Today for Ash Wednesday, Nathaniel Hurd, a World Vision policy adviser in Washington, D.C., writes about how the traditional Lenten sacrifices of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving can help the people of Syria.
One of the most remarkable sentences in all of Scripture comes from the thief who was hanging next to Jesus on the cross. Jesus was just hours from death, and, by all appearances, had failed in his Messianic role.
Just days before, Jesus had entered Jerusalem, hailed as a king with shouts of “Hosanna!” But then, Jesus was betrayed, tried, beaten, and nailed to the cross. In the eyes of the disciples and all of his followers, it was all over.
I always enjoy Easter for its atmosphere of wonderful, joyous celebration.
While Christmas might be described as special, Easter is triumphant. We celebrate the astounding miracle of a man, the Son of God, risen from the grave. But like a parade after any victory, Easter’s celebration is more than the festivity following an unexpected triumph.
We also celebrate what Jesus’ victory over death has freed us to do: to work for the kingdom of God.
Visualize this: It’s 2,000 years ago in Jerusalem. A crowd of Roman soldiers and community members gather around three crosses. You see Jesus, bloodied to a pulp, crucified. You smell impending death and hear a mixture of cheers, jeers, and sobbing.
All you want to do is run away so you can curl up in your own bed, desperate for any ounce of comfort and familiarity. But you don’t. Paralyzed, you stand and stare and hear and smell and feel.