Lent originally was a time of fasting which lasted 40 days, leading up to Easter. Shrove Tuesday marked the beginning of Lent, when perishable foods such as eggs were used up - hence the making of pancakes.  Nowadays most people just give up one or two things for Lent.

The word 'lent' does not appear in the Bible, but fasting is mentioned several times.

Did Jesus keep Lent?

No, as it is not mentioned in the Bible, but he did fast.

Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil.   And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was afterward an hungred. (Matthew 4:1,2)

Why did he fast?
It was a time for reflection, clearing the mind, focussing on the work before him, a time for prayer.

So if Lent is not in the Bible, where does it come from?

In pagan idol worship there was a god called Tammuz who, according to myth, died in the spring. It was necessary for the people to weep and lament for him and to fast for 40 days (a day for each year he had lived on the earth) in order to bring him back to life again. If he did not come back to life then their crops would not grow. These ideas of death and resurrection were incorporated into the teaching of the [RC] church.

Is Tammuz mentioned in the Bible?Yes.

He said also unto me, Turn thee yet again, and thou shalt see greater abominations that they do.
Then he brought me to the door of the gate of the LORD'S house which was toward the north; and, behold, there sat women weeping for Tammuz. (Ezekiel 8:13,14)

Here, God calls the worship of Tammuz an abomination.

Are we commanded to keep Lent? No.

Should we keep Lent?In view of its pagan origins and the verses in Ezekiel, it would be better not to keep Lent.

Should we fast?There are several verses that show that fasting is a good thing to do, but at a time when we feel the need to do it, not when it is imposed on us by tradition or church rules.

Moreover when ye fast, be not, as the hypocrites, of a sad countenance: for they disfigure their faces, that they may appear unto men to fast. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.But thou, when thou fastest, anoint thine head, and wash thy face;>That thou appear not unto men to fast, but unto thy Father which is in secret: and thy Father, which seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly. (Matthew 6:16-18)

Will God be pleased with me if I fast?Whether we fast or not does not affect our standing with God. We cannot earn immortality; it is a gift that God will give to those who believe His word.

For all those things hath mine hand made, and all those things have been, saith the LORD: but to this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word. (Isaiah 66:2)

For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.  (Romans 6:23)

The only way to find out more about how we should lead our lives and how we should worship God correctly is to read His word, the Bible.   We have a Free Bible reading course which we hope will help you in your reading and understanding of the Bible.

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