By John Greco
Lent is more than a season on the Church calendar. It’s a journey.
The road we take from Ash Wednesday to Holy Saturday is not an easy one. It is a path of preparation and testing, and as we travel, we are invited to set our faces toward the cross. But it is not a road without joy, for Jesus Himself travels with us, inviting us into a deeper relationship with Him and a richer experience of His kingdom.
In the book of Jeremiah, the stones are laid for the road to Calvary. Through the prophet the Lord first revealed the mystery of the new covenant. Jeremiah announced to Israel that God was going to do something new in this world, something that would unravel the knots of sin and death and bring us back to our Creator.
Through Jeremiah, the Lord promised, “I will forgive their iniquity and never again remember their sin” (Jeremiah 31:34), and it was Jesus who gave these words their fulfillment. Holding up the cup at the Last Supper, He made the connection to the cross clear: “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you” (Luke 22:20).
The book of Jeremiah recounts the last days of Judah before the destruction of Jerusalem and the sorrow of the Babylonian exile. It is itself a picture of where our sins lead us apart from the grace of God. In this account, we see our own depravity. Though our sins may differ from those of our ancient counterparts, our hearts are just as prone to wander. And it is only when we see the depths of our own sin that we can see the glory of the cross for what it truly is. During Lent, we take time to reflect on Christ’s sacrifice, and we repent of our own sins that made the cross necessary in the first place.
There is also much to gain in getting to know Jeremiah, who stands apart as a faithful man among faithless people—persecuted, beaten, and left for dead because he spoke the words God gave him to speak. He suffered for the gospel long before there was a complete and proper gospel message to proclaim. His life is an arrow pointing to Jesus, who was also obedient despite the cost, and who recognized that God-given joy is worth more than anything this world has to offer.
This Lenten season, we will follow Jesus to the mount of crucifixion, but we will do so with Jeremiah as our guide and fellow disciple for the journey. “‘Look, the days are coming’—this is the Lord’s declaration—‘when I will fulfill the good promise that I have spoken’” (Jeremiah 33:14). The cross proclaims this truth, and the empty tomb assures us that our hope is not in vain.
Written by John Greco