Introduction to Lent Encounters

Brother & Sisters,

For our Lent devotional, Pastor Chris asked me to condense a study of Luke that I had put together for a group of friends about ten years ago.

At the time, the goal of writing the study was to take an intensive look at the life and teaching of Jesus to develop a more vivid and comprehensive understanding of what being conformed to his image truly implies. There was also a sense of struggle and frustration among the group that – while most were believers in Christ – our lives lacked transformation in discipleship and sanctification. Why were we feeling the same fears, anxieties and struggles with identity that those around us who were not redeemed by Jesus experiencing as we were going about our daily lives? There was a collective sense of not experiencing “life to the full” in the freedom of Christ, but rather a dispiriting conformity to culture and living a fragmented existence in a perpetually reactive mode. It is a grace to recognize this and desire the transformation in Christ that Scripture promises.

The approach I used was to take each discrete or semi-discrete action, behavior, practice, teaching or response of Jesus in the linear, sequential manner of Luke’s reporting and divide these into “encounters” that could be studied and meditated upon. There are 96 in all, but for the purposes of this devotional I have selected 40 that are among the most outstanding in learning from Jesus.

Some important caveats to note:

  • In the daily writing of observations for each encounter, I prayed that the Spirit would illuminate the passage for me and provide useful insight that could be communicated and applied. I do believe God was faithful in doing that, especially now in re-reading particular portions of the study (some insights are clearly beyond my own limited thoughts). That said, these observations are naturally colored by my human experiences and biases, and my potential fallibility of interpretation. I would encourage those reading to focus and meditate on the Scripture cited and ask the Spirit to likewise illuminate it for them and to “test all things” written by me against the authority of Scripture itself.
  • There are daily excerpts from books of various authors that were on my reading list at the time (I have added some newer readings as well while editing the study for the purposes of our devotional). While I believe that each excerpt used is biblically consistent and relevant to the flow of the study, I am not commending to you any of the authors with respect to every element of their theological position, all things they have written elsewhere, statements they have made, positions they have taken or denominational affiliation. In some cases, I may disagree strongly with an author on certain Scriptural interpretations beyond those cited here, but nonetheless see the excerpts included as biblically aligned and encouraging, convicting or thought-provoking.

I look forward to walking with Jesus for 40 days with you until we celebrate the resurrection of our Redeemer and King! The devotionals will begin on March 2.