On Ash Wednesday many people
will place ashes on their heads as a sign of sorrow for sinning
against God. The
practice of placing ashes on people's heads to show they're sorry for
sinning dates back to Old Testament times.
The Bible tells us the
punishment for sinning is death (Romans 6:23). In the Old Testament (before
Jesus came to earth), people sacrificed animals--they put them to
death--to take their punishment for sinning. They would then use ashes from the animal sacrifices
and place it on their heads as a sign of sorrowful repentance, which
means turning from sin--being truly sorry--turning to God, and asking
Hundreds of years before Jesus
came to earth, God told the prophet Isaiah to write about a special
man who would die for the sins of all people.
Isaiah 53:1-12 from a child-friendly Bible,
or use the shortened, Easy-to-Read Bible version, below.
“He grew up like a young
plant, like a root growing in dry ground. There was nothing special or
impressive about the way he looked, nothing we could see that would
cause us to like him.
People made fun of him, and even his friends left him. He was a man
who . . . bore our pain. But we thought that God was
punishing him, that God was beating him for something he did. But he
was being punished for what we did. . .
He was treated
badly, but he never protested. He said nothing. . .He never opened his
mouth to defend himself. He was taken away by force and judged
unfairly. . . He had done no wrong to anyone. He had never even told a
lie . . .
But the Lord was pleased with this humble servant who suffered such
pain. Even after giving himself as an offering for sin. . .
The Lord says,
“My servant, who always does what is right, will make his people
right with me; he will take away their sins. . . He was considered a
criminal, but the truth is, he carried away the sins of many. Now he
will stand before me and speak for those who have sinned.”
This passage of
Scripture is known as the Suffering Servant passage. It is
about Jesus, because he suffered and died
in our place to forgive our sins. No longer do we need to offer animal
died once, for all people (Hebrews 10:28).