Speaker: Tyler McKenzie
Lent: What to Expect
For the next seven weeks leading up to Easter, we’re looking back, remembering our sin that led to death.
Each week, you’ll be invited to participate in:
- Reading a devotion from one of our staff members about the work of Jesus.
- A few questions for reflection
If you commit to engaging in this season of Lent with us, it’s our prayer that you’ll approach Easter with confidence and joy, ready to worship our God who is alive.
This resource can be used for your individual growth, but we encourage you to use it in community with others. Walk through the weekly reflections with your small group, or use the reflection section for weekly accountability with a close friend.
Week One Devotional
By Avery Michaels
“Is eating a sandwich.”
“Has so much homework to do. Ugh.”
“Looooves Justin Bieber’s new CD. OMG.”
I’m not sure when it began, but I developed a daily habit of checking my Facebook memories to have a laugh and then promptly delete the embarrassing stuff. The computers in our pockets make it easy to remember all of the little moments we felt compelled to document from 2009 onward. The sandwich you ate twelve years ago. The vacation you took with your family. At the end of the day, remembering our “digital footprint” is fun at best and cringey at worst.
“Why did I post that? Who even cares? Did my hair really look like that? Yes it did.”
With the tap of a button, you have the power to remember what you want to remember, and delete the embarrassing stuff forever.
Shame doesn’t work like that, though.
Are you ever having a perfectly fine day until you remember something dumb you did ten years ago? Or maybe more like ten minutes ago? You’re minding your own business and then the sting of a past mistake pops up like a notification on your homescreen. Ouch.
“Why did I say that? Why did I do that? Why do I always do that?”
Your mind starts scrolling, remembering all of the shame on your timeline. There’s a knot in your stomach, a lump in your throat as you reckon with the reality of the sins that came from you. The sins done to you.
“Where is the delete button? I don’t want to remember this part.”
During the first sermon in this series, Lent: Death Became Victory, (linked above), Tyler unpacked the effect that sin had on our world through Adam and Eve desiring to be like God, wanting the knowledge of both good and evil. We learned from the apostle Paul in his letter to the Romans that, “When Adam sinned, sin entered the world. Adam’s sin brought death, so death spread to everyone, for everyone sinned.” (Romans 5:12)
Tyler gave an illustration in this message about the cost of sin. I’d heard the illustration from him before, but something was different this time, and I think it changed my life. He explained that sin always has a cost. When something bad happens, someone always has to pay. If you’re in the parking lot and someone rear-ends you, you could legally require them to pay for the damages. Or, you could pay for the damages yourself. He went on to explain that this is what Jesus did on the cross.
Jesus saw all of your past and future mistakes. He saw every time you’ve tried to play God and choose your own path for your life, leaving broken relationships and consequences in your wake.
Jesus saw all of the shame and regret you carry in your heart like memories on your timeline. He saw your sin that leads to death and separates you from a holy God, and said, “I’ll pay.”
I suddenly heard a baby babbling away a few rows in front of me. The innocent gibberish was accompanied by this declaration from Jesus: “I’ll pay.” At that moment, I understood the sacrificial death of Jesus in a whole new way.
I couldn’t help but think back to the season of Advent, where we remember that Jesus came into this broken world as a newborn baby, tender and innocent, the very Son of God. I’m positive he babbled away in the synagogue when Mary and Joseph brought him along.
It made me wonder: If we could understand the babbling of the infant Jesus, would he be crying out, “I’ll pay. I’ll pay. I’ll pay.”
Jesus lived a sinless life, in full submission to his Father. And when the time came, 33 years after he cried for the first time in Mary’s arms, he was crucified and died to pay the debt for our sins.
Through his death, Jesus deleted the penalty of sin from your whole timeline, both past and future, and declared you right with God. Shame stamped out. Debt deleted. Guilt removed.
In this season of Lent, we look back at our past sin so that we can remember our need for a Savior. We search our hearts for all of the ways we’re currently living out of step with the Holy Spirit. We confess and repent, preparing our hearts to celebrate Jesus’ death and resurrection.
During this season of preparation and repentance, if you feel dragged down by shame or held captive by your past, I hope you hear the babbling of a newborn baby. Hear the innocent, holy, resurrected Jesus declare over you, “I paid. I paid. I paid.”
If you’ve never asked Jesus to forgive your sin or make you right with God, it’s not too late, and he won’t say no. The darkness you feel will not last forever. Your debt is already paid, the memory already deleted. Death does not have the final word.
The baby does.