The word Lent (from Latin, meaning fortieth) is the forty days from Ash Wednesday to Easter Sunday. Throughout the Bible the number forty is significant: forty days of rain for Noah and his family; forty years Israel spent in the wilderness; forty days Jesus fasted and faced temptation in the wilderness; forty days Jesus spent on earth after his resurrection, and so on. These are often times of testing and preparation.
During Lent we prepare ourselves to discover afresh the death and resurrection of Jesus. It is traditionally a time when we consciously consider our own sinfulness. The truth is that we now too easily connect sin with eating unhealthily rather than something that is the deadly enemy of our very being (1 Peter 2:11). Christian writer Graham Tomlin suggests that sin has ‘changed from a Rottweiler to a Poodle.’ But as we contemplate how messed up our lives are in relation to our perfect and holy God, we do so without fear and guilt.
Lent is ultimately about enabling the good news of Jesus Christ making its way deeper into our lives. It is a journey to the cross where we look to Jesus as our saviour, and then on to the empty grave where we celebrate his victory over sin and death.
Whether you give up something or not, can I encourage you to spend some time this Lent directing your heart to God and deepening your understanding of the events of Holy Week.