What the Bible says about Lent
Jesus Is Tested in the Wilderness
4 Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.
2 After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry.
3 The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.”
4 Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”
5 Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple.
6 “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down. For it is written:
“‘He will command his angels concerning you,
and they will lift you up in their hands,
so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’”
7 Jesus answered him, “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’”
8 Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor.
9 “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.”
10 Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’”
11 Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him.
Jesus Begins to Preach
12 When Jesus heard that John had been put in prison, he withdrew to Galilee.
13 Leaving Nazareth, he went and lived in Capernaum, which was by the lake in the area of Zebulun and Naphtali—
14 to fulfill what was said through the prophet Isaiah:
15 “Land of Zebulun and land of Naphtali,
the Way of the Sea, beyond the Jordan,
Galilee of the Gentiles—
16 the people living in darkness
have seen a great light;
on those living in the land of the shadow of death
a light has dawned.”
17 From that time on Jesus began to preach, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.”
Jesus Calls His First Disciples
18 As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon called Peter and his brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen.
Jesus’ Baptism and Temptation
Events surrounding Jesus’ baptism reveal the intense religious excitement and social ferment of the early days of John the Baptist’s ministry. Herod had been cruel and rapacious; Roman military occupation was harsh. Some agitation centered around the change of governors from Gratus to Pilate in ad 26. Most of the people hoped for a religious solution to their intolerable political situation, and when they heard of a new prophet, they flocked out into the desert to hear him. The religious sect (Essenes) from Qumran professed similar doctrines of repentance and baptism. Jesus was baptized at Bethany on the other side of the Jordan (see Jn 1:28). John also baptized at “Aenon near Salim” (Jn 3:23).
Many interpreters place John’s baptismal ministry at a point on the middle reaches of the Jordan River, where trade routes converge at a natural ford not far from the modern site of Tel Shalem.
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6 Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.
6 Christians should, therefore, "humble" themselves under God's "mighty hand." In the OT, God's hand symbolized discipline (Ex 3:19; 6:1; Job 30:21; Ps 32:4) and deliverance (Dt 9:26; Eze 20:34). Both meanings are appropriate in view of the sufferings of the Asian Christians. Once more Peter ties his exhortation to humility to the end times. The "due time" is the time God has set for Christ's appearing. Thus the whole destiny of Christians—whether it is suffering or glory—is God-ordained.
4 The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons.
2 Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron.
3 They forbid people to marry and order them to abstain from certain foods, which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and who know the truth.
4 For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving,
5 because it is consecrated by the word of God and prayer.
The Apostasy Described (4:1–5)
As a ‘bulwark of the truth’ (RSV) the church must be aware of the evils which will array themselves against it. Paul claims that the consistent witness of the Spirit is that the situation will deteriorate. He may have had in mind OT prophecy, the teaching of Christ (e.g. Mt. 24:11), or the illumination granted by the Spirit to NT prophets. By later times Paul is possibly referring to that period indicated by the phrase ‘after I leave’ which he uses in his address to the Ephesian elders (Ac. 20:29 f.), though the expression could equally well be extended to cover all the days from Pentecost until the end of the age (cf. 2 Tim. 3:1). The period will be characterized by apostasy. The underlying cause of this is traced to deceiving spirits. These contrast strongly with ‘the Spirit of truth’, the author of that ‘sound doctrine’ to which frequent reference is made in these letters. They introduce their teachings through men described by Paul as hypocritical liars. Such may well have made claim to inspiration. Whose consciences have been seared means either that their consciences have become insensitive, having been cauterized by persistent submission to evil influences, or that they bear the brand-mark of Satanic ownership. The particular form of error into which they lead their dupes is a false asceticism. Probably it reflects the Gnostic heresy which regarded matter as intrinsically evil, and which found specific expression in recommending avoidance of marriage and abstinence from certain foods. Paul’s answer relates particularly to foods, but the principles which govern it could easily be applied to the question of marriage. He gives it in three propositions: (a) That the divine intention in creation is not to deny these things to man, but to bestow them upon him. They are to be received with thanksgiving (3). This is true for all men, but is here applied specifically to those who believe and who know the truth. (b) That everything God has created is good. This strikes at the root of the heresy (cf. Mk 7:19; Ac. 10:15). (c) That things are legitimately enjoyed by the Christian when they are received with thanksgiving (4). Guthrie points out that the word apoblētos (to be refused) occurs only here in the NT, and that it is used in the sense conveyed by Moffatt’s translation: ‘nothing is to be “tabooed” provided it is eaten with thanksgiving’. The ability to render sincere thanks to God for the gift received is the determining factor. The phrase it is consecrated by the word of God and prayer must not be taken to mean that the food itself is affected, but rather that thanksgiving to God for it, and enjoyment at meal-times of conversation on the Scriptures, imparts a sanctity to the occasion.
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