Reflections for Lent

Lent: Preparation for Lent – Ash Wednesday

Lent Reflections with Sinclair Ferguson

For the season of Lent this year, I have decided to read Sinclair Ferguson’s To Seek and to Save. I hope to post a very brief summary each day of the chapters of this book with the occasional comment of my own. I’m hoping that this will provide a positive focus for me during this time and that the discipline will get me back into the habit of daily reading and writing.

Dr Ferguson has chosen to focus on the second part of Luke’s Gospel for his “daily reflections on the road to the cross.” He takes Luke 9:51 as his focus.

When the days drew near for Jesus to be received up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem.

From this point on in the Gospel, Luke provides us with a sort of travelogue – a diary of some of the main events that took place as Jesus made His journey to Jerusalem.

Luke 9 is a turning point in the Gospel. Here we have Peter’s confession that Jesus was “the Christ of God” followed immediately by Jesus’ warning to His disciples that He was soon to suffer, to be rejected and killed, and then, on the third day, to be raised. Immediately after this shocking warning, Luke tells us about the remarkable account of Jesus’ transfiguration in the presence of Moses and Elijah, and three of His disciples – how His appearance was changed, and his clothing radiated white. And then again, almost immediately after this, Jesus gives another sobering warning that He was to be delivered into the hands of men. It was after this that Jesus set His face to go to Jerusalem.

Through these Lenten reflections, Dr Ferguson aims to help us to listen in to a number of encounters that Jesus had with different groups and individuals as He made His way to the city of Jerusalem. And He asks us to consider two questions:

  • Do we know why Jesus was on the road to Jerusalem?
  • Will we follow Him?

Ash Wednesday: The Discples who noticed the mark

I’ve never celebrated Lent. As I was brought up as a Presbyterian, it’s not something I ever did either at church or in my family. Not only that, I was never really aware of anyone else ever celebrating Lent, either. So, I’m learning about Lent as I go.

Today, for many Christians, is Ash Wednesday. It’s the day when many are asked to show that they have repented of their sins – and not just for one day, only, but for forty days of penance that end only in the celebration of the resurrection at Easter. The outward sign of this inward repentance was a mark made on the forehead with ash – hence Ash Wednesday. The ash invites others to ask us “Why?”

In his Ash Wednesday reflection, Dr Ferguson invites us to look at Jesus, who also bore a mark on His face. True, this was not a physical mark made with ash, or with anything else. But it was a mark, and it became more and more evident as Jesus made His way to Jerusalem and it was seen in the set of Jesus’ face. Jesus knew that He was going to Jerusalem to suffer and to die. It was inevitable that the dread of this was to be seen in His face.

The first people who saw this mark were Jesus’ disciples. And when they saw it, they had to make a choice. Would they follow Jesus to Jerusalem? Or would they be repelled in the horror of His suffering and His death?

Dr Ferguson warns us that everyone Jesus met on His way to Jerusalem had one of two reactions to Him. Either, they were “drawn to him in their need” or they were “repelled from him in their pride”. There was no neutral ground. Similarly, for us, there is no neutral ground in our response to Jesus.

As we follow Jesus, His face set, on the road to Jerusalem, we are to keep our eyes focused on Him.

Question: “When you read the Gospels, do you tend to look for Jesus or only for a reflection of yourself? What do you see of Jesus in this verse that moves you to praise Him?

When the days drew near for Jesus to be received up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem.

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