Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of Lent, a period of spiritual renewal, discipline and repentence in the Christian faith. During this time there is rich collection of scriptures that can guide us in our journey.
Here we will explore some Bible verses for Ash Wednesday, that open to help lead the way towards reflection and change.
Bible Verses for Ash Wednesday
The Significance of Ash Wednesday
The Christian season of Lent begins with Ash Wednesday. It is a day of introspection, remorse, and introspection. Believers receive ashes applied in the shape of a cross on their foreheads, which symbolizes the need for forgiveness due to our human frailty.
Ashes have been used throughout history as symbols of mourning and repentance. They are mentioned numerous times in the Bible with Job repenting in ashes in the Old Testament and Jesus referencing them as a sign of humility for repentance in the New Testament.
The ashes used on Ash Wednesday are made from burnt palms from the previous year’s Palm Sunday celebrations mixed with oil to form a paste.
The application of ashes on Ash Wednesday serves as a reminder to turn away from sin and toward God while remembering our mortality and eventual return to dust. It is a powerful symbol representing our need for redemption through Christ.
“And the priest shall put on his linen garment and put his linen undergarment on his body, and he shall take up the ashes to which the fire has reduced the burnt offering on the altar and put them beside the altar.”
“Therefore, I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes.”
“For I eat ashes like bread and mingle tears with my drink,”
“to grant to those who mourn in Zion— to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit; that they may be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he may be glorified.”
“The word reached the king of Nineveh, and he arose from his throne, removed his robe, covered himself with sackcloth, and sat in ashes.”
The Practice of Repentance
The act of repentance holds particular importance during the season of Lent. Repentance means turning away from our sinful behaviors and focusing towards God. Through this process, we seek reconciliation and forgiveness.
However, repentance is not just about regret or remorse. To truly repent, it requires more than that. It is about wanting to change and aligning ourselves with God’s teachings. This involves being humble and accountable for our faults, allowing Him to help us overcome them.
It is through repentance that we can find redemption and salvation, enabling us to reconcile with God and receive his grace and pardon. As we engage in this practice of repentance, we are presented with an opportunity to experience love, mercy, and power of transformation embedded in God’s works- bringing us even closer to Him.
““Yet even now,” declares the Lord, “return to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning; and rend your hearts and not your garments.” Return to the Lord your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love; and he relents over disaster.”
“And when you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, that your fasting may not be seen by others but by your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.”
“And he arose and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’”
2 Corinthians 7:10
“For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death.”
“Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.”
The Reminder of Mortality
Ash Wednesday is a day when we apply ashes to our foreheads to remind us of our own mortality. It tells us that we are not invincible, and that our time on earth is limited. This thought spurs us on to live each day with purpose and focus on the things that are important in life.
It is also a reminder of the urgency of repentance and living a life pleasing to God. We should prioritize our relationship with God and prioritize His will above everything else, knowing that our time here is limited. This reminder from ashes has great significance in our lives and drives us to live life with greater intentionality.
“By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”
“You return man to dust and say, “Return, O children of man!” For a thousand years in your sight are but as yesterday when it is past, or as a watch in the night. You sweep them away as with a flood; they are like a dream, like grass that is renewed in the morning: in the morning it flourishes and is renewed; in the evening it fades and withers. For we are brought to an end by your anger; by your wrath we are dismayed.”
“All go to one place. All are from the dust, and to dust all return.”
“And the dust returns to the earth as it was, and the spirit returns to God who gave it.”
“All flesh would perish together, and man would return to dust.”
The Call to Humility
Ash Wednesday iis a day of humility, where we remember that we are not perfect and need God’s grace and mercy. To embrace this humility, we apply ashes on our forehead as a sign of our acknowledgment of our faults and shortcomings.
Through the act of applying ashes, we are reminded of the importance of approaching God with a spirit of contrition. We must acknowledge our imperfections and seek His forgiveness and guidance with humility. This reminder aligns with the core Christian value of humility, exemplified by Jesus Christ through his life and teachings.
As followers of Christ, we strive to live in His footsteps by embodying service, love, and placing a higher priority on others’ needs before our own. Humility is not just an Ash Wednesday practice but an essential characteristic that permeates Christian life and teachings.
“Is such the fast that I choose, a day for a person to humble himself? Is it to bow down his head like a reed, and to spread sackcloth and ashes under him? Will you call this a fast, and a day acceptable to the Lord? Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the straps of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke?”
“Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.”
“For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”
“But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.””
1 Peter 5:6-7
“Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.”
The Promise of Redemption
The tradition of putting ashes on our foreheads on Ash Wednesday serves as a valuable reminder of God’s promise of redemption through Jesus Christ. This promise assures us that no matter how much we have strayed away from God, we are never too far to be reached by His love and mercy.
Because of the sacrifice Jesus made for us on the cross, we are able to receive forgiveness for our sins and be reunited with God. This gives us hope and encouragement because no matter how broken or sinful we may be, the power of God’s love can transform us into whole individuals once again.
We see this theme of redemption demonstrated throughout the Bible in various stories about individuals who turned away from their sin and towards God. These people received His forgiveness and grace.
Therefore, as we join in repentance and application of ashes on Ash Wednesday, we remind ourselves about this promise of redemption. We are urged to approach God with humility and remorse, knowing that He is always welcoming with open arms.
“Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit.”
““Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool.”
“I, I am he who blots out your transgressions for my own sake, and I will not remember your sins.”
“We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.”
2 Corinthians 5:17
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”
Applying ashes on Ash Wednesday is a significant symbol that reminds us of our vulnerability and the need for forgiveness and redemption. The ashes serve as a wake-up call to turn to God with humility and an open mind while seeking His grace.
It is a reminder that our time here on earth is limited thus we must live a life of service. This practice encourages us to trust in Jesus Christ as we seek redemption from our sins.