Of all the religious festivals in existence the two that are the farthest apart philosophically occur at the same time of the year and revolve around the same event. Mardi Gras (literally “Fat Tuesday”) is the raucous holiday preceding Lent. Since Lent represents 40 days of sacrifice leading up to the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ, Mardi Gras became the “last fling” of Christian people about to descend into a period of self-denial. Although begun more seriously in the Middle Ages, it has long since taken on a life of its own as a carnival given over to sensual indulgence in all of its forms.
Passover, on the other hand, was a deadly serious festival from the beginning. It celebrated the deliverance of God’s people from slavery and the beginning of a new nation. It was never forgotten that this was accomplished through death: the death of the Passover Lamb and the many deaths occurring when the Death Angel “passed over” the houses of the Israelites and struck every home of the Egyptians. The ultimate fulfillment of Passover was seen in the Lord’s Supper as the celebration of the Passover Lamb—Jesus Christ—and His death and deliverance from sin.
How then did we ever get from the celebration of the death and resurrection of Christ to its opposite “Fat Tuesday”? The answer to that question is seen in the gulf that exists between God’s view of our salvation in Jesus Christ and the view of sinful man. We insist upon seeing our faith as a thing that deprives us. The key word here is “sacrifice.” Somehow our passage into faith is seen as devoid of fun and filled with pain. But God sees exactly the opposite: as a rescue mission delivering us from certain death and presenting us with Eternal Life. That is why Jesus said, “There is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” (Luke 15:10).
The view that most nearly represents our concept of the Christian life has a lot to say about where we are in our progress toward Christian maturity. Join us this Sunday as we attempt to celebrate again that life which is ours through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on our behalf.
Senior Pastor of Cactus Christian Fellowship