The Startling Truth About Ashes and Jesus' Sacrifice

Last week's Ash Wednesday service profoundly changed how I view ashes in light of Jesus' sacrifice.

Upon entering the sanctuary, I received the cross-shaped smudge of ashes on my forehead. If you've ever received ashes, you know how hard it is to remove them later.

Ashes are much different than dust. In the Old Testament, God gathered dust to create Adam. In the New Testament, Jesus added water to dust and created mud to heal a blind man's sight. Mud washes off with ease.

But ashes are entirely different.

When ashes are mixed with water, they just smear. Because ashes seep into our pores. They become embedded.

No wonder ashes are synonymous with sin. We can't just wash them off with water.

It takes something much stronger.

When Jesus hung on the cross, He was first offered wine and myrrh. The wine would have been sweet, and myrrh contained anesthetic qualities. Together, they would have taken the edge off of Jesus' suffering. But He refused them. 

Later, after Jesus knew He had fulfilled all that God sent Him to accomplish, He said from the cross, "I thirst." The guards soaked a sponge in vinegar and gall and offered it to Jesus. He accepted and ingested it. 

You see, vinegar removes ashes.

Try it. It seeps under the skin to remove the stain that water only smears.

Jesus' sacrifice on the cross proved to be the vinegar that would remove the ashes of sin from every believer's soul. 

After we received Christ's body and blood during communion, our church's elders used vinegar-soaked sponges to remove the ashes from our foreheads that were placed there when we entered the sanctuary. 

As I left that service, I felt clean -- not because a smudge had been erased from my forehead.

But because Jesus' immeasurable love and sacrifice removed the sin smudge from our very souls for eternity.

I will never view ashes, vinegar or Jesus' sacrifice the same again.



  1. Love this post today and I will never view ashes in the same way after this. Thank you for sharing this Donna. Hugs and blessings, Cindy

    1. The symbolism was so very powerful, Cindy. Hugs back! :)

  2. Thank you! I will never view the ashes the same way again. I struggled with accepting the ashes, but next year will be different.

    1. Susan, that is wonderful to hear. Ashes now remind me of what Jesus did to remove them eternally.

  3. Donna, is it alright if I share this with the women at our LWML retreat this weekend? It adds to the symbolism of ashes, and I would like to share it with them with your permission.

    1. Absolutely, please share it. The symbolism is powerful and adds to our understanding of what Jesus accomplished for us on the cross. Blessings as you gather this weekend!