We hear the term 40 days of Lent every year around this time. Let’s take a closer look at what this means in our lives and in the lives of our children.
The 40 days of Lent is a traditional celebration that goes back to the early Christians. The word Lent comes from an Anglo Saxon word for “spring.” Lent is the 40 days before Easter. It is a period of time for preparation of the spirit. Many Christians observe several days of fasting as part of the preparation leading up to Easter. The beginning of Christians fasting came during the second century. Fasting was considered inappropriate to be done on Sundays so the 40 days of Lent does not count Sundays. There are 46 days beginning with Wednesdays before Easter. (Brand, 2003).
The fasting is in remembrance of the 40 days of fasting that Jesus did in the wilderness. “Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil. And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was afterward an hungred.” (Matthew 4:1-2).
Lent is celebrated differently according to the denomination of churches. Lent is generally observed as a time of penance (or making amends) by abstaining from festivities, by almsgiving, and by devoting more than the usual time to religious exercises. The western churches in recent year’s place more emphasis on making amends for wrong doings, being more serious than festive and going to church more or reading the Bible than on physical fasting. (Cross, 2005).
There are two Biblical accounts used for the 40 days of Lent. There is the 40 years that the children of Israel wandered in the wilderness. The second account is the 40 days that Jesus was in the wilderness after His Baptism, before He began his ministry. Jesus had fasted (went without eating) and was tempted by satan.
The season of Lent is used to strengthen faith, get a closer relationship with Jesus Christ and to gain a stronger and more vital personal relationship through faith and gain understanding of our Lord Jesus Christ.
You may know of people who struggle to “give up something for Lent.” It might be candy or some bad habit and replace it with a good act instead. This is still practiced by the Catholics but most of the Protestant denominations do not follow the practice today. My family studies the parables weekly until Holy week.
Holy week refers to the last week Jesus walked this earth. It begins with Palm Sunday when Jesus arrived in Jerusalem and was revered as a King. It leads to the cross on Good Friday and then His glorious Resurrection on Easter Sunday.
Lent is the time when many churches make preparation for new people to be welcome into their church and the baptism of those accepting Christ. Lent symbolizes the self-sacrifice that Jesus Christ made for us. It is a time of preparation just like Jesus did in the wilderness. He was preparing for His ministry.
When the children of Israel were led from Egypt to the Promised Land, they refused to go in because they did not trust the promise of the LORD God. Because of their lack of trust and obedience in the LORD they were led into the desert for forty years, until they learned the trust and obedience they lacked. During this time, all the ones that had refused to cross the Jordan River died. This was the way the LORD God purified His people. (Exodus 16).
It rained for 40 days and 40 nights in the days of Noah. The flooding washed away the evil that has contaminated and poisoned the world. Just like sin has contaminated and poisoned our body. It takes Jesus Christ to cleanse us like the flood did in the day of Noah.
Matthew 4:2 tells us “And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was afterward an hungred.” When Jesus entered the wilderness or desert, He left behind all the expectations of others, all the hopes, all the illusions and relied on the inner teachings of His Heavenly Father. It was just Jesus and the Father, in the Holy Spirit. It was there Jesus was tempted of satan and it was there He defeated satan. Jesus did it by the very Word of God. This teaches us it is through the Cross and Resurrection that we can defeat evil in our lives.
We have an opportunity to hear the Voice of Jesus through the writings in the Bible. We need to take these 40 days to gain insight into our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. You can begin today and read the parables that Jesus told. We need to explore the Bible so we can prepare of hearts and lives His Second coming.
Brand, C., Draper, C., England, A., et al., (2003). Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary. Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers. P. 1025.
Cross, F. L. and Livingstone, Elizabeth A., (2005). The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church, 3rd ed. rev. Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press. pp 971-72.
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MLA Style Citation:
Holstein, Joanne “What is the 40 days of Lent? .” Becker Bible Studies Library Oct 2014.< https://guidedbiblestudies.com/?p=1400,>.
APA Style Citation:
Holstein, Joanne (2014, October) “What is the 40 days of Lent? .” Becker Bible Studies Library. Retrieved from https://guidedbiblestudies.com/?p=1400,.
Chicago Style Citation:
Holstein, Joanne (2014) “What is the 40 days of Lent? .” Becker Bible Studies Library (October), https://guidedbiblestudies.com/?p=1400, (accessed).