Ahh, Valentine’s Day. A celebration of love. Romantic love, yes, but also friendship, family, community, really anything that might hold one’s affection. It’s light hearted. Pink and pretty and sweet. Maybe even a little indulgent.
Lent, by contrast, has more somber connotations. Ashes and dust, a humble reminder of our mortality and sin. Modeled after Jesus’ forty days fasting in the wilderness, it is a season of preparation meant to cleanse the soul, humble the heart and discipline the body. It is a time to make less of ourselves
These two very different holidays might not appear to have much in common and wouldn’t normally be considered together. In fact, the last time Ash Wednesday (which marks the beginning of Lent) fell on February 14th was back in 1945! But at their core, they celebrate the same thing: love. Affectionate, passionate, sacrificial love, personified in the life and death and resurrection of Jesus.
Lent is about the love of Jesus, shown in his life, death, and resurrection.Click To Tweet
“Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” John 15:13
Picture the scene behind the first passage of our reading plan (which begins tomorrow on Ash Wednesday!).
John, who defines himself as “the disciple Jesus loved”, is getting older. He’s maybe thirty years past his time with Jesus on earth. Thirty years or so of ministry, spreading the Gospel, discipling the young church. He’s seen persecution and the deaths of most of his closest friends. He lives in Ephesus, a Roman colony in what we know today as Turkey. The city is the center of worship for Artemis (known to the Romans as Diana), the Greek goddess of fertility, childbirth, chastity, and the hunt. Day after day John watches millions pour into the city to worship at the Artemesium – a magnificent marble temple that will someday be named as one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. He sees the hunger in their eyes, the longing for healing, hope, help, and watches them seek that help from the cold, stone pillars of an empty temple.
Once upon a time his life was turned upside down and inside out by a most remarkable man – God who became man. His quill flies across the page with passion as he expresses the inexpressible. Remembering the love that changed his life, he describes the indescribable.
He begins with the Word – lofty, intangible, the very essence of all thought and wisdom. Like a spiral, the unknowable God who created everything and holds all things together, the Light of life, becomes more tangible, becomes like us, living here with us! The Law was given in stone on a mountaintop, but the Truth comes to us in the person of Jesus Christ. The only One who has ever seen God the Father has revealed him to us!
Are You Ready to Feel the Love?
Dwell on his nearness today. He is alive and wants to connect with you. He doesn’t just watch our sacrifices knowing there is nothing we can do to save ourselves, but delights in us, pouring himself out for us, grace upon grace. Because he loves us.'The Word became flesh and dwelt among us.' John 1:14 #40DaysWithJesusClick To Tweet