We are not children of the bondwoman but of the free. (Galatians 4:31)
In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. “Rejoice with Jerusalem, and be glad with her, all you who love her; that you may feed and be satisfied with the consolation of her bosom” (Isaiah 66:10-11) Strange words to have as an Introit during Lent. Lent is supposed to be sad and gloomy No joy. No smiles. That’s how we’re supposed to do our Lenting, right?
Repent of your Lenting. Lent is Lent not because of your repentance, your being sad and sorry that you’re a sinner. You should be sorry that you’re a sinner! So sorry, in fact, that you should stop sinning. Even your pet sins. The ones you’re “sorry, not sorry” about. Those things don’t make you a sinner. You do them because you are a sinner.
You don’t need more Law. The Law won’t save you. It won’t remove your sins. Doing the Law won’t make up for your sins against the Law. The Law must be kept perfectly. But we want more Law, either for ourselves, where we made God’s Law easier to do, or for those around us so that we can outpace them in the being-good race.
“Tell me, you who desire to be under the law, do you not hear the law?” (Galatians 4:21) “For it is written, ‘Cursed is everyone who does not continue in all things which are written in the book of the law, to do them’” (Galatians 3:10) “The law is not of faith, but ‘the man who does them shall live by them’” (Galatians 3:12) “The wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23) The Law says, “Do this,” and it never happens. When it’s not done, there’s only one place that lands you: hell forever.
But there is joy in Lent! Our Lenten joy has nothing to do with you and your being sorry. It has nothing to do with the Law. The Law will only bring more and more knowledge of your sin. It will put more and more burdens on you. But you’re not a child of the bondwoman, but of the free. Your joy is in Jesus. “Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us (for it is written, ‘Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree’), that the blessing of Abraham might come upon the Gentiles in Christ Jesus, that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith” (Galatians 3:13-14).
Grace says, “Believe in Him,” and now everything has been done. Jesus paid the price for your sins: blood and death. But also in Jesus, baptized into Him, you’ve done the Law because Jesus Himself did the Law perfectly in your place. His perfect record is your perfect record. You’re a baptized free child of God. Go ahead. Crack a smile about it. Even in Lent. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.