From T.M. Schoewe
February! What a month! It begins our transition from winter to spring! It’s full of events to drive out the winter blues, starting with a groundhog from Pennsylvania predicting an early spring this year. There’s Valentine’s Day. St. Valentine was quite a fellow. There are Lincoln’s and Washington’s birthdays, and maybe yours. On the 13th (Ash Wednesday) we entered into the long season of Lent.
Lent is an old English word meaning “to lengthen.” We have the glorious Epiphany season in which the Lord walks on water and feeds thousands around Lake Galilee; he goes down from Mount Carmel and talks about His coming death with a couple of old prophets then goes into the valley and says: “All things that are written by the prophets concerning the Son of Man shall be accomplished. He shall be delivered into the Gentiles (Romans) and shall be mocked and spitefully entreated and spitted upon. They shall scourge Him and put Him to death. But on the third day He shall rise again.” Although all this took place during one week in April, it has been lengthened into the forty days of Lent, ending with the glorious resurrection and climax, “Because He lives we too shall live.”
What shall we do during Lent? People have been doing many things! There seems to be an urge to do something, so there arises all sorts of denials, from dieting to refraining from eating sweets or drinking coffee, etc. And if you lived in the Middle Ages you probably gave up butter and gave the money you saved to the church to help build cathedrals. Do you have any suggestions? Here is one. Just “let Lent!”
It is not what we do as much as what we should let Lent do to us. How can we do that? There are four gospels and forty days of Lent; that’s ten days per story. Give yourself a little time each day, fifteen minutes will do it. Remember there are four different writers who tell what Christ the Son of the living God came into the world to do.
Matthew, Mark, Luke and John are quite different. Matthew was a Jew and tax collector for the Romans and hated by his fellows. His writing aimed to convince his fellow Jews that Christ is the fulfillment of their scripture’s prophesies. Mark, who fled naked out of the Garden of Gethsemane during Jesus’ capture, and who had some difficulties with Paul, seems to have had Roman citizenship and wrote to Gentiles. His gospel is quite military-like, full of “straight forwards.” So many early Christian congregations included many military personnel. Luke was a doctor, so he tells of the birth of our Lord in the manger in Bethlehem and His early visit to the temple for His circumcision. Luke records the Lord’s many miracles that have to do with bodily healings. Luke traces Jesus’ lineage back to Adam while Matthew stops with it at David. Then there is John, the old fisherman who goes back further, to the Lord Who in the beginning made all things, and Who became flesh and dwelt among us. Long ago at a burning bush in the desert Moses asked “who are you?” And the answer came back “I am.” John’s gospel is full of “I am’s.” Christ saying “I am the light of the world” and “I am the resurrection and the life,” etc. John finishes his gospel by saying that there are many things Jesus said and did that if written down could not be contained in all the books of the world. Matthew, Mark, Luke and John all agree Christ is the Son of the living God who dies for the sins of the world.
Let Lent do something for you. What will it do? You will be astounded how God loves you when you read the gospels.