Posted by Dr. Wade Smith on February 22, 2018
Lent is the Christian season of preparation for Easter Sunday. Lent commences on Ash Wednesday and builds through Holy Week. Holy Week celebrations start on Palm Sunday with the crowds welcoming Jesus to Jerusalem. By Good Friday the crowds have violently turned on Jesus, crying for His death and crucifixion. Holy Saturday is the culmination of Lent in anticipation of Easter morning.
How will you use this season of Lent to prepare for Easter resurrection?
In Matthew 16, Jesus asked His disciples, “Who do you say that I am?” Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” From that time on, Jesus began to prepare His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, suffer many things, be killed and be raised on “The Third Day.” In Luke 13 Jesus revealed to His disciples that “on the third day He would finish His work.” Of course, the disciples did not want to hear this and refused to listen to what Jesus was trying to reveal.
Throughout the scriptures “The Third Day” is a powerful sign of God’s victory over death and His creative and redemptive work among us. Both the Old and New Testaments anticipate the pivotal “Third Day” resurrection through their stories, foreshadowings, and prophecies.
The creation story of Genesis 1 tells us that on “The Third Day” life sprung forth from the earth. On the third day Abraham and Isaac arrived at the mount called “The Lord will Provide” and found a ram caught in the thicket to be used as a sacrifice. On the third day Moses was called to the top of Mt. Sinai and God spoke His commandments.
Rahab told the Hebrew spies to hide in the hill country for three days before they could make their way back safely to their people. Esther on the third day after praying and fasting put on her royal robes, stood in the inner court of the king’s palace and asked for an audience with the king so that her people might be saved.
The Prophet Hosea prophesied that the Lord would revive His people after two days, and on the third day He would raise them up so that they may live for Him. And who can forget the story of Jonah in the belly of a great fish for three days and three nights, a story that Jesus used to foreshadow His three days in the tomb.
Jesus changed water into wine on the third day, offering a sign that on the third day a new covenant would be inaugurated. This would be the New Covenant of Grace, replacing the Old Covenant of Law.
It is significant that on “The Third Day” something like scales fell from Saul’s eyes and he regained his sight, got up, and was baptized. This was the pivotal moment in Saul’s life. Prior to this “Third Day” experience, Saul was spiritually blind and wandered through life misguidedly, hurting and judging people. Afterward Saul, better known as the Apostle Paul, passionately committed his life to helping people discover and live out the life of Christ.
Lent is our invitation to prepare for “The Third Day.” Granted, sometimes first and second days can be difficult. They can be filled with darkness, blindness, doubt and discouragement. Yet, we can and must persevere through prayer, fasting, hope and faith. We can make it to “The Third Day,” because that is when tombs are emptied, water turns to wine, and scales fall from our eyes so that we can experience abundant and eternal life.