Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Looking Back on Lent

We spent Lent 2011 walking through a series of sermons called “24 Hours That Changed The World.” Before we rush headlong into our next series, lets take just a few minutes and reflect on where we’ve been and what we’ve encountered during the eight weeks of this series. {A special thank you to Linda Shaffer for putting this reflection together.}

1. Last Supper: Jesus often revealed Himself as He shared a meal with others. At this meal, Judas probably sat next to Jesus. How do you think Judas felt about this? What does this tell you about Jesus? How has Jesus revealed himself to you during meals shared with others?

2. Garden of Gethsemane: In His time of greatest need Jesus turned to God for guidance and strength. His friends tried to be there for him, but kept falling asleep. When have you failed to be attentive to Jesus? Remember that in those last moments with His Father, Jesus prayed for you and all believers. He prayed for perfect unity among believers and stated that He had given all future believers (you and me) His glory. What does this tell you about the character of Jesus? How is His glory revealed in your life?

3. Condemned by the Righteous: Jesus was persecuted and ultimately condemned by those who professed to know and love God the most. What objections would today’s “righteous” have to Jesus if He was with us now? Are you open to all of the revelations of Jesus, no matter how controversial or inconvenient? What would Jesus have you do next?

4. Jesus, Barabbas, and Pilate: Reluctantly, Pilate gave in to the crowd’s wishes. He decreed that Jesus would take the punishment that Barabbas deserved. When has “the crowd” convinced you to go against God? How do you find the strength to stay strong and true to what is right?

5. Torture and Humiliation: As Jesus was tortured and humiliated the crowd taunted Him. In this, we are aware of our own moral failure. We often fail to recognize God in our worst moments. Judas betrayed Jesus, Peter denied Him. We are afraid to speak in His defense for fear of being ostracized. When have you failed to defend God? When have you softened your testimony of God’s love in order not to offend?

6. Crucifixion: Jesus was crucified on the Passover holiday. He, who was without sin, bore the sins of the world on the cross. Since the time of Moses, the Hebrews had sacrificed a perfect lamb to remember the Passover. On this Passover, Jesus became that perfect sacrifice. His blood sealed the covenant between humanity and God and delivered all from death into eternal life. Imagine that you are at the cross, looking at Jesus as He dies. How is Jesus responding to you in these moments? How are you responding to Him?

7. Christ the Victor: In His final moments on the cross Jesus quoted the opening lines from Psalm 22. This brought to mind the entire Psalm – a final declaration of victory: “All who seek the Lord will praise Him, Their hearts will rejoice with everlasting joy. The whole earth will acknowledge the Lord and return to Him.” (Psalm 22:26-27) Three days later the tomb is empty and the risen Christ has revealed Himself. The resurrection is God’s seal of victory. In this, Jesus wins. Death is defeated and evil is overcome. In the midst of a messed up world, how does this hope change your life?

8. What if Judas had lived? How did this message change the way you view forgiveness? What is the difference between knowing that God has forgiven you and forgiving yourself? Can you fully accept the forgiveness of God without forgiving yourself? Ask God for forgiveness, and know that it is granted.

How has this season of Lent changed your faith? Your life?

What have you learned about God? About yourself? About your relationship with God?

~ Godspeed