Jesus: The One Who Fasted
Luke 4:1–4 (NASB95)
Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led around by the Spirit in the wilderness 2 for forty days, being tempted by the devil. And He ate nothing during those days, and when they had ended, He became hungry. 3 And the devil said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, tell this stone to become bread.” 4 And Jesus answered him, “It is written, ‘MAN SHALL NOT LIVE ON BREAD ALONE.’ ”
The Gospels record Jesus fasting,
We are not told directly why Jesus fasted.
On at least on one occasion it was due to ministry
John 4:31–34 (NASB95) Meanwhile the disciples were urging Him, saying, “Rabbi, eat.” 32 But He said to them, “I have food to eat that you do not know about.” 33 So the disciples were saying to one another, “No one brought Him anything to eat, did he?” 34 Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me and to accomplish His work.
I am sure there were other times that Jesus fasted.
I believe He understands the struggle we have to do such a thing.
To deny the flesh for the benefit of the spirit.
But otherwise, perhaps it was to express reliance on God in times of temptation or spiritual warfare (e.g., Matt 4:1–2; Luke 4:2).
Certainly when we are told of Jesus’ 40 day fast we know it involved spiritual warfare.
In the passage I just read, Jesus faced the same war we all do — the war with the belly — with the flesh.
Romans 8:5–9 (NASB95) For those who are according to the flesh [the sinful nature - Greek “sarx”] set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. 6 For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace, 7 because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so, 8 and those who are in the flesh cannot please God. 9 However, you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him.
So, fasting, for us, at least partly involves afflicting the flesh so that we can more clearly focus on the Spirit.
And then Pastor Richard Exley has said:
Through my experiences, I have discovered that the benefits of fasting almost always come after it is over.
While a person may have moments of spiritual insight during an extended fast, for the most part, fasting is simply hard work.
It is not a time of spiritual harvest or even planting—it is more like clearing the land.
That is, the spiritual landscape is covered with rocks, stumps, and underbrush.
When you fast, you work with the Spirit to clear the field so it can be prepared for seed. But preparing the land is hard work!
Figuratively speaking, you may get blisters on your hands, your back may hurt, and you may get sunburned and thirsty.
Yet it is worth it, because you are clearing new spiritual territory for God.
Perhaps … strongholds of power and ambition could be… broken without the discipline of fasting, but I doubt it.
I am not saying that ego or ambition never tempts me, because I will probably have to contend with them all of my life.
But through fasting, God has broken their grip on me.
Jesus taught that some spiritual battles are won only through prayer and fasting (Matthew 17:21).
The benefits of fasting are many: increased effectiveness in ministry, anointing for signs and wonders, power in intercessory prayer, spiritual discernment, special guidance, and financial provision, among others.
In short, fasting is a key discipline in becoming the man or woman God has called you to be.
It is little wonder, then, that John Wesley refused to ordain anyone into the ministry who did not fast at least twice a week (Foster 1978, 44–45).
Exley, R. (2007). Pastoral Ministry (pp. 41–42). Global University.
The Future Now
The Future Now
Because the Pharisees fasted, as did disciples of John the Baptist, Jesus’ disciples were unusual for not fasting
Matthew 9:14–15 (NASB95) Then the disciples of John came to Him, asking, “Why do we and the Pharisees fast, but Your disciples do not fast?” 15 And Jesus said to them, “The attendants of the bridegroom cannot mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them, can they? But the days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast.
Jesus defends this behavior using a parable of a bridegroom.
He indicates that His presence, like a bridegroom’s, was a cause for celebration, making fasting inappropriate.
According to Jesus, a time for mourning (and fasting) would be fitting when the bridegroom is taken away.
So, we are now in that future time.
This is the NOW of fasting and prayer.
By His Teaching
By His Teaching
In the Sermon on the Mount (Matt 6:16–18), Jesus criticizes those who fast hypocritically in order to attract attention.
Matthew 6:16–18 (NASB95) “Whenever you fast, do not put on a gloomy face as the hypocrites do, for they neglect their appearance so that they will be noticed by men when they are fasting. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. 17 “But you, when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face 18 so that your fasting will not be noticed by men, but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.
He tells people to give alms, pray, and fast in ways that are visible only to God.
They should not mar their faces or look gloomy; instead, they should wash their faces and put oil on their heads so that only God knows they are fasting.
So, as we go to the Lord in prayer, let’s ask God to see us in whatever fast we do (partial, complete, media, etc.)
And let’s pray for the elections.