Beginning the Lent Season with Prayer and Fasting, Reflecting on the Path of the Cross

Churches around the world are observing the beginning of the Lent Season today on Ash Wednesday, with a day of prayer and fasting and by holding a special Wednesday Service. The Lent period, which lasts for 40 days (excluding Sundays) up to Good Friday has been part of the annual church calendar since the early centuries of church history and offers followers of Jesus Christ an opportunity to reflect more deeply on the path of the cross.

Focusing on the recording of the gospel of John, chapters 13 to 19, it begins with the scene of Jesus washing his disciples’ feet with the heart of “having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.” (John 13:1) After Judas leaves the supper, Jesus gives his farewell sermon – his final exhortation to his disciples – in John 14-16, culminating in his prayer for the protection and unity of his disciples in John 17. The following two chapters then describe how Jesus was arrested in the Garden of Gethsemane, interrogated, tortured, and ultimately crucified. Jesus’ last words are recorded in John 19:30 where he says, “It is finished.”

Taking the time to daily read and prayerfully reflect on a few verses in these chapters helps believers to more fully “grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ.” (Ephesians 3:18) And it leads to a greater desire to live a life that resembles the same humility and obedience to God that Jesus revealed most clearly through the last days and hours of his earthly life.

As it says in Philippians 2:5-8 “In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death – even death on a cross!”