Scripture: Matthew 3:16-4:2
“After his baptism, as Jesus came up out of the water, the heavens were opened and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and settling on him. And a voice from heaven said, ‘This is my dearly loved Son, who brings me great joy.’ Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted there by the devil. For forty days and forty nights He fasted and became very hungry.”
Ash Wednesday is one of the most popular and important holy days in the liturgical calendar. It jumpstarts the Lenten season, so over the next 46 days before Easter we will be in a period of fasting and praying. It is also a time of repentance, self-denial and spiritual discipline.
When Jesus was on Earth, He was all God and all man in one form. That’s why He is called “Son of Man” AND “Son of God.” But even though He was God’s Son and He and the Father were one, Jesus fasted. Why? Because Jesus knew He would face every difficulty known to humankind. He needed to fast so that He would have the strength to overcome any situation.
Matthew’s Gospel informs us that before Jesus began His ministry on Earth, He fasted. With the water of the Jordan River still running down His face and clothes, God declared how pleased He was with His Son. What better time to launch a public ministry — than when God Himself publicly proclaims His pleasure in you! But instead of capitalizing on the publicity, Jesus went into total isolation for 40 days, eating nothing. He became “A God Who Hungers.”
Jesus fasted in the desert before He preached one sermon, before He healed anyone, and before He called any disciples. Though He was tempted by the devil — Jesus fasted. And when Jesus had successfully completed His fast — He was prepared for the spiritual battles ahead. He stepped out into His destiny on Earth as “A God Who Hungers.”
What spiritual battles are you experiencing in your life? Do you need breakthroughs in your personal life, your family, your finances, your church or your community? Follow Jesus’ example. Jesus needed to fast, so that He would have the strength to overcome what was ahead of Him. And we need to do the same.
Fasting is a matter of exchanging — one form of hunger for another. By withholding physical food from our bodies we elevate the likelihood of developing a spiritual appetite! The meaning of all hunger — food or whatever — is to point us to God. “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst -- for righteousness, for they will be filled” (Matthew 5:6).
Jesus fasted to show us that we don’t have to be controlled by our appetites. Jesus fasted to be our example of how to be an overcomer, regardless of what we might face in life. If Jesus was led to fast doesn’t it make sense – it’s important for us to fast? And when we fast and pray, God will give us the increase and pour out blessings into our lives. This prepares us to fulfill the destiny that has been planned for us from “A God Who Hungers.”
Rev. Marion J. Miller is senior pastor of Wesley United Methodist Church, Jeffersonville. Contact her at 812-283-3747 or email@example.com.