Here is a story for you.
There once were two friends. They were the closest that any two friends could be. They did everything together, they shared every thing. There was nothing that these two friends did not know about each other. One day one of the friends was accused of a terrible crime. Because the two friends were together all the time and because they knew each other so well, the one friend knew without a doubt that the other friend could not have committed the crime. Things got crazy and somehow a trial began. The friend watched helplessly as a case was built against her accused friend. The entire case was built on obvious lies, and yet no one seemed to care or be interested in knowing the truth. The jury rapidly brought in a guilty verdict, the judge issued a death sentence. The accused friend was taken away to die. Many people knew that person did not commit the crime. Her best friend was overwhelmed with sadness.
My best friend was falsely accused of a crime and received the death sentence. It was all part of a bigger plan that God set into motion at the dawn of time. On Easter Sunday we will have close to 4 times the normal amount of people at our church than usually attend on any other given Sunday. Why are they coming? Why don't they come again the next Sunday or the next? What is so important about Easter Sunday? Is it because they heard that my dead friend would be there? One Sunday a year we have the greatest opportunity to tell non-believers the truth; they come right to us, by the thousands. They are looking for a dead guy. We need to tell them he is not there. He is alive. With so much press about the death of Christ, the time is right to tell the rest of the story.
Read the story for yourself. Please. Even if you have read it before. Luke 19:28 - 24:50. It is the most important story you will ever read. Prepare yourself. That is what the season of Lent is for. What is Lent anyway? Some churches begin the season of Lent with Ash Wednesday. Ash Wednesday developed in early medieval times as a day of penitence (sorrow, apology, regret) to mark the beginning of Lent - the forty days of preparation for the celebration of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The ashes traditionally burned from the palm branches of the previous Palm Sunday were smeared on the forehead as a reminder of our mortality, that we are "created out of the dust of the earth " and that it is only by God's grace that we receive everlasting life. In addition to this definition there are other meanings and traditions woven into Ash Wednesday. The Biblical symbolism for the imposition of ashes can be found in 2 Samuel 1:2, Genesis 37:34, Nehemiah 9:1 and Jonah 3:6. You will notice in these references it is dirt not ashes. In each of these verses the dirt and sackcloth is used to symbolize someone grieving, usually upon the death of a loved one or someone of great importance. The penitence for us today can be a time of reviewing the things in our life that Christ paid with His life when He died on the cross. Ask yourself this question: What in my life did Christ die for on the cross? Have I asked for forgiveness for that sin? What change have I made in my life to prevent that sin from re-occurring? Have I accepted the forgiveness that Christ offers to me when I confess my sins?
Sin in our life has the potential to prevent us from telling our friends about Jesus. Once we are free from sin we can then help free others. Thousands of them will be at our churches on Easter Sunday. They come and most do not return because there was nothing exciting enough, real enough, truthful enough to make them come again. We know different. My best friend was accused of a crime that I committed called sin and he paid for it with His life, but that is not the end of the story. My friend died for me and then He came back to life. That is as exciting, as real, as truthful as anything I know. I just need to share it.