The  English word Lent is a shortened form of the old English word lencten, meaning “spring season”.  Lent is 40 days long, not including Sundays (that means the season is technically 46 days long). The fact that it’s 40 days has significance.  The number 40 has always had special spiritual significance in fact it is mentioned 146 times regarding preparation … most importantly, Jesus fasted and prayed for 40 days and 40 nights in the desert before He began His public ministry (Matthew 4:2).  Also reminding us of the flooding rains for 40 days and 40 nights of Noah’s time (Genesis 7:17-19), Israel wandering in the wilderness for 40 years during the Exodus (Joshua 5:6).  Moses was on Mount Sinai 40 days and 40 nights receiving the 10 Commandments (Exodus 34:22) and Goliath taunted Israel’s army 40 days before David killed him (1 Samuel 17:16)

The Season of Lent

Lent is the period between Ash Wednesday and Holy Week. Holy Week starts Palm Sunday and ends with Easter the holiest day of the year that marks the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.  The period is marked by solemnity and contemplation.  Lent is a period of grief and Christians typically fast and sacrifice certain things during this time in preparation for Easter.  The word “alleluia”, which is a joyful exclamation, is taken out of the liturgy during this time.  Lent did not begin in biblical times.  Lent became a tradition in the fourth century AD.  Interestingly, such a date would place the beginning of Lent in the same year as the Council of Nicaea, which was a major historical church council that affirmed the deity of Christ.   Athanasius, the defender of Jesus’ deity during the controversy with Arius, which prompted the Council of Nicaea, mentioned the observance of Lent as a 40-day period of fasting in one of his Easter letters.   One biblical example of Lent is Matthew 9:15 where Jesus explains that the disciples will fast once He is gone, not while He is still with them.  The period that Christ is referring to is the time after His crucifixion.  In discussing that sorrowful time, Jesus said, “Very truly I tell you, you will weep and mourn while the world rejoices.  You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy” (John 16:20, NIV)  So with you: Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy. (John 16:22, NIV)