The season of Lent is “all about Jesus Christ.” From the days of my childhood, I have treasured Lenten services, Lenten readings, Lenten preaching, and Lenten hymns. Through these, God so vividly shows me my sin my great need for help and mercy. And through these same means, God sets the cross of Jesus before my eyes. God’s Spirit cultivates repentance and faith — hatred of my sin and love for my Savior Jesus, who loved me so and who loves me still.
Not even my wretchedness, pettiness and rebellion could separate me from the pursuing love of God. Behold the Son of God, behold the Lamb, there on the cross, bearing our sins, opening the way for us sinners, restoring us to God’s family and to God’s home forever. Behold how much He loves you!
Our Lutheran Confessions regularly refer to this as the chief article of the faith. As we enter into the 40 days of Lent, take a moment to ingest these clear, strong, scriptural words of Martin Luther:
The first and chief article is this: Jesus Christ, our God and Lord, died for our sins and was raised again for our justification (Romans 4:24–25). He alone is the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world (John 1:29), and God has laid upon Him the iniquities of us all (Isaiah 53:6). All have sinned and are justified freely, without their own works or merits, by His grace, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, in His blood (Romans 3:23–25).
This is necessary to believe. This cannot be otherwise acquired or grasped by any work, law, or merit. Therefore it is clear and certain that faith alone justifies us. As St. Paul says: For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from the works of the law (Romans 3:28). That He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus (Romans 3:26).
Nothing of this article can be yielded or surrendered even though heaven and earth and everything else falls [Mark 13:31]. For there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved (Acts 4:12). And with His stripes we are healed (Isaiah 53:5). Upon this article everything that we teach and practice depends.
The Lord bless you, dear friends, during this penitential season. May these 40 days be, for you, all about Jesus Christ.
In Christ’s love,
Dr. Thomas J. Egger
Concordia Seminary, St. Louis