What are you giving up for Lent? That's a question that you don't hear so often today. As a child, I recall it being said many times. People made a point of giving up something for the duration of the Lenten season. Some decided to forsake sweets or their favorite food. Others decided to stop smoking during Lent.
The idea of giving up something for Lent is tied to the act of making a sacrifice. Making a sacrifice during Lent, as small as it might be, may help to remind an individual of the tremendous sacrifice that our Lord made for us on the cross at Calvary.
When Jesus died on the cross, he made the greatest and the perfect sacrifice. He is the Lord, the creator of heaven and earth. And yet he allowed sinful, mortal men to beat him, spit on him, humiliate him, and finally to crucify him. A mere thought on Jesus’ part and his enemies would be vanquished.
We cannot truly comprehend the sacrifices that Jesus made for us. We may be able to imagine what it would be like to live in a run down, dilapidated old house in a dangerous part of town. But, can we ever imagine what it would be like to give up the glory and bliss of heaven for a life on this earth? We may be able to imagine what it would be like to be in a situation where we would feel helpless. But, can we imagine what it was like for Jesus, the all powerful God who has every angel at his beck and call, to not make use of those powers so that his enemies could bind and beat him, mock him and crucify him?
Understanding what Jesus went through is even more difficult when it comes to the guilt and punishment of sin. When Jesus came to this earth until he died at Calvary, Jesus bore the guilt and shame of ALL sins, for ALL people, for ALL time. They were on his shoulders, placed there by his Father. Isaiah tells us that "the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all." (Is 53:6) In verse five, Isaiah says, "But he was pierced for our transgressions and crushed for our iniquities...." I can't imagine what that must have been like for our Lord to go through all of this. We only get an indication of what it must have been like when Jesus cried out on the cross, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" (Mt 27:46)
Yes, Jesus' sacrifice was so complete, so amazing, so wonderful, that it is impossible for us to fully understand and appreciate all that he did for us. If giving up something for Lent helps us to focus on what Jesus did for you, great! We must never lose sight of our Savior’s amazing love for sinners and the sacrifice he made for us. To God be the glory.