What Is Lent?

What Is Lent?

We will read the Gospel of Mathew, chapter four, verses one to two, “Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And he fasted forty days and forty nights, and afterward he was hungry.” (Mathew 4:1-2.)

Lent is forty days leading up to the celebration of the resurrection of Jesus, which is “Easter.” The length of Lent represents the forty days Jesus spent fasting in the wilderness before beginning His ministry.  The question that always comes to our minds is, why did Jesus fast? The Gospel says that after Jesus’ baptism, He was Led by the Holy Spirit to go into the wilderness to be tempted by Satan. Jesus fasted to confront the temptation of Satan. He wants to teach us that fasting is one of our most essential weapons in spiritual warfare and our battle with Satan. We can notice that Satan’s first temptation to Jesus revolved around life and death. Satan the tempter came to Jesus, who was fasting and hungry. He said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.” The word “to become bread” here means that Satan was tempting Jesus with His need for earthly bread to live and not die. But Jesus answered him and said, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.” Hence, we see Christ’s victory over Satan’s temptation by declaring to him that man’s life is not only dependent on earthly bread, which he can control, but depends primarily on the life of God and His living word, which he cannot control. So, the main goal of fasting is not to change one type of food with another or abstain from eating for several hours, but to replace the earthly bread with the living bread, that is to say, to feed and nourish on the living word of God that is full of His life and love. And man’s life and his survival is not dependent on earthly bread, but on God, the source of life. Satan’s temptation to Jesus was the first confrontation between the spirit of death which is Satan’s spirit and the eternal life which is the life of Jesus, which has resulted in the triumph of Jesus’ life over Satan’s death. So, the purpose of Lent, that is to say fasting, is to draw closer to God through prayer, repentance, and self-examination.  During Lent, many Christians give up certain indulgences as a form of self-discipline and penance. It is a time to open the doors of our hearts and let the life of Jesus dwells in us in the Holy Spirit.  We seek God's forgiveness, accept his love and mercy, repent and turn from our sins. Prayer also is a significant focus during this time. It is a time of spiritual renewal and reflection in preparation for celebrating the resurrection of Jesus.

The other question which most people ask is, why did Jesus fast for forty days and not fifty or sixty? The Early Church Fathers answered this question by saying that forty days is when a person can live without food but with water. But Jesus stayed without food and water; how? They answered that the divinity had preserved the humanity of Christ from perishing. We know that His divinity did not leave His humanity for a single moment, not even in the blink of an eye, as we declare in the faith decree.  Jesus said in the Gospel of Mathew, chapter seventeen, verse twenty-one, “this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting.” Amen



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