In Luke’s Gospel, there is a moment where the whole story of Jesus turns.
Jesus has been teaching and healing throughout Galilee, every word and action laden with the good news of God’s upside-down kingdom. He has cornered the disciples on that most urgent of questions, “Who do you say that I am?” and Peter has rightly confessed, “God’s Messiah,” the king in David’s line who brings in God’s kingdom on earth. Jesus has duly warned his disciples of the cost of following him—self-denying, cross-bearing, the loss of their very lives, daily—and he has dazzled his closest followers with a vision of his true Messianic glory.
He set his face to go to Jerusalem. He turned to the cross that awaited him there.
Today is the first day of the season of Lent. Today is a turning point in our own story. Today we, like Jesus, set our face to Jerusalem. Today we turn to the cross.
We have heard Jesus’ kingdom teaching. Now it’s time to live it out, confessing our sins as we forgive others theirs, pursuing love of neighbour and peace with enemy and radical faith in God.
We have seen Jesus’ signs of the kingdom. Now it’s time to seek first God’s upside-down kingdom and right-making justice, above all other kingdoms and forms of justice.
We have confessed Jesus as Lord and King. Now it’s time to follow our Lord Jesus in denying ourselves, bearing our own cross daily, giving our lives for others for Jesus’ sake.
We have been dazzled by Jesus’ true glory. Now it’s time to bring glory to Jesus by walking in his cross-shaped footsteps of faith, and hope, and love.
We have encountered God in Jesus. Now it’s time to bear witness to this Jesus who teaches and heals, who gives and loves, who turns to the cross and dies—and then is gloriously resurrected.
Of course, we should be doing these things all year. But we’re so prone to forget, even to “forget on purpose,” especially the difficult things like confessing our sins and denying ourselves and following Jesus in self-giving love for the other. Following the church calendar forces us to remember. It imprints the story of Jesus on our lives season after season, year after year. Observing Lent forces us to “remember on purpose” even those difficult things of Jesus’ story that should shape our own.
But we do so just like Jesus, “the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who, for the joy set before him, endured the cross” (Heb 12:2). We turn to the cross just like Jesus did—trusting in the faithful God, hoping in the God of love, looking ahead to the joy of resurrection, new life, true and flourishing life.
I invite you to join us at Morden Mennonite Church as we turn to the cross during Lent. Together we will reflect on how we have encountered God in Jesus, how we have witnessed Jesus at work in our lives, and how we can bear witness to God’s saving, loving presence in Christ by the Spirit.