Fasting is the practice of denying one's flesh of its earthly desires to devotedly seek the Lord. The practice is found throughout Scripture and generally is practiced by complete abstinence of food for a determined amount of time. The desired outcome of fasting is a stronger spirit and a deeper focus on God instead of earthly matters.
Many believe that Jesus fasted more often than He did because of the frequently told story of His forty-day fast in the desert. However, many of Jesus' contemporaries criticized Him for "eating and drinking" (Matthew 11:19). Jesus began His forty-day fast immediately after being baptized (Matthew 3:13—4:2), and before His three-year ministry, which changed the world. His baptism ushered Him into His public ministry. The Holy Spirit prompted Jesus to fast and led Him into the wilderness for forty days and forty nights (Matthew 4:1–2). While in the wilderness, Jesus was continuously tempted by the Devil.
Jesus' physical body was at its weakest point from not eating, and this is when Satan relentlessly tempted Him. Satan attacked Jesus' identity as the Son of God, offered Him promises of power that were alternatives to God's plan for Him, and offered Him things that would satisfy His natural desires (Matthew 4:2–10). Jesus defeated Satan's temptations because He relied on God's Word and held tight to God's promises. This is a remarkable example of how Jesus prevailed over sin by finding power in the Word of God, not His own strength.
Matthew 4:11 says that after Christ was tempted, "the devil left him, and behold, angels came and were ministering to him." Jesus' fasting strengthened Him, not by relying on His humanity, but by relying on God. Luke 4:14 confirms His strengthening by God, saying, "And Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit ..." This time of fasting and enduring temptation prepared Jesus for His three-year public ministry, in which He delivered the oppressed, performed miracles, and defeated death. It was important that He lived every moment directed by the power of the Spirit (Luke 10:21–22), because it shows a mastery over His human nature. This is incredibly encouraging to those who follow Christ, since we are told in Romans 8:9–10 that we "are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness."
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