The death and resurrection of Jesus Christ are at the heart of the Christian gospel. The forty days of Lent are a season of preparation and repentance during which we anticipate Good Friday and Easter. Next to Christmas, they are two of the most significant celebrations of the Christian calendar. Just as we carefully prepare for big events in our personal lives, Lent invites us to make our hearts ready for remembering Jesus’s passion and celebrating His resurrection.
So what and when is Lent?
Lent is a season of the Christian calendar when Christians focus on simple living, prayer, and fasting in order to grow closer to God.
It’s the forty-days period before Easter excluding Sundays.
Apart from Roman Catholics, Lent is mostly observed by the Lutheran, Methodist, Presbyterian and Anglican denominations. While the Bible does not mention the custom of Lent, the practice of repentance and mourning in ashes is found in 2 Samuel 13:19; Esther 4:1; Job 2:8; Daniel 9:3; and Matthew 11: 21.
Likewise, the word “Easter” does not appear in the Bible and no early church celebrations of Christ’s resurrection are mentioned in Scripture. Easter, like Christmas, is a tradition that developed later in church history.
Though the Bible made no mention of Lent, but when we reverently and humbly observe this 40 day period we can be led to deeply appreciate and own again the crucifixion and resurrection as our salvation story. And these events are preceded by one significant “makan session”. Profound teachings, a rich range of emotions and new revelation about the Holy Spirit, and God’s eternal redemption plan. Over supper.
It was in a borrowed or rented room atop some shop or dwelling that the 12 disciples had their last pre-resurrection encounter with Jesus. 13 persons, 1 Passover meal in close proximity, within 24 hours. Jesus knew He would soon undergo an unimaginable deluge of sufferings. Spat upon and mocked by the Pharisees, He would bear the sins of all men. Cursed and abandoned by God, His attention is still on the needs of others. He showed His followers He is the One who has overcome the world.
During those final hours before Jesus’ betrayal, in what was later known as the Upper Room Discourse, He gave His disciples, and consequently all believers throughout history – His parting promises, and last will and testament as recorded in John 13-16. Lessons on humility, foretelling of His betrayal, words of comfort, relationship of followers as being branches to the vine, promise of the Holy Spirit. Indeed a rich storehouse of spiritual blessings given to every believer in Christ. His legacy, bequeathed to the Church.
As we ponder over these events aided by the reflective reading of John 13~16, let us be encouraged and be equipped for His service and sanctification and shine as lights in the world.
Deacon Henry Leong