40 DAYS -no coincidence here! There are some fairly high-profile events in Scripture that fit the 40-day window. It started with Noah’s flood, remember? 40 days and 40 nights of rain! Then Moses spent 40 days on Mount Sinai interceding for the people and getting instructions from God. The spies surveyed the Promised Land for 40 days, Goliath taunted Israel’s army for 40 days, and Elijah ran for his life from Jezebel for 40 days. Remember, too, Jonah’s message to Ninevah, “Forty days and you will be destroyed.” Then we see that Jesus was tempted in the wilderness for 40 days and finally there were 40 days between the resurrection and His ascension to Heaven.
So it is that Christians as early as the Fourth Century began setting aside the 40 days prior to Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection as a season of soul-searching, fasting, and good works. As with any practice, it can be distorted or become an end rather than a means to an end. My exhortation to the non-liturgical (and anti-) wings of Christianity is to give it a chance -try it, you might like it! -or at least it might do you a world of good!
So this is my gift to you: Last year I combined the four Gospels into one narrative and made the “Story of Jesus” read like more of a biography. I am going to divide the text into daily readings, each taking about 15 minutes, in hopes that you will set aside time to read the full gospel record in the forty days leading up to Resurrection Day. In fact, I’ll go one better. I’ve combined this with the book of Acts and Revelation into what I call “The Jesus Trilogy.” You see, the gospels only convey “what Jesus began to do and teach.” The book of Acts describes what it looked like when He began to “build His Church.” And of course, REVELATION is the culmination of what God wants us to know about Jesus for now. So, read consecutively, we get a multi-dimensional view of the One who loved us and gave Himself for us. I plan to continue the daily reading blogs right through the entire trilogy -should take less than three months.
I will also make the text available as a PDF for those who would rather print it out for daily use. Lent begins this Wednesday, February 18. Make sure you’re signed up to get notices in your inbox!
Oh, and let’s use the blog format for you to make comments on the journey as we head toward the Cross and beyond!
Blessed beyond words,
J. Dan Small