Scripture: Matthew 4:1-11
1 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.
Since our attention is on different biblical examples of fasting this week, I wanted us to look at Jesus’ fast as a model for us for several reasons. While his situation is unique, it is most significant to me that he was led by the Holy Spirit to fast and undoubtedly pray, before launching into his public ministry. All that lay ahead would take a superhuman effort that only God could accomplish. Satan had failed via King Herod to subvert and destroy God’s redemption plan and here he tried again.
Fasting sharpens the mind and the spirit. People often comment that they can see things more clearly during a fast. Often things that seem so important at the time fade into insignificance. Other concerns emerge in our minds needing more attention. In other words, we are growing in wisdom. In addition, spiritual discernment often increases as the physical hunger seems to transfer to a kind of spiritual appetite and an increased hunger to know the mind of God.
This fast put Jesus in a nutritionally vulnerable position, but what did happen was his clear resolve to be obedient to his Father’s will regardless of his earthly human situation. There is a food principle here regarding fasting. Our bodies clearly need physical food to survive. Our spiritual body needs spiritual food, God’s Word, to survive. Notice how Jesus answered the food temptation from the devil. Jesus referred to the Scripture as his spiritual food. Spiritual food was more necessary that physical food. He often said, “My food is to do the will of my Father in heaven.” (John 4:34) We need to grasp and treat spiritual food as seriously as did Jesus.
While we may fast at the physical level, there is never a fast on the spiritual level or we die. Again, the purpose of these devotionals is to help us develop a regular fourth meal of the day: Scripture, breakfast, lunch, and dinner. We must feed our body and soul daily. The dinner you ate today does not last until next week or next month. By the same token, encountering God in his word daily feeds our souls and helps prevent spiritual malnutrition, a deadly disease.
The devil wanted Jesus to shortcut obedience to God and doubt God’s care and provision. The devil wanted to sever the spiritual connection between the Father and Son to try to convince Jesus that he could live apart from his Father and survive on his own. Earthly fasting, rather than making Jesus weaker, made him stronger in resisting. The devil tries the same thing with you and with me and with every person who has ever lived. You cannot overeat spiritual food, the best food there ever was. Like physical food, spiritual food always involves exercise, in a word, faith.
Music: “Welcome Holy Spirit” Girl Named Tom beautiful!
Prayer: O Thou to whom I owe the gift of this day’s life, give to me also, I ask, the spirit to use it as I ought. Forbid that I should stain the brightness of the morning with any shameful deed. Let Thy Holy Spirit breathe into my heart today all pure and heavenly desires. Let Thy truth inform my mind. Let Thy justice and righteousness make a throne within me and rule my errant will. Let Christ be formed in me, and let me learn of Him all lowliness of heart, all gentleness of bearing, all modesty of speech, all helpfulness of action, and promptness in the doing of my Father’s will. Defeat all selfish and worldly-minded schemes and prosper all that is conceived among us in the spirit of Christ and carried out to the honor of his blessed name. Amen
–John Baillie, from A Diary of Private Prayer, p.109