Summary: Lent starts with Ash Wednesday. The idea of observing lent is to come very closer to Lord Jesus Christ. Not what you don't eat will not matter but what you leave matters.
Follow Me - John 1:43-51
Lent is a period of fasting and abstinence from meat and repentance contemplating one’s transgressions. The first council of Nicaea in AD 325 brought this tradition.
On Ash Wednesday the Ashes made out of the Palm leaves taken in the previous year Palm Sunday is being used and marked a cross sign on the foreheads of the believers with this word, "Remember, man, that thou art dust, and to dust thou shalt return." It was proclaimed by Pope Gregory I (AD.540). Then it was changed with the words, “Repent and Believe in the Gospel” by Roman Catholic church in 1969.
2007 many major denominations took the ashes to the market places and used them as means of evangelism, ‘Go Program’. Clergy carries the Ashes and calls people for repentance, those who respond will be marked with ashes. Biblical aspects of ashes are recorded in 2 Sam. 13:19, Job 42:3-6, Jer. 6:26, Dan. 9:3. Nu.19:9, Jonah 3:6, Es.4:1.
Moses fasted forty days and nights for the sins of Israel (Ex.34:27-28). Jesus fasted forty days and nights in wilderness (Mt.4:1-11, Mk.1:12-13, Lk.4:1-13). Neither Jesus nor the new testament saints used Ashes during fasting and prayer because the new covenant calls us to cleanse out conscience than the bodily hurts (Heb. 9:13-14, Rm.2:15).
The purpose of our lent observation is to keep our conscience clear before God and man (Ac.24:16).
Discipleship is not forced one but voluntary act. It’s not a command but an open call. Gospels are having many call narratives. Jesus calls Andrew, Philip, John and all other apostles. Jesus called each of his disciples at various occasions. Some were called while they were mending their fishing nets. Some were called when they were busy with their government jobs (Mt.9:9). Some were called when they were jobless (Mk.1:16-20).
Stories after stories we see in the Bible how God called many of the prophets, judges, kings and apostles. God’s call is recorded in several epistle, such as, Romans 8:30; Ephesians 4:4; Romans 11:29 God’s call and gifts are irrevocable.
Jesus laid the precondition for discipleship was to leave everything (Lk.14:33). Levi left everything (Lk.5:28). Peter asked a question to Jesus in Mathew 19:26 ‘we have left everything to follow you! What then will there be for us?’
Those who struggled to leave everything were denied to follow him. Ex., rich young man, rich fool.
The benefits of following Jesus Christ:
Placed in a Higher responsibility and
Entering and Inheriting the KOG.
1. “Follow Jesus” to be a peaceful person
The calling of God leads to have peace with God (Colossians 3:15). Peace with God only through our Lord Jesus Christ (Rm.5:1). Our transgressions and iniquities brought wrath of God upon Jesus (Is.53:5). Paul preached the good news of Peace (Ac.10:36). The bible verses are fresh every day, the reading of those verses makes us to understand that “Come to me all who are thirsty and hunger” (Is.55:1), “come to me all you who are weary and heavy laden, I will give you rest” (Mt.11:28).
Job.22:21 Submit to God and be at peace with HIM, in this way prosperity will come to you.
Though Jesus was without a place to stay, a bed to rest or a man without home or permanent residence. But he never expected his followers to become like him in all aspects. His promise surprises us that his followers would be blessed hundredfold in this age and in the age to come, eternal life (Mt.19:29, Lk. 18:30).
Abraham had enormous wealth, sheep, cattle, silver, gold and servants (Gen.13:6, 24:35). Isaac had hundredfold blessings (Gen.26:12). Jacob had huge properties (Gen.33:11). God gave Canaan to Israelites.
2. “Follow Jesus” to be a witness
The precondition for a witness is to be with Christ (Jn.15:27). Ac.1:8 calls us to be a witness for Jesus in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and to the ends of the earth. Isa 43:10 says ‘you are my witnesses’. Witness about the full new life in Christ (Ac.5:20). You will be witness to all men (Ac.22:15).
3. “Follow Jesus” to inherit Kingdom of God
Philippians 3:14 says that we are called to win the prize; 2 Thessalonians 2:14 says that we are called to share the glory of Lord Jesus Christ; 1 Timothy 6:12 says that we are called to eternal life. 2 Peter 1:10 make your calling sure and wait for the welcome to the eternal kingdom. Gain Christ is important (Phil.3:8).
Jesus promised the Kingdom of God to those who follow the footsteps of Jesus. (Read) 1 Peter 2:19-24 says that we follow in his steps.
He walked to the Jordan to be baptised, he walked to the wilderness to be tempted, he walked to the sea of Galilee to make disciples, he walked to the Bethesda to heal the sick man, he walked to the temple to worship and read the word of God, ascertain his calling and proclaim his mission, he walked to Samaria to bring the outcasts, he walked to Jerusalem to cleanse the temple and, he walked to Golgotha to give his life on the CROSS as ransom for many.