Jesus Fasts 40 Days and is Tempted

Matthew Chapter 4

Jesus was about to begin his ministry of teaching people and of serving people who needed help.  Before doing this, he went into the wilderness to fast and to worship and to be close to His Father in Heaven.  We are taught that fasting can help us be close to God and to receive help from Him.  When we go without food and drink for a time and pray to tell Heavenly Father our purpose for fasting, we are showing our Father in Heaven that receiving help from Him is more important to us than having food and drink during this time.  That is what Jesus went to do.  During this time of 40 days*, he fasted and prayed and felt close to God.  

Christ in the Wilderness, by Ivan Kramoskoi

When his fasting was complete and he had finished this time of worship, he was weak and needed strength.  This is when the devil came and tempted him.  

The devil first said that if Jesus really was the Son of God, that he should turn some stones into bread.  I’m sure Jesus would want to show that he was the Son of God and Jesus would want some bread to eat, but Jesus knew that the power he had was not to show anyone how great he is, and it is not to serve himself.  His power was for helping others.  So Jesus did not do what the devil told him to do.  The devil tried to get him to do other things that would have Jesus prove he was the Son of God, but Jesus just told the devil to go away by saying “get thee hence, Satan.”

After the devil left, angels came and strengthened Jesus.  Jesus had performed a great work in fasting and becoming closer to God, and he had also passed a great test in overcoming the temptations of the devil.  Jesus was now ready to go teach and help people, and to do the work that makes it possible for each of us to receive eternal life.

What do you think?

  • Why did the devil wait until after Jesus’ fast to tempt him?
  • How does our physical condition affect our ability to choose the right?
  • When you are tempted to do something wrong, how can you have the strength and courage to do the right thing?
  • What else can we learn about Jesus from this story?

*(We don’t actually know the details of his fasting for 40 days.  As is customary in that region of the world during fasting times, he may have had one meal each evening. That would still mean fasting each day for 40 days.  If he fasted for the entire 40 days with no meals or drink, it would have been one of the first miracles he performed because nobody can go that long without food and drink.)

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