Forty is a significant number in the Bible. It signals a state of waiting and preparation. Genesis shows us Noah and his family shut up in the ark, enduring the rains for 40 days and nights (Gen 7:17). Moses spends another 40 days and nights atop a mountain, neither eating nor drinking as he experiences the presence of God (Exodus 34:28). Numbers 14 shows the Lord, fed up with the grumbling of the Israelites, condemning them to 40 years of wandering in the desert. Mirroring the Old Testament, the gospel writers of the New Testament show Jesus spending 40 days in the wilderness, fasting, and being tempted by Satan: “At once the Spirit sent him out into the wilderness, and he was in the wilderness forty days, being tempted by Satan. He was with the wild animals, and angels attended him.” (Mark 1:12, NIV).
Following this pattern, Christians from many church traditions have marked the occasion of Jesus’ death and resurrection by a similar period of fasting known as Lent. The traditional calendar for Lent goes from Ash Wednesday to Easter, with exceptions for Sundays (always a feast day). This devotional follows that format—40 devotionals spanning 46 days.
Lent is a time of preparation; a season of prayer, fasting and repentance. It’s a time for reflecting on our shared experience of the suffering, death and glorious resurrection of Christ, the very center of our faith. Lent is a time of self-examination that should lead us to the end of our self-sufficiency and to full dependence on Jesus. However you mark this season, we hope that this devotional will enhance your meditations on Christ’s redeeming work. May this season be one of repentance, hope and joy in the resurrection of Christ; one that will last beyond these 40 days.