Jesus models Lent for us early at the beginning of His earthly ministry. During Jesus' time on earth, He demonstrated many key teachings that affect our current lives and our walk with Him.
We can see how Jesus models Lent for us by turning to His act of fasting and praying for 40 days and 40 nights. During this time, Jesus ate nothing and drank nothing. He only fasted and prayed for these 40 days and 40 nights in the wilderness (Matthew 4:2; Luke 4:2).
The Concept of Lent
Lent occurs in the 40 days leading up to Resurrection Sunday. During this time, it is common for individuals to fast from something to grow closer to God. While Jesus fasted from food and water for 40 days and 40 nights, nowhere in the Bible are we commanded to do the same.
Rather Lent became a practice to reflect on God through giving up something or fasting during the 40 days leading up to Resurrection Sunday. In this way, we are following what Jesus models for us during His earthly ministry.
Through Jesus' model of fasting and praying for 40 days and 40 nights, we can see the importance of how it helps us grow deeper in our relationship with Him. Even though Jesus fasted from nourishment, you can choose something else to fast from.
Choose something that takes away time from spending with the Lord. Maybe social media takes you away from the Lord, or watching television does. Try to fast from one of those things during Lent, and you can replace the time you normally spend doing one of these things with spending time with the Lord.
Jesus' act of fasting for 40 days and 40 nights was to spend time with the Father and to prepare Himself for what was ahead. Jesus knew He was going to die for the sins of the world, and as we can see, this is not an easy task.
It is, rather, an extremely painful and gruesome task that caused the Lord great pain. Even though it caused the Lord much pain, He found it was all worth it to redeem His people from their sins.
In this way, Jesus' act of fasting for 40 days and 40 nights prepared Him for this great mission of truly being the Savior of the Lord. He did not give in to Satan’s temptation in the desert. Where mankind failed in temptation, Jesus was victorious over the enemy.
Fasting for Lent
What have you decided to give up for Lent this year? As previously mentioned, choose something that takes away a massive amount of time. While Jesus fasted from nourishment, there is no need to fast from food and water for 40 days and 40 nights.
Jesus is fully God and fully man; therefore, He is able to do remarkable things. Human beings can fast from food and water, but the side effects and aftereffects are less than ideal.
If you have a pre-existing health problem, I cannot stress more the importance of you not fasting from food and water for 40 days and 40 nights. It is not recommended, and for some, it can cause serious health problems, which can be fatal.
As someone who struggles with anorexia, I want to stress the dangers of fasting on the human body. Those who struggle with anorexia, like me, often fall into the habit of not eating for long periods of time, which can result in abnormal heart rhythms, bone density loss, and extreme weight loss.
All of these problems can cause life-threatening issues in the future. Even if a person has never struggled with an eating disorder in the past, the start of fasting can quickly manifest in the genesis of an eating disorder. Therefore, it is best to refrain from fasting from food and water during Lent.
Even with mental health issues aside, fasting for 40 days and 40 nights for a diabetic can be fatal and cause them to go into a diabetic coma. There are a vast number of other medical issues that can also occur if a person refrains from proper nourishment.
Through Jesus' act of modeling Lent for us, He is laying down the groundwork for us to give up something to spend time with Him. For most of us, food doesn't take long to eat.
It would be extremely rare for someone to say they spend more time eating than they are on social media. It is more important that we follow Jesus' groundwork of giving up something to spend more time in prayer with Him.
Following Jesus' Lead
The act of following Jesus' lead in how He models Lent for us needs to be a priority in our life, especially during this time of year. Many individuals feel as though they don't have time to invest in spending time with God, or they feel as though fasting from something is too difficult.
It needs to be remembered here that Jesus gave up every comfort He had to come to the earth to die for us. He left the beautiful gates of heaven to come to a sin-filled world to redeem us.
It wasn't Jesus' fault that the human race had fallen because we made ourselves that way. In the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve disobeyed God, and the fall was the result.
Jesus came to die for us because He loves us (John 3:16-17). Even though it wasn't comfortable for the Lord, He willingly died on the cross for our sins. As we are reflecting on Lent, we need to remember this vital truth.
We may think giving up social media, television, or technology is uncomfortable or difficult, but it is nothing compared to what Jesus gave up for us to have eternal life. Reflect on this truth and see if it changes your perspective on Lent and what you are willing to give up this year.
Therefore, Jesus models Lent for us by fasting for 40 days and 40 nights. Nobody commands the Lord to do this, yet He takes it upon Himself to use this time to pray to the Father. He also models Lent for us through the 40-day and 40-night fast to prepare Himself for His ministry and His death.
It also shows how He was tempted in the desert by Satan, yet He did not succumb to Satan’s temptation. While we are not preparing ourselves for death, we should be preparing ourselves for our eternal life with God.
It can be hard at times to believe this to be true, but one day, all things will be made right, and we will be in paradise.
Jesus died for us in order for us to see this day come. Reflect on the great love God has for you, and reflect on the great things He has done.
Even if right now might be a difficult time period, it is important to try your best to follow Jesus' lead and try to spend more time with Him throughout the 40 days of Lent.
It might seem as though 40 days is a long time, yet through these days if you are dedicated, you will enrich your relationship with the Lord and your knowledge of Him.
All of us will continue to learn more about God each day, yet we cannot do this apart from reading the Bible and praying. These are the two main things you need during your journey for Lent this year — the Bible and being active in prayer.
Jesus models Lent for us, yet it is up to us to put it into action. Through following Jesus' model for Lent, we will be able to draw closer to the Lord, grow stronger in our faith, and shine brightly for Him.
For further reading:
5 Unique Ideas of What to Give Up for Lent This Year
Photo Credit: ©iStock/Getty Images Plus/nambitomo
Vivian Bricker loves Jesus, studying the Word of God, and helping others in their walk with Christ. She has earned a Bachelor of Arts and Master's degree in Christian Ministry with a deep academic emphasis in theology. Her favorite things to do are spending time with her family and friends, reading, and spending time outside. When she is not writing, she is embarking on other adventures.