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Is Lent in the Bible?

More than a word, the practice of putting Jesus first in our hearts and minds is rooted in Scripture.

Lent in the Bible
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We observe Lent as the 40 days before Easter, starting with Ash Wednesday. If you want to take a moment to look at your calendar and count how many days there are between Ash Wednesday you’ll see—hmmmmm—there are more than 40 days. That’s because Sundays aren’t counted. We get Sundays off. Sundays are feast days, days of celebration. So where did this tradition come from? What is the meaning of Lent? Is the term Lent even in the Bible?

Is Lent in the Bible?

The short answer: No, Lent is not in the Bible. You won’t find that word there. But the practice of Lent comes from the Bible.

Lent is that season of the year when we honor and remember a key moment in Jesus’s ministry. Before He could set out to do what He did, before He was going to preach and teach the Gospel, He went off into the wilderness for 40 days, fasting all the while.

4 Things the Bible Can Teach Us About Lent

Golden cross on a fence surrounded by spring flowers to show lent in the bible

1. The Promise of Easter

The word Lent comes from an Old English word that means springtime, or more specifically the lengthening of the days, as happens every Lent.

Isn’t that a nice reminder that this admittedly penitential season is quietly celebrating the arrival of spring, the arrival of more sunlight, the coming of the great Light and the promise of Easter?

As the Bible tells us “Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil” (Matthew 4:1). Take note of that. He didn’t simply wander into the desert because He wanted to. He was led by the Spirit. Let the Spirit lead you this Lent.

Family praying together on the couch with a bible opened to the lent story

2. Putting Jesus First

Jesus fasted for 40 days and 40 nights while there, and for that reason we often choose to give up something as we celebrate Lent. People give up chocolate or coffee or desserts or drinks. The purpose of such fasting? It’s a way of putting Jesus first in your mind and heart. Every time your stomach reminds you of how much you’re missing that bar of chocolate or that dish of ice cream, you’re reminded of Jesus.

It’s a way of putting Jesus first in your mind and heart.

(A minor technicality: since Sundays aren’t counted in the 40 days and since Sundays are days of honoring God anyway, many people skip their fast on the Sundays of Lent.)

woman hiking in the woods for lent in the bible with her puppy

3. Go into the Wilderness

The other thing worth considering is that Jesus was in the wilderness. Think of that as another way of honoring Lent. Go for a long walk in the woods. Go on a silent retreat. Go on a phone fast for a day (talk about something difficult to give up!). Let the Spirit speak to you.

READ MORE: 5 Fun, Easy and Faith-Filled Ideas for Lent

As we know from the Bible Jesus was tempted by the devil at the end of those 40 days. He was hungry. Probably tired and lonely, too. So, what do we do when we’re led astray by dark forces or just our own selfish, ego-centric natures? Look at what Jesus did.

When commanded to turn stones into bread, Jesus responded, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God’” (Matthew 4:4).

When the tempter took Jesus to the top of the temple and suggested Jesus throw himself off, Jesus countered by quoting Scripture again: “It is also written, ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test’” (Matthew 4:7).

Couple reading about lent in the Bible together

4. Scripture is Our Best Ally

And the third time, led to a high mountain and shone all the kingdoms of the world that the devil would offer if only Jesus would worship him, Jesus banishes him for the last time, saying, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God and serve him only’” (Matthew 4:10).

Scripture is Jesus’s best ally, as it is for us.

Whatever choices you make for Lent, whether you’re giving up sweets, going on a retreat or taking on a favorite charity, let Lenten Scripture be your companion. In that way you can find Lent in the Bible.

And know that the promise of Easter is just around the corner as the days grow longer and your faith expands. Happy Lent!

READ MORE ABOUT LENT:

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