LUKE 4:1-2 (NIV)
"Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, left the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, where for forty days he was tempted by the devil. He ate nothing during those days, and at the end of them he was hungry."
Luke chapter 4 is a pivotal and extraordinary part of the Gospel story.
Here we see a spiritual confrontation of cataclysmic proportions. The devil is trying to exert his influence over Jesus (and thereby the rest of mankind), but Jesus rebuts the devil’s advances and goes on to establish an everlasting Kingdom that will eclipse all of the devil’s work. Praise God!
It is important at this point to remember that Jesus, whilst being part of the Trinity, is also “fully man” in this dramatic encounter. It’s easy to dismiss Jesus’ heroics with a throwaway thought like, “Well, he is God!” However, Luke is very specific to point out how human Jesus is even by mentioning his hunger (which the devil tried to capitalize on).
Realizing Jesus’ humanness is essential because Jesus models for humans like you and me some very key spiritual practices. Perhaps I should ask you:
If you were about to go into the desert and be tempted and tested by the supreme enemy of God and the origin of the world’s evil, what would you do to prepare yourself?
If you’re like me, fasting is not high on my list of battle preparations. I’m much more inclined to have an emergency pack of chocolate bars and a thermos of my most comforting drink.
However, as the Lord says in Isaiah 55 verse 8: “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways.”
What we see Jesus do here is dive into the ancient practice of fasting because it’s precisely fasting that allows him to move in the ways of the Spirit necessary to combat the devil.
Fasting, at its core, is saying to God, “I’m more dependent on you than anything else. I need you more than food, more than drink; I need you to be my life-giving force more than anything.” That is why fasting was the perfect way for Jesus to prepare for an assault of the devil.
This past year I’ve been making fasting a more regular part of my life, and I’m always surprised by how “doable” it is. It’s never as bad as I think it will be, and being hungry certainly helps to remind me to pray. The biggest benefit, however, is that I find it resets me.
And when I fast from things like the internet or even have involuntary fasts (like when our washing machine breaks down for almost a month), I realize none of these things are really as important as they seem to be. God is so much bigger and better than any of them.
Fasting is a way of releasing the world’s control on my life through “the things of this world”, freeing me up to be more intimate with the Father and allowing him to sustain me directly.
In the upside-down way of God’s economy, having less of the world gives you more of him.
QUESTIONS FOR APPLICATION
- Are there spiritual battles you’re facing that could benefit from the intimacy with the Lord that fasting provides?
- Do you have any belongings or practices that seem to “own you” more than you own them? Would fasting help to reset that?
- In our family, we try to fast from noon on Friday to noon on Saturday without internet. Can you find a place in your week to add one regular fasting practice?
This reading is a part of our "Small Feet Big Shoes" devotional series. You can also sign up to receive these meditations by email.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Colin Crawley and his wife, C’havala, have been with CRM since 2005. They currently live and serve in London with their four teenage daughters. Fired with a passion to see people transformed by the wonder-story of the gospel, they are on a mission to catalyze a movement of the gospel and see Britain re-evangelized once more.