Here we are in Holy week, the end of our Lenten journey. We began over a month ago, reading as Jesus bore temptation in the wilderness. We’ve followed Jesus’ journey as he prepared for the cross. Our own journey through lent is designed to remind us who our Lord is, designed to prepare our minds and hearts for the Easter season, during which God’s love is on full display. Now at the end of our journey, we are reminded that we are forgiven: our mistakes, our failures, the very things that separate us from God, all have been forgiven.
16 “This is the covenant I will make with them
after that time, says the Lord.
I will put my laws in their hearts,
and I will write them on their minds.”
17 Then he adds:
“Their sins and lawless acts
I will remember no more.”
18 And where these have been forgiven, sacrifice for sin is no longer necessary.
19 Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, 20 by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, 21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. 23 Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, 25 not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
As we enter Holy week, we are encouraged to dwell on the crucifixion and ponder the meaning of Jesus’ death. We are invited to come and wrestle with the multitude of emotions on display, both in our readings and within ourselves.
We began our Lenten journey with the reminder that “Lent is not giving something up but rather taking upon ourselves the intention and the receptivity of God’s grace so that we may worthily participate in the mystery of God-with-us.” Now at its conclusion, we ask ourselves those very questions. How have I been intentional in taking upon myself God’s grace? How have I been transformed by the very notion of Immanuel (God with us)?
The journey of Lent is not simply about engaging in spiritual practice for a set period of time. Instead, it’s a time when we purposefully engage with who God is, when we intentionally ask ourselves if we are living lives that display the transformative power of the cross.
This reading in Hebrews reminds us that through Jesus, our sins and mistakes are forgiven; by the blood of Jesus we are free to enter the Most Holy Place. Not only this, it reminds us that our spiritual journeys are not isolated. We are part of a wider community, part of a family who spur one another on toward love and good deeds, who meet and journey together – ultimately a family who encourage one another.
In the cross we are free, but the cross isn’t solely a place for our personal salvation. It acts as a communal witness of encouragement and hope for us all. In the cross we are welcomed into the family, the community, the Christ whānau. We are not alone.
While you ponder the text, maybe these questions will guide your thoughts.
- What have you learnt in your Lenten journey?
- How willing are you to spur one another on toward love and good deeds?
- What is the Lord saying to you now?
When we see the cross, we see freedom. We see a future. We see that we are loved beyond words. We see that we are not alone. Be encouraged that we are together in this journey. The Lord calls us as individuals, but we are also called as a fellowship of brothers and sisters, bound together in the power of the cross. May we all be at peace and be transformed in that knowledge.