Throughout the Bible, fasting is shown as a prevalent spiritual discipline. A fast is a period during which a person voluntarily abstains from eating to focus on prayer and seeking God.
Just one instance of Jesus fasting during his stay in the world is documented in the Bible. As per Luke’s Gospel, sometime after his baptism, Jesus was guided by the Spirit into the desert, where he remained there for forty days (Luke 4:2). Moreover, the Gospel of Matthew adds that the fast lasted “forty days and forty nights” (Matthew 4:2).
Is there any significance to Jesus’ fasting, and what motivated him to do so? In addition, what can we learn about the value of spiritual disciplines from Jesus’ prolonged fast?
When did Jesus fast, and for how long?
Following Jesus’ baptism by John in the River Jordan, the Gospel of Matthew describes heaven opening, the Spirit of God descending upon him, and God’s voice proclaiming, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him, I am well pleased” (Matthew 3:16-17).
Then, without delay, Jesus goes out into the desert to be taunted by the devil (Matthew 4:1).
According to Luke’s gospel, Jesus was “full of the Holy Spirit” and was tested for forty days in the desert. As per Luke 4:2, Jesus “ate nothing during those days, and at the end of them, he was hungry.”
Immediately after his baptism and temptation, Jesus set out on his ministry, visiting several towns and cities in Judea to share the gospel with anybody who would listen. Many people believe that his ministry would have been unsuccessful without the preparation he received in the wilderness.
Where did Jesus fast?
Biblical experts agree that Jesus went on a fast somewhere in the Judean wilderness not far from the Jordan River. The high peak, where the devil is said to have taken him at one point, is rumored to be the Mountain of Temptation, a remote and forbidding spot with a commanding view of the city.
Why did Jesus fast for so long?
There were several reasons why Jesus fasted. Let us go over these four major reasons in depth.
The Flesh of Jesus Was at its Weakest
One reason is that Jesus’ flesh was in its weakest state while fasting. Jesus was fully human throughout this time, which means he was just like us. By abstaining from food, he could feel what it was like to be at his flesh’s most frail. What does it mean to have the weakest of flesh? This suggests he is prone to temptation, which is why Satan was able to get him to consider giving in to temptation at this particular time.
As humans, we constantly battle the frailties of our physical bodies. And then there’s Jesus. God and man rolled into one; Jesus possessed both natures perfectly. This explains why He was immune to temptation.
Fasting, however, allowed Him to feel the limitations of human flesh and truly identify with us. His fasting was just one of the many things He did to show His devotion to us as our Savior, and we owe Him thanks for it.
As it is said in Romans 8:9, “You, however, are not in the realm of the flesh but are in the realm of the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ.”
God Is the Source of Real Sustenance
Jesus’ fasting is a sign of His devotion to His Father. This is shown by the fact that He continually invokes God in his arguments against Satan’s temptations.
For instance, he says: “He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your ancestors had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.” (Deuteronomy 8:3)
As followers of Jesus, we have a lot to gain by observing His response. Jesus did, indeed, serve as a model for His disciples all through history.
“Much time had been lost, and sailing had already become dangerous because by now it was after the Day of Atonement. So Paul warned them” (Acts 27:9), and in Leviticus 23:27: “The tenth day of this seventh month is the Day of Atonement. Hold a sacred assembly and deny yourselves, and present a food offering to the Lord.”
Jesus Resisted Temptation
The fasting of Jesus is another instance where He successfully overcame temptation. As recorded in Scripture, He faced numerous temptations from the Devil.
The adversary first suggested that Jesus satisfy His hunger by transforming stones into bread. Second, the serpent seduced Jesus by suggesting that if He threw Himself down, the angels would rush to His rescue, establishing His divine Sonship. Finally, Satan taunted Jesus by suggesting that the world would be his if He worshipped him.
But Jesus overcame each of these temptations with answers that were both brief and devastating. He first declared that men could not live by bread alone. Secondly, He warned against testing the Lord God. Then He finished by saying to the Devil: “Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.” (Matthew 4:10)
This situation tells us Christ’s ability to resist temptation is demonstrated by His fasting. It’s encouraging to know that we’re not alone in our struggles with temptation. Remembering Jesus and calling on Him for strength to resist Satan can be powerful tools in the face of temptation. In the name of Jesus Christ, we will resist temptation.”
Fasting Is a Holy Discipline
Finally, Jesus fasted so that He would be spiritually ready to fight Satan in the supreme Spiritual battle, which Satan would undoubtedly lose. This is because fasting is a pious practice that strengthens our relationship with God and helps us grow spiritually.
It’s a method of giving credit to God for all we’ve been given. So this is what Jesus did while fasting as well. To do this, he must acknowledge the authority of his Father and draw strength from him (Isaiah 58:6-14).
Check out some of our other posts!