After being baptized by John in the Jordan River, Jesus began His ministry not by healing, not by teaching, not by turning water into wine or calming the storm and the sea. He began it by allowing the Spirit to lead into the wilderness, where He fasted for forty days and forty nights (Matthew 4:1-2). Although Jesus was the Son of God and therefore fully divine, He was also fully human. So, after not eating for forty days, He was hungry and He was weak. And while Jesus was in that place of weakness, Satan came on the scene to tempt Him.
Three times Satan tried to tempt Jesus, and three times he failed. Jesus overcame the tempter and his temptations. Why? Not because Jesus was the Son of God and beyond temptation but because He used the power of the Holy Spirit and the power of the Word of God. Remember, He was fully human. Satan wanted Jesus to use His divine power to overcome, but instead, Jesus used the resources that are available to us even now as followers of Jesus. Jesus was full of the Spirit when He entered the wilderness (Luke 4:1). And throughout those forty days, as He fasted, He allowed the Holy Spirit to lead Him.
Led by the Holy Spirit and with the Word of God hidden in His heart, Jesus came through His forty day fast stronger than ever. He was able to overcome the temptations of Satan and continue to follow the Father’s will for Him. But that spiritual strength that Jesus received as a result of His fast, as a result of letting the Holy Spirit lead Him, did not just enable Jesus to resist the enemy’s temptation, but it also filled Him with the power of the Holy Spirit, which was evident as His ministry began. Look at Luke 4:14-15:
And Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, and news about Him spread through all the surrounding district. And He began teaching in their synagogues and was praised by all.
After fasting for those forty days and overcoming temptation, Jesus began His ministry in earnest. With Holy Spirit power, He began teaching in the synagogues and, as a result, was praised by everyone who heard Him or heard of Him. When we find ourselves floundering in ministry, or floundering in our spiritual lives, we should follow the example of Jesus. I’m not saying we need to fast for forty days. Any time of fasting will help us to focus on what we need to have the strength that Jesus had. Our time of denying the flesh by fasting will help us to tap into the power of the Holy Spirit and the power of God’s Word.
Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.