LENT BIBLICAL AND SPIRITUAL
© Carlos Padilla – Easter 2021 – 14 Nissan Passover 5781
Lent is a Christian preparation time prior to Passover or Easter. Some common practices are prayer, fasting, abstinence, confession to God, consideration of our Christian life, to which traditions add penitence. The focus of the message is different if we see from the Bible or from tradition. The word Lent just means spring, but the Latin term cuadragesima meaning 40 is used in the Latin Church for the 40 days of Lent, that period of time from Ash Wednesday, symbolizing the preparation to remember the passion of Christ, how He gave Himself to die for our sins, defeat the devil and death, raise to give us faith in the hope of eternal life through His forgiveness of our sins, an anoint us with the power of the Holy Spirit to fulfil the Great Commission of making disciples until He returns in His kingdom in the end of days. The main days are Palm Sunday, Holy or Good Friday and Resurrection or Easter Sunday. But, is Lent Biblical and Spiritual, or just a tradition? Continue reading…
7 KEY EVENTS OF THE BIBLICAL AND SPIRITUAL LENT
The triumphal entry of Jesus in Jerusalem, on Palm Sunday, began at Mount of Olives, at which foothills was the orchard of Gethsemane. “…And the multitudes who went before and those who followed cried out, saying: “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!” Matthew 21:1-11. This same thing we must say when we know Jesus – Yahshua and when we receive Him as Saviour. For those who have done it, let us remember that one day He called us to salvation, and He remains with us, as if we were a Jerusalem of the soul, into which He entered as King of kings.
The cleansing of the Temple, is our own purification. We must see ourselves in the mirror of this action of Jesus when He entered in what He called “My Father’s house” because He said: It is written, “My house shall be called a house of prayer, but you have made it a den of thieves”. Matthew 21:12-13. From this point, Jesus links others teachings and accusations against the unbelieving Jews, like the cursing of the sterile fig tree, the wicked vinedressers, the wedding feast, the tax, the question about the resurrection, and His accusation to scribes and Pharisees. But, is our soul that spiritual Temple which Jesus calls “My Father’s house”, from where we can fulfil the great commandment to love God over all, and our neighbour like ourselves? Matthew 22:34-40.
The coming of the Son of Man, Jesus laments over Jerusalem, the signs or the times and the end of the age, the parable of the ten virgins, the parable of the talents, the judgment to the nations, anointed in Bethany, Judas betrayal. Matthew 24 reminds us that the end comes, that Jesus will return for us, alive or raised dead, will go with Him before the final judgment, we have hope and let the world know. Let us be wise like the five virgins who filled their lamps with oil, we likewise must have oil in our souls, where through anointing the oil comes to give light to the world from the Holy Spirit.
The Holy Supper, Peter’s denial, prayer in Gethsemane, Jesus arrest, Pontius Pilate, before the council. Matthew 26 reminds us that Jesus commanded that we should have the bread and the wine until He returns, and we shall have it new in His kingdom. Let’s celebrate Jesus death and resurrection always, until His return and pray, like in Gethsemane.
The crucifixion of Jesus, buried, the tomb open. Matthew 27:32-66. Let us carry our cross in the yoke of Christ. We deserved that cross on Calvary; we should die at Golgotha, for our sins, but our beloved Lord, the only one, whose blood could clean us from sin, being holy, being God, and being our only High Priest without sin, the only one that could save us through the eternal justice, through His grace, by the faith in His work. Those of us who believe in resurrection, not only of Jesus, but of the people, just and unjust, we know that Christ lives and returns, Revelation 1:7. ¡Only to Him be the glory!
Jesus resurrection, the report of the guard, the great commission, to make disciples of all nations. Matthew 28. ¡Glory to God in the highest! Christ lives, raised and no one could stop it, lived again physically and came out of the sepulchre. If we really believe that Jesus lives, has raised and returns, that we must preach, and with this make disciples of all nations, in that process that begins and does not finish, of the progressive sanctification of the believer, the capacitating, anointing and calling to serve Jesus, the church and the world.
If a person is Christian, I believe it will agree to participate in this remembrance and hope of such a time that our Lord Jesus lived, died, raised and ascended for us, each year in the time of Lent, in a Biblical and spiritual way.
