This last week, Christians all over the world began to prepare for Easter. On the Christian calendar, this is a season known as Lent, and it is a season in which we prepare for the resurrection by trying to understand the cross. By trying to understand our mortality. Mortality that is born from our impermanence. Perhaps you are familiar with the story of Adam and Eve in the opening chapters of Genesis. Theirs is a story in which frailty and death enter into the equation, and for all of human history, if we have known anything to be true, it is that death cannot be avoided.
Except that’s not where the story ends.
Because in Jesus, we do not see Death as the final victor in the cosmic battle for hope. All across the pages of human history, religious and irreligious both, as well as in the hearts of every person, there is a battle over whether hope can win out or not. It’s a battle that is asking the basic question, “Where is this all going?” Are we heading toward doom? Or are we heading toward paradise? Or somewhere in between? Does life have any meaning?
Lent gives us the opportunity to have these conversations. To share our hope in the face of mortality. And it’s not a wishful thinking, naive kind of hope. It’s a specific hope. It’s a hope that is leading us toward Easter. Towards resurrection. Towards the moment when we declare that Death is not the king of the world. Someone else is. And it’s not an emperor or a Caesar. It’s not a dictator or a president. It’s not a religious leader or a charismatic personality. No, the king is Jesus.
This week, I encourage us to think about Jesus. To think about the way that this King radically gave of himself. To think about and reflect on how Jesus in his life gave his time to others. He sat down with the woman at the well (John 4), and he spent time with her, even knowing that his disciples and anyone who saw them talking would immediately be shocked and think scandal. He committed to a life of poverty and itinerancy. He traveled throughout what was at that point historically the Promised Land, even venturing to a few other places like Egypt and Caesarea at various times. But he relied on the hospitality of others who would feed and house him and his followers (Luke 8:1-3). And ultimately, he gave his life (John 10:18, 19:30). (Paul also writes in Philippians 2 about how Jesus gives up his privilege, power, and status through the incarnation–becoming human.)
Jesus is constantly giving. And now, as we begin to prepare for Easter, for the moment when we declare every year that Death is not the final victor, but that God is, we have the opportunity to join with Christ in giving of ourselves. After all, this is what Jesus calls us to. He calls us to lay down our lives for one another, to live sacrificially for the sake of the Kingdom of Heaven, and to live bringing God’s future reality to the here and now.
This week, ask yourself these questions:
1. What am I willing to give for Jesus?
2. What do I have to be grateful to God for today?
3. Where is my hope? Is it in things, people, ideas, possessions, God, or something else?