The time of Lent is upon us. Celebrating the season of Lent is still fairly new to me. I used to think that it was something only Catholics did, but when I joined a Methodist Church I was delightfully introduced to the celebration. While I no longer attend a Methodist church, I continue to celebrate the season as it has become an integral part of my faith and helps draw me closer to God.
Some of you may not be familiar with the season of lent, so here is a short synopsis taken from the United Methodist Church:
Lent is a season of forty days, not counting Sundays, which begins on Ash Wednesday and ends on Holy Saturday. Lent comes from the Anglo Saxon word lencten, which means “spring.” The forty days represents the time Jesus spent in the wilderness, enduring the temptation of Satan and preparing to begin his ministry.
Lent is a time of repentance, fasting and preparation for the coming of Easter. It is a time of self-examination and reflection. In the early church, Lent was a time to prepare new converts for baptism. Today, Christians focus on their relationship with God, often choosing to give up something or to volunteer and give of themselves for others.
Sundays in Lent are not counted in the forty days because each Sunday represents a “mini-Easter” and the reverent spirit of Lent is tempered with joyful anticipation of the Resurrection.
So, in preparation of this year’s Lent season, I prayed asking God to guide me in what to give up or add that would draw me closer to Him. In the past, I have given up coffee, sweets, and television. Last year, I added an act of purposeful kindness each day. All of these things were sacrifices or acts in which I needed to fully rely on Jesus in order to be successful. When I was wanting coffee, sweets, or television, the temptation reminded me to pray and talk with God. As the days went by, I was praying and talking to God much, much more than normal. Last year, it was necessary to pray and ask God to show me who and how I was to help each day. For me, Lent has become a time when I fully press into God. Yes, we should be doing this every day, and I believe the Lent season brings me on step closer to doing just that.
What have I been called to do or not do this year?
Let me just say, it is going to be a challenge. For the last two years I have felt called to do a study on the words Jesus. What is it that Jesus really told us? So, for the 40 days of Lent I will be writing on the words Jesus actually spoke….all those red verses. At first, that seems easy enough, but I quickly get overwhelmed by the practical side of things….the four different gospels…repetitions….differences….how can I possibly put this together in a coherent fashion? The truth is I don’t know what it will look like. I hate writing series on the fly. I am a planner. I like to organize. God, evidently, wants me to rely solely on Him (especially since He did not answer my prayers on what I was to do until this morning). Honestly, I am not looking forward to the process, but I am overjoyed by the prospect of the outcome. So, here goes nothing……
What were the first recorded words of Jesus in each of the four gospels?
Each gospel has different starting places:
Luke’s first quote of Jesus is taken from the time His family could not find him when he was a child. The later found Him at the temple and Jesus said,
“Why did you seek me? Did you not know I must be about my father’s business?”-Luke 2:49
Even at the young age of 12, Jesus knew His purpose. He knew who his Father was and He knew what He was called to do.
Matthew’s first Jesus quote starts with His baptism. Jesus had come to the Jordan river to be baptized by John the Baptist. John tried to prevent this, urging Jesus to baptize him (John) instead. Jesus replied,
“Permit it to be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” -Matthew 3:15
John the Baptist understood Jesus was his superior. He was surely bothered by the ridiculousness of him, as an inferior, baptizing, someone as superior as Jesus. However, Jesus knew God’s standard of righteousness and requirement of baptism. This is Jesus being obedient to His father. Furthermore, it bolstered John the Baptist’s stance on repentance and confession of sin as a necessity into entering the Kingdom of Heaven.
In Mark, we find the first words of Jesus, after Jesus has been tempted and John the Baptist has been put into prison. Jesus had come into Galilee preaching,
“The time is fulfilled and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent and believe in the Gospel.”-Mark 1:15
It it believed that this Galilean ministry started a year after Jesus’ baptism. The gospel is the rule of God evidenced in the person and proclamation of Jesus. Here, Jesus “ushered in a new era of salvation in which repentance and belief in the gospel were prerequisites”(as stated in notes from the Spirit Filled Life Bible).
Lastly, the first red letters we read in the gospel of John come when he is speaking to two of John the Baptists disciples. They had heard Jesus speak and then followed Him. Jesus turned to them and said,
“What do you seek?”-John 1:38
Jesus called his first disciples from among those following John the Baptist. Only one of the two followers of John that then followed Jesus were named. The one named was Andrew. Andrew then goes gets his brother, Simon, telling Simon they had found the Messiah. The other John the Baptist follower, not named, is thought to be the author of this gospel, John.
Join me next time as we look to more words spoken by Jesus. At this time I have no idea what this series will look like or how it will take shape. I ask that you pray for me so that Jesus’ name will be glorified. I also encourage you to seek God and join in on the season of Lent and be drawn closer to God.
Be Blessed and Be a Blessing,