BRIEF HISTORY OR LENT
From century II A.D. Christianity practices a time or preparation to participate in the week of the passion of Christ, through prayer, fasting and abstinence. In century IV, Athanasius and other ante-Nicene and post-Nicene fathers, in the first Council of Nicaea, year 325, they established 40 days previous of fasting and abstinence (Sundays do not count), in memory of the 40 days that Jesus remained in the desert overcoming the temptation of Satan, before initiating His public ministry. Also Moses spent 40 days in Sinai, and then 40 years Israel was in the desert. Deuteronomy 16 tells or an instituted time of sanctification prior to Passover for the Jewish community, preparation of the food, the unleavened breads, and study of Exodus, even in times of Jesus. Since then, the church in almost all its denominations continues to celebrate a period of sanctification and coming closer to God. In our times some evangelical churches continue with that tradition, and others don’t, but every Christian in one way or another, when the week of the passion of Christ is near, Easter, feels as coming closer and a warm loving towards the sanctity of His Saviour, who came to die on the cross in Calvary to pay for our sins, raise and give us eternal live, through faith in His work.
From Resurrection Sunday, the joy and worship mix up with the faith that we know Jesus will return to take His beloved church to His kingdom for eternity. The dead in Christ will rise first, and His living disciples together with the holy raised, will be taken to heaven, 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18.
Ash Wednesday, although is the same day which begins the period already established, receives this name from the traditional practices of the Middle Ages, and some link it to pagan practices related to carnival or death, but not Christianity who inherits it from the dust and ashes and sackcloth to seek for God’s forgiveness. There is a Biblical Text which is said to have influenced the practice, where Prophet Daniel 9:3 links ashes with penitence and death:
And I set my face unto the Lord God, to seek by prayer and supplications, with fasting, and sackcloth, and ashes: 4 And I prayed unto the Lord my God, and made my confession, and said, O Lord, the great and dreadful God, keeping the covenant and mercy to them that love him, and to them that keep his commandments; 5 We have sinned, and have committed iniquity, and have done wickedly, and have rebelled, even by departing from thy precepts and from thy judgments: 6 Neither have we hearkened unto thy servants the prophets, which spake in thy name to our kings, our princes, and our fathers, and to all the people of the land. 7 O Lord, righteousness belongeth unto thee, but unto us confusion of faces, as at this day; to the men of Judah, and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and unto all Israel, that are near, and that are far off, through all the countries whither thou hast driven them, because of their trespass that they have trespassed against thee. 8 O Lord, to us belongeth confusion of face, to our kings, to our princes, and to our fathers, because we have sinned against thee… …14 Therefore hath the Lord watched upon the evil, and brought it upon us: for the Lord our God is righteous in all his works which he doeth: for we obeyed not his voice… …17 Now therefore, O our God, hear the prayer of thy servant, and his supplications, and cause thy face to shine upon thy sanctuary that is desolate, for the Lord’s sake. 18 O my God, incline thine ear, and hear; open thine eyes, and behold our desolations, and the city which is called by thy name: for we do not present our supplications before thee for our righteousnesses, but for thy great mercies. 19 O Lord, hear; O Lord, forgive; O Lord, hearken and do; defer not, for thine own sake, O my God: for thy city and thy people are called by thy name.
Daniel continues, after this impacting and actual, Text, with the Prophecy of the Seventy Weeks of Daniel. You can read about this matter in Biblical Studies in this web.
Lent is not a time to seek for salvation for those who have already received Christ as Saviour, if one is born again from the Spirit of God. It is not a teaching of Jesus that His disciples believe that the salvation that they already believed they must continue seeking and earning through their efforts, penitence, fasting and abstinences, like some traditional churches teach, for which the Word of God, the teaching of Jesus Christ – Yahshua it is not their doctrinal or living rule, but their traditions, like the scribes and Pharisees. Jesus said that who fasted should anoint his head not to show anyone it is fasting, but to the father, Who is in Heaven, Matthew 6.16.
Lent, therefore, can be observed by any born again Christian, in the understanding that this is a time or prayer, fasting (which does not have to be food only), confession to God, Biblical study, preparation and reflexion about our Christian life, works for the love of God and of the neighbour, as a good Samaritan, family and social life. All this experience prior to Easter brings us closer to Jesus and to our neighbour in Christ and is instrument for the Great Commission of making disciples. In fact many protestant churches continue to celebrate it today, and many evangelicals who do not know the Biblical liturgical calendar, are seeking it, like other practices that bring us closer to the heart of Jesus who lives. “Ashes to ashes and dust to dust”, Genesis 3:19, but, who believes in the Son of God has eternal life, John 3:35-36. Resurrection comes and every eye shall see Him, Revelation 1:7. Pray, fast, abstain for the Lord, observe Palm Sunday, the Passion of Christ, and Resurrection Sunday, in your heart and share it with your family, with your church and with the world, because Christ is returning. ¡God bless you!