Lent is the season which leads up to Easter. It begins on Ash Wednesday and ends on Holy Saturday. It lasts forty days, not counting Sunday’s. The word ‘Lent’ comes from the Anglo Saxon word ‘lencten’ which means spring.
The number forty is significant in scripture. We find it repeated on many occasions.
- Noah and his family were on board the ark for forty days
- Moses spent forty days at the top of Mount Sinai, before descending with the words of God’s covenant to the Israelites
- Elijah fasted in the desert for forty days
- After fleeing Egypt the Israelites would spend forty years in the desert before arriving in the Promised Land
- Forty is the number of days Jesus spent in the wilderness, fasting and being tempted
The original audience of Matthew’s gospel were Jews who had begun to follow in the way of Jesus. Matthew reminds them of their heritage by connecting the time Jesus spent fasting in the wilderness to may of the other sojourns that the Israelites had experienced.
Just as Jesus fasted for forty days, many people today equate the season of Lent as a time when something should be relinquished or given up. Often this is a token sacrifice, a time spent not eating chocolate or drinking alcohol. Originally, the purpose of giving something up for Lent had a spiritual element to it. It was to directly acknowledge what Jesus had endured and to prepare Christians for the events of Good Friday and ultimately the resurrection on Easter morning.
Text: Matthew 4: 1-11
Questions for Sunday
- What are you giving up for Lent?
Prayer for Sunday
Holy and eternal God, as I enter this holy season of Lent I pray that my actions would be reflective of your will. May I be aware of your presence in my life. In Jesus name, Amen.