Thursday, November 05, 2009


Matthew 4:1-11

In my last post I talked about what I discovered about myself when I thought about fasting. At the end of the post I gave one reason I thought fasting would be a good thing. As I read the rest of the story about Jesus' temptation I discovered a few interesting things - possibly a few reasons why we should fast.

The first temptation. Jesus is tempted to live need centered instead of God centered. Satan tempts Jesus to fulfill his needs outside of God. Jesus responds by stating that what we truly need is God.
This temptation is clearly linked to fasting. After all the temptation is about food. Why fast? Because it is a reminder that we need God more than we need anything else (including food). It can also remind us that we are not to seek to fulfill our needs outside of God. A while later in the gospel Jesus tells us not worry about our basic needs. We are to seek God's kingdom.

Second temptation. Jesus is tempted to live a me centered life instead of a God centered life. Here Jesus is taken to the highest point of the temple and is invited to throw himself down because God will protect him. There are several things going on. One, is the temptation to test God instead of trusting him. This is really about being me centered. We demand that God jump through our hoops. We expect him obey us instead of obeying him. And the funny thing about testing God is that we will always need one more proof. Another thing that is going is that if Jesus would have jumped and been safe and landed in the temple then people would have known that he was something special. So this was also a temptation to be prideful. And pride is being self centered.
I wonder if fasting can also help us here. Fasting is about denying ourselves. Denying ourselves the basic necessities of life. We do something that physically declares that we are not the center of the world - God is. After all fasting is not simply about giving up food it is always linked to prayer.

The third temptation. Here Jesus is tempted to be result centered not God centered. Satan tells Jesus that he will give him all the kingdoms of the world. Jesus has the opportunity to be the great king of the world right now - God's plan is for him to eventually become lord of all. However to get this quick result Jesus is invited to abandon God and God's way which leads to the cross.
Can fasting help us here? Well in my last post I mentioned that fasting seems to be impractical. But maybe that is something good. Can I obey God even when it seems impractical or do I always need to have a clear result?

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