For where your treasure is,
there your heart
will be also.
(Matthew 6)
In Name of Jesus. Amen.
Ashes. That is what your whole life is apart from Christ. All your plans, all your hopes, all your works apart from Him are nothing but ashes. They are ashes, because threaded through all of them are your sins: pride, arrogance, selfishness. Genesis 3: "...dust you are and to dust you will return.” Children of Adam and Eve is who we are. To hear these words as the Ashes are put on our foreheads can be quite sobering. It re-minds us of our mortality, our sins and where sins ends, in death. (Romans 6)
Ashes in the Bible
The Bible contains a number of references to ashes and dust (cf. Joshua 7:6; 1 Samuel 4:12; 2 Samuel 1:2, 15:32; Job 2:12, 16:15; Jeremiah 25:34; Lamentations 2:10; Ezekiel 27:30; Jonah 3:6). In fact, the Lord's curse on Adam, “dust you are, and to dust you shall return” (Genesis 3:19) is echoed in the Imposition of Ashes formula. In the New Testament, Jesus declares: “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the mighty works done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sack-cloth and ashes” (Matthew 11:21). Thus, in the Bible, ashes carry a two-fold meaning: as a sign of human mortality (Genesis 3:19) and as a sign of public repentance (Matthew 11:21).
But look, those Ashes are in the sign of the Cross—where Jesus took all your sin and the punishment that was do you. Jesus put them to death. He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the charge of our legal debt, which stood against us and condemned us; Jesus has taken it away, nailing it to the cross. And having dis-armed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross. (Colossians 2)
Treasure. Jesus is our treasure, He is our life, bringing us salvation.
“Receive the sign of the Holy Cross both upon your forehead and upon your heart to mark you as one re-deemed by Christ, the Crucified.” Those words were spoken to you at your Baptism. Being Baptized into Christ, it is no longer you who live, but Christ who lives in you.
This Lent:
  • Treasure--God's call to you to Repent.
  • Treasure God's gift of Holy Absolution that your sins are forgiven for Christ sake.
  • Treasure where Jesus comes to dine with you in His Holy Supper giving you the treasure of His Body and Blood for you.
God is at work on you, His Baptized Children, creating in you a new heart; a clean heart through the Holy Spirit.
Where do the Ashes come from? From palm fronds from the previous Palm Sunday. A little olive oil is usual-ly added to improve the consistency of the ashes.
Evil world, I leave thee; Thou canst not deceive me, Thine appeal is vain.
Sin that once did blind me, Get thee far behind me, Come not forth again.
Past thy hour, O pride and pow’r; Sinful life, thy bonds I sever, Leave thee now forever.
Hence, all fear and sadness! For the Lord of gladness, Jesus, enters in.
Those who love the Father, Though the storms may gather, Still have peace within.
Yea, whate’er I here must bear, Thou art still my purest pleasure, Jesus, priceless treasure!
LSB 743 Jesus, Priceless Treasure
-Pastor Berndt