please God with our Lenten sacrifices, we must allow them to move us to action, to life-giving acts of love toward others – that is what Jesus did. He continually acted in love toward all humanity.
When we view the cross of Christ, may we offer our Lenten fasting up to God with joy and gladness in thanksgiving for His breaking the yoke of our sin and setting the captives free. Then, let us go forth and shower the world with the latter rain of God’s love.
“Dear children, let’s not merely say that we love each other; let us show the truth by our actions.”
1 John 3:18 NLT