Lent 2021: The plan

Best laid plans…

40 blogs of Lent — day 1

Here we are, Lent, an ancient word for Spring, and a season of the Christian church which is used as a time of preparation for Easter, and which comes around in the late winter and takes us into mid spring, the 40 days signifying the 40 days Jesus spent in the wilderness.

The wilderness

In my previous blogs on a forum which seems to have disappeared into a lost corner of the internet I did a short series on the Beatitudes from the Sermon on the Mount on Matthew’s Gospel, later I completed blogs on the sermon on the mount and then started filling in the rest of Matthew’s Gospel, which is easy as Matthew’s Gospel has a structure to it. It starts by linking back to the Old Testament, and everything is linked with a narrative section on the life of Jesus followed by a teaching section. At the end of each teaching section there is a verse which says, ‘when Jesus finished this,’ or similar words.

The structure is like this:

  • Chapters 1 to 4: The genealogy of Jesus, his birth and his ministry starts
    • Chapters 5 to 7: The sermon on the mount
      • 7:28 And when Jesus finished these sayings, the crowds were astonished at his teaching, (All references ESV UK)
  • 8:1 to 9:34: Nine miracles showing the authority of Jesus
    • 9:35 to 10:42: The calling and sending out of the disciples, rules for evangelism
      • 11:1 When Jesus had finished instructing his twelve disciples, he went on from there to teach and preach in their cities.
  • 11:2 to 12:50: Jesus comes into conflict with the Jews
    • 13:1–52: Parables of God’s kingdom
      • 13:53: And when Jesus had finished these parables, he went away from there,
  • 13:54 to 17:27: Jesus withdraws and the transfiguration
    • Chapter 18: Parables of rebuke
      • 19:1: Now when Jesus had finished these sayings, he went away from Galilee and entered the region of Judea beyond the Jordan
  • 19:2 to 22:46: Jesus in Jerusalem
    • Chapters 23 to 25: A teaching section in the apocalyptic writing style
      • 26:1: When Jesus had finished all these sayings, he said to his disciples
  • Chapters 26 to 28: The last supper, arrest, crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus

As you can see by the structure, this is not, not is it meant to be, a consecutive biography. The order of things in this book are not necessarily the order things actually happened. That is why I love Matthew’s Gospel as far as the teachings of Jesus is concerned, it is so neatly structured things are easy to find. Matthew’s is a book on teaching. You can tell what the different Gospel writers purpose in writing is by what they put first in their versions of the story of Jesus:

Matthew: The sermon on the mount is first, the emphasis is on teaching
Mark: An exorcism is first the emphasis is on Jesus beating the powers of evil
Luke: Jesus’ sermon about bringing good news to the poor
John: Jesus turns water into wine. The emphasis is on how Jesus transforms people

That last bit is off topic, but it is a useful bit of information for if you are looking for something. That’s one thing my autism brings me, I have far more interest on how things are structured than most people have.

So what this year? I have been haphazard in the order I have gone through this Gospel, the beginning and the end I have looked at so there is just the section from 13:34 to 22:46 to fill in. I say just, but it is too long for these 40 days, six of which will be about church services in any case. So here are 32 posts covering Matthew 13:54 to the end of chapter 18. Chapters 19 to 22 will have to wait until either Advent this year or next Lent. It all depends on how many posts it will take to get through it without going on to book length blogs.

But who knows what will happen this Lent? Last year, 2020, started in a time where there had only been a few Covid-19 cases in the UK and nobody had died of the disease, we were being told not to worry, everything will be all right, and ended in lockdown and churches closed for Easter. This year we start in lockdown, with the official number of deaths tragically over 100,000, but with immunisation underway. What will the situation be at Easter? I have no idea, I don’t even know what the situation will be next week. Best laid plans…

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