Easter is the most important holiday on the Christian calendar, when we remember the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ, the central work of God in the Gospel. Over the years, traditions have emerged around Easter, from cartoon bunnies to liturgical events.
Those of the Catholic tradition observe Lent leading up to Easter. Lent is a 40-day season of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving (generosity to the poor). It begins on Ash Wednesday and ends at sundown of Holy Thursday during Easter week. While Lent is traditionally Catholic, more Protestants and Evangelicals have begun to find value in this observance, as well.
Fasting is the most common and important part of Lent. People usually don’t give up all food but a certain type, like sweets or chocolate or meat. They might fast from certain entertainment or other luxury items.
An important element during Lent is prayer and meditation. Biblical fasting isn’t for losing weight or physical health but to take that time and energy for more prayer and meditation. Since Lent leads to Easter, meditating on Christ’s sacrifice is appropriate.
Here are seven passages on Jesus’ journey to the cross to meditate on this Lent.
Jesus’ Agony in the Garden
Meditating on Jesus’ agony in the Garden of Gethsemane offers a profound opportunity for reflection and spiritual growth. In Matthew 26:36-46, we witness Jesus grappling with the weight of His impending crucifixion, experiencing deep sorrow and distress. This poignant moment reveals His humanity as He prays,
“My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.”
This passage invites us to empathize with Jesus’ emotional turmoil and surrender to God’s will. It encourages self-examination, humility, and a willingness to submit our own desires to God’s plan. Jesus possessed a will contrary to his Father’s and submitted to the Lord. Our own contrary will isn’t sin, yet we must also submit our will to God and His redemptive plan.
Through this meditation, we can deepen our appreciation for the sacrifice Jesus willingly embraced for our redemption. It becomes a transformative journey of drawing closer to God, acknowledging our vulnerabilities, and finding strength in surrender, echoing Jesus’ words, “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation” (Matthew 26:41). This Lenten reflection guides believers towards a more profound understanding of the cost of redemption and a renewed commitment to aligning our will with God’s purpose.
Jesus’ Betrayal and Arrest
While in the Garden, Judas betrays Jesus, who is then arrested. Meditating on the betrayal and arrest of Jesus in the garden during Lent invites a contemplative journey into the depths of Christ’s sacrificial love and human vulnerability. In Matthew 26:47-56, the poignant scene unfolds as Judas identifies Jesus with a kiss, leading to His arrest by a cohort of soldiers. The injustice of betrayal by a close disciple and the ensuing arrest illustrate Jesus’ submission to God’s redemptive plan.
As we reflect on this passage, we are compelled to confront both how others have betrayed us, and the times we have failed to stand with Christ. The garden becomes a sacred space for acknowledging our need for divine mercy. Jesus’ resolute surrender, despite the unjust circumstances, becomes a source of inspiration for believers in their Lenten journey.
The betrayal and arrest of Jesus prompts a deep examination of conscience, fostering humility and repentance. It calls for a commitment to walk faithfully with Christ, especially in times of trial. This Lenten reflection cultivates a spirit of gratitude for Christ’s unyielding love, encouraging believers to live in alignment with His example of selfless obedience and enduring faithfulness.
Jesus Before High Priest
After his arrest, the soldiers brought him before the High Priest and the Jewish council. Meditating on Jesus before the high priest during Lent invites contemplation of Christ’s unwavering commitment to His mission amid unjust accusations and scrutiny. In Matthew 26:57-68, the scene unfolds as Jesus faces a trial before the high priest Caiaphas and the Sanhedrin. Despite false witnesses and accusations, Jesus maintains a dignified silence, refusing to defend Himself.
During Lent, this meditation prompts us to reflect on our own responses to unjust accusations or opposition. Jesus’ steadfast demeanor becomes a model of humility and trust in God’s ultimate justice. The scene calls for self-examination, urging individuals to embody Christ’s resilience in the face of adversity.
The high priest’s questioning also highlights Jesus’ divine identity as the Son of God, as he declared as much before the Sanhedrin. It becomes an opportunity to align our own lives with the values of truth, integrity, and trust in God’s providence, even when coming under unjust scrutiny. This Lenten reflection encourages us to emulate Jesus’ steadfastness and faith, recognizing the transformative power of resilience and knowledge of our identity in Christ.
The Beating and Whipping of Jesus
Before the final decision to crucify Jesus, the Romans sent him to be beaten and whipped, almost to the point of death. Meditating on Jesus’ beating and whipping during Lent provides a solemn opportunity to reflect on the depth of Christ’s suffering and the price paid for redemption. In the Gospel accounts, particularly in Matthew 27:26 and Mark 15:15, we encounter the brutal scene where Jesus is scourged before His crucifixion.
Contemplating this aspect of the Passion narrative prompts a profound examination of the physical and emotional anguish Jesus endured. The merciless lashes, borne for the sins of humanity, become a poignant symbol of His sacrificial love. This meditation invites us to empathize with Christ’s pain, acknowledging the weight of sin that necessitated such suffering.
During Lent, this reflection becomes a call to repentance and gratitude. It encourages us to confront the reality of our own shortcomings and sins, recognizing the immense price Jesus paid for our redemption. Through this meditation, we deepen our appreciation for the magnitude of God’s love, finding solace in Christ’s willingness to endure brutality for the sake of humanity’s salvation. It serves as both a somber reminder of the gravity of sin and the boundless mercy extended through Christ’s sacrificial act.
Jesus Before Pilate
Once beaten and scourged, they brought Jesus before the Roman governor, Pilate. Meditating on Jesus before Pilate during Lent invites us to reflect on the pivotal moment when Christ stood before a secular authority, facing false accusations and the impending decision of His fate. As described in Matthew 27:11-26, this encounter with Pontius Pilate unveils the intersection of divine purpose and human judgment.
As we engage in this Lenten meditation, we contemplate Christ’s humility in the face of unjust accusations and His refusal to defend Himself forcefully. Pilate’s questioning and the crowd’s demands create a backdrop for introspection, encouraging us to examine our own responses to external pressures and societal expectations.
This reflection becomes an opportunity to ponder the contrast between the earthly authority of Pilate and the divine authority embodied in Jesus. During this encounter with Pilate, Jesus declares he is a king, but his Kingdom isn’t of this world ( as well as Say Yes: How God-Sized Dreams Take Flight.
LISTEN: How to Love Difficult People: Practicing Lent as a Family
Asheritah gives great tips on how we can practice this season of Lent with intentionality for ourselves, and if you have children, she gives some great tips on practicing Lent as a family.
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WATCH: 10 Interesting Facts about Lent