The celebration and observation of Easter is just over the horizon—an opportunity for us to gather with the church to celebrate the hope we have in our risen Savior, Jesus. However, with busy schedules, work, and extracurricular activities that often crowd our lives, many of us will sadly end up coasting through the days leading up to Easter and moving on to the next thing on the calendar. That is, unless we take time to intentionally focus and orient our rhythms and hearts leading up to Easter. What if we choose to say “no” to certain things so we can say “yes” to something better? What if we reorient our hearts in this season to focus on Jesus, our sin, his journey toward Jerusalem, and ultimately the cross?
This is the purpose of Lent.
Luke 9:51 says, “When the days drew near for him to be taken up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem.” Jesus set his face toward enduring the cross in obedience to the Father’s will and his love for us. During Lent, we have an opportunity to likewise set our faces toward Jesus’ journey to the cross.
The season of Lent takes place during the forty days (excluding Sundays) leading up to Easter and begins on Ash Wednesday. The forty days are significant, reflecting Israel’s forty years in the wilderness and Jesus’ forty days fasting in the wilderness. Lent, like other seasons of the Liturgical Calendar, gives the church an opportunity to immerse ourselves in the greater story of Jesus and His church. This is typically marked by the giving up or fasting from something to intentionally fix our eyes on Jesus. Just as in the Advent season we meditate on the incredible incarnation of Jesus, Lent leads us once again to pause and dwell on the days leading up to Jesus’ death, burial, and glorious resurrection.
Before we go any further, we want to be clear that observing Lent is not necessary or required for followers of Jesus. We do not gain or lose favor in the sight of God by participating or not participating. For those who profess faith in Jesus, our status before God was and is secured by Jesus’ sacrifice alone.
Lent is often reduced to merely giving something up. However, if we give things up without any thought, direction, or intentionality, we are left with nothing more than the temporary satisfaction of our accomplishment rather than our souls being nourished. Instead of simply giving something up, Lent calls us to intentionally fill that space by reflecting on the cross. We are not just fasting from something; we are feasting on the Word of God through prayer, confession, and repentance. When we fast, let us “set our minds on things above” (Colossians 3:2).
As we approach the Lenten season this Wednesday, may we be a people humbly in awe of Jesus’ journey to his death. May our hearts be prepared to receive what he desires to teach us, ready to grieve, confess, repent, and rejoice in the risen Savior, King Jesus.
Questions for Reflection
- Spend a few minutes reflecting on what Lent and Easter typically look like for you. What comes to mind when you think of Lent? Do you struggle with feeling apathetic towards Easter? Share those thoughts with the Lord in prayer.
- Ask God what he might have you fast from in this season of Lent and share that with a friend or family member. Ideas include social media, watching tv, a specific food, etc.
- Consider how you will feast on Jesus during Lent and ask the Holy Spirit to draw your heart towards God.
“Lord God, in this season of Lent
We look forward to our remembrance of Jesus’ death
and our celebration of his resurrection.
We pray that your Spirit will renew in us today
our anticipation for these events
and our awareness that Jesus’ death and resurrection
are a sure source of hope and life.
In the power of Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.”
– From The Worship Sourcebook