Ashes to Ashes and Dust to Dust. From Whence We Came We Shall Return.

Why do we put ashes on our foreheads on Ash Wednesday?

Ash Wednesday is the first day of Lent.

Lent is a season of the church year. It is a season of penitence. Penitence means remorse for wrongdoings, in this case our sin.   Lent is a preparatory season, which means we are preparing for Jesus’ death and resurrection.

ash-wednesday

The question then is, “why the ashes for repentance?”

This comes from the ancient biblical tradition of covering one’s head with ashes, wearing sackcloth, and fasting.

Let’s see this tradition made visible in scripture.

Daniel 9:1-6, 17-19

Jonah 3:1-10

Other parts of scripture also show this practice for penitence and mourning.

On Ash Wednesday the church carries on this ancient tradition of using ashes.

On Ash Wednesday churchgoers are marked on the forehead with a cross of ashes.

Symbolism of the ashes:

The ashes remind us that . .

– Death comes to everyone

– We should be sorry for our sins.

Where does this symbolism come from in Scripture?

Genesis 2:7

Genesis 3:1-5, 19

God made the first human being by breathing life into dust, and without God, human beings are nothing more than dust and ashes.

Genesis 18:27

In Conclusion, putting on ashes is a symbol of the death that we so rightly deserve because of our sin. The ashes are in the form of the cross because it reminds us that God in his mercy gave us his Son, Jesus, to take our sin and death and die in our place.

“Jesus could have had a twin brother.” – the script.

Since I had a conversation recently with someone who actually believed that Jesus probably had an identical twin brother that no one knew about who faked the resurrection, rather than Jesus having real bodily resurrection, this student written script from my apologetics class came to mind.  Hopefully, you like it.  Share some comments so the students can get some feedback on their work from outside our class.

Scenario: Jesus Christ had a twin brother

Setting: Ash Wednesday Chapel at school

Twin 1: Hey! Why did you get one?

Christian: This is symbol of the resurrection of Jesus Christ from physical death to life. 

Twin 2: Resurrection sounds rather impossible. 

Twin 1: Yeah, what if the resurrection of Jesus Christ was all a lie? A fragment of people’s imagination?

Christian: What do you mean?

Twin 2: What if Jesus was like one of us? What if he had a twin brother?

Twin 1: Yeah, what if people mistook Jesus’ unseen twin brother as Jesus Christ?

Twin 2: As you can see, we are identical twins. [Pause] People mistake us for each other all the time. What if it was the same for Jesus? After all, Jesus Christ was fully human – so there is no possible and rational explanation for his coming back from the dead. 

Christian: Hmm….. That is an invalid argument. As seen in Scripture, Jesus’ town knew of his family well, many people grew up among them (Matthew 13:55-56 “He’s just the carpenter’s son, and we know Mary, his mother, and his brothers– James, Joseph, Simon, and Judas. All his sisters live right here among us.  Where did he learn all these things.”). Also people didn’t find Jesus in the tomb,  there were guards there the whole time (their life was on the line so they didn’t lie) and the rock that covered the tomb was way too heavy to move.  The shepherds came to the stable and saw him right after birth with his mother and father.  There was no way for Joseph and Mary to hide a twin, because they had no idea that Jesus was going to die in 33 years.   

Twin 1: Okay. So then, Jesus really did come back to life?

Christian: Yes. There are six evidences that support the resurrection of Christ. These are the empty tomb, the postcruxifixion appearances, the transformation of the apostles, the conversion of Saul of Tarsus, emergence of the Christian Church, and a switch to Sunday as a Day of Worship. I would love to spend more time discussing these evidences in more depth, but we are running out of time. Chapel is about to end. 

Twin 2: Okay. Now, Jesus’ resurrection makes more sense. Hmm.. we should get the ashes! 

Twin 1: Yeah!

Christian: Let’s go!