Today is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent, a time that Christians historically have used to prepare for the upcoming Easter celebrations.
I know that Lent is not kept by most evangelicals, and that’s okay. There’s no Scripture passage forbidding it or advocating it, so whether one decides to prepare for Easter in this manner is left to one’s conscience.
This season serves as a time of reflection upon the sufferings of Christ. It is a season of repentance, a time of dying to self that anticipates new life on the other side, just like the last days of winter anticipate the arrival of Spring.
During Lent, I try to temper my voracious appetite for reading by adding several devotional works to my reading schedule.
I am glad to see that Crossway has published several solid collections of devotional material in recent years. One of the recent publications, Jesus, Keep Me Near the Cross: Experiencing the Passion and Power of Easter, is edited by Nancy Guthrie and contains 25 sermon or book excerpts about the suffering and exaltation of Jesus Christ.
Guthrie’s collection features recent writings from pastors and authors like Adrian Rogers, Joni Eareckson Tada, John Piper, and Tim Keller. But it also features several “classic” sermon excerpts from the past: Augustine, John Calvin, Martin Luther, Charles Spurgeon, and Jonathan Edwards.
I am looking forward to finishing this fine collection of meditations during Lent this year. So let me encourage you – whether or not you “give up something” – at least use these few weeks to prepare for Easter, giving thought to the price paid for your ransom and the extraordinary love of God manifested on Calvary. May Jesus keep you near his cross!