Summary: Why should we take time apart before Easter? What is the purpose of Lent?
Why should we take time apart before Easter? What is the purpose of Lent?
Let’s see the value of quiet times apart for prayer, fasting, meditation and reflection.
Let’s look briefly at Jesus’ wilderness experience before beginning His ministry, in Mark 1:9-15.
Mark 1:9-11 It came to pass in those days that Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee, and was baptized by John in the Jordan. 10 And immediately, coming up from the water, He saw the heavens parting and the Spirit descending upon Him like a dove. 11 Then a voice came from heaven, “You are My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”
Why is the Holy Spirit pictured as a dove? It could mean any columbine, a dove or pigeon. Noah sent a dove to see if it was safe (Genesis 8:8-12). Similarly the Holy Spirit tells us if things are safe for us. Spiritually, we fly away on the wings of a dove to find rest (Psalm 55:6). Marital love is undefiled like a dove (Song 5:2; 6:9) and God sends His love to us in the Holy Spirit. A dove is harmless (Matthew 10:16) and the Holy Spirit brings us no harm. Where will He lead us?
Mark 1:12 Immediately the Spirit drove Him into the wilderness.
Are wilderness times good? The Holy Spirit leads us into solitary places to rest and prepare us for greater events to come. Does Jesus’ wilderness experience in the Judean outback teach us about down times? It’s time to slow down and wait for the mighty hand of God. As God was with the Patriarchs and Jesus let’s relax and await His revelation for the next step. What did Jesus do in His wilderness experience?
Mark 1:13 And He was there in the wilderness forty days, tempted by Satan, and was with the wild beasts; and the angels ministered to Him.
Compare this to Noah’s forty days of rain, Israel’s forty years of wandering, Moses’ forty days on Sinai, forty days of scouting the Land, forty years of peace under several righteous judges, forty days of mocking by Goliath, Elijah’s forty days in the wilderness, and forty days between Jesus’ Resurrection and Ascension. Many Christians follow Isaiah’s admonitions during Lent (Isaiah 58).
Mark 1:14 Now after John was put in prison, Jesus came to Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, 15 and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.”
What does “at hand” mean? The kingdom of God is both future and now, both here and almost here. We allow God to change our hearts and trust His sovereignty. We become citizens of heaven before we get there, as we submit to His loving authority. How do we complete the journey home? Jesus is the way. When entering a new country of this world, we go through an immigration gate. Jesus is our gateway.
What did Jesus mean by repentance? Repent of immorality (Revelation 2:21), repent of impurity (2 Corinthians 12:21), repent and be baptized (Acts 2:38), repent and turn to God (Acts 3:19), repent of wickedness (Acts 8:22), be zealous and repent (Revelation 3:19), demonstrate repentance by our deeds (Acts 26:20), repent and believe (Mark 1:15), repent at the preaching (Matthew 12:41; Luke 11:32), repent of our deeds (Revelation 16:11), repent and give God glory (Revelation 16:9).
Laws cannot make us free. They make us slaves (Galatians 4:21-31). Moses' law makes us sinners (Romans 5:20-21). Human law controls evil (1 Timothy 1:8-11) but fails to change hearts. Laws cannot cover every loophole. Where law fails, only a change of heart (repentance) and a belief in the Gospel of Jesus Christ can grant us freedom.
As Jesus took 40 days for time apart to prepare for His earthly mission, let us take the forty days of Lent to rededicate our lives to God.
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.