Lent is derived from the forty days of fasting and temptation Christ endured in the Wilderness. This forty-motif is found throughout Scripture: forty days and nights of rain in the Deluge; forty years of wandering in the Wilderness. This is a time of testing and preparation before a new phase of God’s work. A new world was born from the Flood with new patriarchs: Shem, Ham, and Japheth. A new nation emerged from the wilderness wanderings: Israel. Armed with faith in their covenant-God, they took the land of Canaan and destroyed the giants.
Christ emerged from His time of testing ready to preach the Gospel. In fulfilment of John the Baptist’s prophecy, John decreased and Christ increased. These words also serve as a symbol for our own lives, as my mentor told me years ago. Let John the Baptist represent the old man – we are baptised, a symbol of our new birth, and the old man dies as we walk towards the resurrection. The new man, represented by Christ, grows as we walk towards the resurrection – to His image we are being conformed. But we must pass first through the wilderness, and then past the mockers, and then to the Cross – the day of darkness. After the night comes the day, Easter Sunday, life from death.
As we pass through these forty days, we will all have personal reflections – but there are also global ones. The Church has passed through suffering before, and it passes through suffering now. Easter has come, and it will come again. As He rose from the dead, so we will be raised by Him on the last day.
Following Easter came the breaking of a fast on the shares of Lake Gennesaret. Christ and His followers had a time of fellowship, face-to-face. So we look forward to the Marriage Supper of the Lamb. As we gaze ahead to Easter this year, let us also look to coming of the new world. As the martyrs die, let us remember that they will be raised imperishable – His resurrection is the promise of life from the dead.