Sometimes it seems like everything in the Bible is talking about Christ, and that’s certainly true of the Psalms.
So here we are on Ash Wednesday, and Psalm 101:10/102:9 says, “For I ate my ashes like bread, and I mixed my drink with weeping.”
Usually we think of Christ’s Body and Blood as something we rejoice in, as a banquet, with Wisdom standing before her house and calling, “Come eat my bread, and drink the wine I have mixed for you.” (Prov. 9:5)
But first Wisdom “has sacrificed her victims.” (Prov. 9:2) There is no resurrection without the Crucifixion, and no banquet without the Lamb Who was slain.
And He was slain for our sins. There is a world of horrors and massacres out there; but even our little sins are enough to break a covenant and a world, because we were born to have the high position of being heads of Creation. We are no better than Adam or Eve, and we must turn to Him and admit it.
The ashes on our forehead are in the ancient sheepmarking form of the Hebrew letter Tav. They are there to mark us as His, a sheep belonging to the Lamb. But they also warn us of the kind of suffering we must carry, and perhaps the kind of death that we must die, to follow Him.
Whenever danger came in the Bible, or the people were warned that bad things were coming, the wise would spend time in prayer, mourning and putting ashes on their heads. Lent is hard, but the things the world wants to do to people are even nastier. It’s logical to realize that only God can save us, and to apologize for ignoring Him.
So our hearts eat ashes like we eat His Flesh, and we mix our tears with His Blood; and we pray for those who have not come to Him yet. Let us remember that His kindness was undeserved, and that we need Him, always.
But do not lose hope. Because when Jesus proclaimed His ministry, He quoted Isaiah 61:1-2 from the Septuagint —
“The spirit of the Lord is upon me. Therefore the Lord has anointed Me. He hath sent me to preach good news to the poor, to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to captives… and sight to the blind… and to send forth with remission those who were broken, and to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.”
And then He sat down, because the rest would wait until His next Coming:
“And the day of recompense of our God: to comfort all who mourn, to extend it to the mourners of Zion; and to give them a crown instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, a garment of praise instead of the spirit of grief. And they shall be called in it the mighty trees of righteousness, the Lord’s planting, to glorify Him.” (Is. 61:2-3)
(I got the ideas for this from skimming the first couple pages of this book.)