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Take Time to PONDER During Lent

I remember the days of old; I meditate on all Your works; I muse on the work of Your hands. (Psalm 143:5)

How would you like to take a unique tour of the Holy Land? There are, of course, many different options for traveling to the land of Jesus’ ministry and seeing the sights, but no one else offers a tour like this one, where you’ll be able to visit all the major highlights in only twelve hours! You’ll never need to get off the bus as you stop briefly in the parking lot of the Church of the Nativity, travel across a bridge over the Jordan River, and drive past the Sea of Galilee and the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. You’ll view the Garden of Gethsemane, Calvary, and the Garden Tomb, all from the window of your air-conditioned coach. All this can be yours for only $1,199.95! (plus airfare).

Is there anyone who would seriously consider this kind of tour? Of course not. A passing view of these places would never satisfy. If you’re going to travel halfway around the world to see the places where Jesus lived, died, and rose again, you will want to truly experience them. You’ll want to sit quietly among the olive trees in the Garden of Gethsemane and think of the Savior struggling in prayer. You’ll take your time as you stand at Gabbatha, the stone pavement where Jesus was put on trial before Pilate, and imagine the crowd crying, “Crucify Him!” You’ll linger at Calvary as you contemplate the deep darkness of the world’s sin that Jesus bore on the cross. You’ll savor the joy at the Garden Tomb, as the angel’s announcement, “He is risen!” echoes across the centuries.

Sadly, too often the business of our lives keeps us from taking advantage of the real “tour” that our Lord has in mind for us during the Lenten season. We sing “Jesus, I will ponder now, on Thy holy passion,” and then breeze past the events of His self-sacrifice with only a passing thought. We flip through the scenes of our Savior’s passion as we would a travel brochure, thinking “Yes, I’ve been there.” Then our thoughts return to our schedules, responsibilities, worries, and various entertainments. That’s a terrible shame, because the price for this full tour was astronomical–Jesus paid for it with His own innocent life. The blessings of this full tour are immeasurable, when you experience once again the love of God for you personally, with the assurance that Jesus did all these things to pay the price for your sins, make you His own by faith, and draw you to Himself in heaven.

“Keep watch with Me,” the Savior said to His disciples in Gethsemane, and so He says to us. The full and blessed depth of meaning in the message of Lent can’t be appreciated with only a cursory view. It takes personal and prayerful contemplation with God’s Word. And, like the best tours, your experience will be enhanced on a group trip with a capable guide. What could be better than to visit the sites of Jesus’ outpouring of love for us with fellow Christians, along with a guide who will help us to slow down and really ponder the events and their meaning? That is the very purpose of Lenten worship services, so be sure to take advantage of these well-guided tours.

“Go to dark Gethsemane . . . Follow to the judgment hall . . . Calvary’s mournful mountain climb . . . Early hasten to the tomb.” (TLH 159) We do this when, like David, we remember the days of old, meditate on all of God’s works, and muse on the work of His hands. May God bless the time you take to truly ponder what Jesus has done for you!

Bruce Naumann is senior pastor of Messiah Lutheran Church in Eau Claire, Wisconsin.