“‘I the Lord, your God am a jealous God visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate me, showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments.’” (Exodus 20:5b-6)
Ash Wednesday begins the season of Lent. It is a season that lasts 40 days, but Sundays don’t count. It leads us to the Easter Victory of Christ. So what about Lent? What does it have to do with us today? What does it have to do with being leaders in the world and in the Church? Well, as with everything in the Church it deals with repentance. It deals with acknowledging our faults and asking for forgiveness.
The Ten Commandments is a good place to start when we begin to acknowledge our sins against God and one another. The first three commandments deal with the relationship between us and God, and then commandments four through ten deal with the relationship between us and our neighbors.
Here’s the problem with the commandments: we can’t keep them. No ifs ands or buts. We cannot keep them — at least not our own. Having the chance to teach 5th and 6th graders the catechism this year, I have grown more and more aware that when one commandment is broken, pretty much all of them are broken. Yet God commands us to keep them because He is holy, and since we are His people, we shall be holy (Lev. 20:26).
With God giving us His Law, we learn how truly sinful and broken we are. The Law is like a mirror; it shows our sin. It’s not fun to look into that mirror. Not one bit. But that is a purpose of the Ten Commandments. It makes us look at our sins against God and one another. The Law kills sin and those who commit sin. Therefore we must die to sin. The Law required blood to be spilled that sins would be atoned. In this season of Lent, we look to the true Lamb of God, Jesus Christ, who takes away the sin of the world (John 1: 29).
God made a promise that He would save you from the consequences of breaking the Law. God promised give up His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ. In His Son the Law would be fulfilled. Jesus said, “‘Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfil them’ (Matt. 5:17).” Jesus came to fulfill the Law, the Ten Commandments for you! Our sins were laid upon Jesus at His baptism, and we were given Christ’s righteousness. His work of keeping the Law is given to us so that we might receive the love that God shows to those who keep His commandments (Ex. 20:6).
So as a brother, as a student, as a son, think about what God has done for you, and live accordingly. Will we make mistakes living in this life? Of course we will. But we do not need to fear the wrath of God. He has made you clean in the blood of Christ, and He reminds you of this when we hear the words of absolution. The Law is still with us, now guiding us to live a holy life—a life that was first lived by Christ for you.