Today is the last Sunday in the season of Epiphany. This Wednesday we will enter the season of Lent, the forty days leading up to the passion and resurrection of Jesus. Historically this season has been marked with fasting, acts of repentance and restitution, and deeds of mercy. In Lent, we the people of God memorialize and seek to internalize the theme of suffering and waiting in Scripture. Our forty days here is a memorial of the forty days of rain during the flood of Noah when God unleashed his fury and judgment against wicked mankind but saved righteous Noah and his family. Forty is the space of time for trying, growing, and maturing. It is a time of judgment and salvation. Moses spends forty days and nights on Mt. Sinai, without food or water, communing with the Lord and receiving his law. Later Elijah did the same, fasting for forty days and nights on Horeb. Israel is disciplined in the wilderness for forty years, one year for every day that the spies spied out the land of Canaan. God often gives rest for forty years in the time of the judges, and other times, they are enslaved for forty years. The Philistine giant taunts the armies of Israel for forty days, morning and evening. Forty years old is an age of maturity. Isaac and Esau take their wives when they are forty. Moses begins his ministry to the Israelites in bondage when he is forty. Saul begins to reign when he is forty. Forty is also a length of fullness. David, Solomon, and Joash reigned for forty years. In Solomon’s temple, the sanctuary was forty cubits long, and there were forty baths. Forty days is the length of time Nineveh is given to repent before God’s promised judgment. Jesus spent forty days and nights in the wilderness after his baptism, fasting, and he was tempted by the Devil. After his resurrection, he was seen by his disciples for forty days before his ascension. In the law, forty stripes was the maximum number for a punishment, and Paul says he received “forty minus one” five times. We, like Christ our head, in Lent turn our faces resolutely to Jerusalem, obediently going to the cross for the joy set before him.