Why Did Jesus Fast For 40 Days And Why It Matters Today

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Published by Shannon Jacobs



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According to Mark, Matthew, and Luke, the Holy Spirit brought Jesus into the middle of the wilderness after his baptism in the Jordan River so that the devil could tempt him. Based on the Word of God, Jesus was fasting for 40 days[1] before his encounter with the devil. Many readers of this narrative were curious as to why he fasted.

The Gospel does not clearly indicate why did Jesus fast for 40 days, but it does answer a number of questions through some specific passages, such as: When and where did Jesus fast? How did Jesus fast for 40 days? And why does fasting matter?

Key Takeaways

  • Jesus’ 40-day fast demonstrates reliance on divine strength to overcome temptation, highlighting the importance of faith and discipline in facing challenges.
  • Despite physical vulnerability, Jesus’ fasting showcases trust in God’s sustenance beyond food, emphasizing the power of spiritual practices in strengthening one’s relationship with the divine.
  • Fasting serves as a means to draw closer to God, acknowledging reliance on divine guidance and offering lessons on self-discipline and prayer in modern spiritual journeys.

When And Where Did Jesus Fast?

There’s just one reported incident of Jesus fasting in the Bible. This fast came soon after his water baptism (Matthew 3:13), which marked the beginning of Jesus’ public work. As described in Matthew 4:1-2, the Holy Spirit guided Jesus into the middle of nowhere to fast for forty days and forty nights, where the devil continually tempted him. This trying period equipped him to embark on a three-year journey that would forever impact the world.

After Jesus fasted, the devil left him there, and “angels came and attended him” (Matthew 4:11). In Luke 4:14, the description of this trying time is summarized by the words, “Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit.” Jesus, the only begotten Son, had conquered temptation and was prepared to embrace the mission and duty for which the Heavenly Father had appointed him.

A watercolor painting portraying Jesus fasting in solitude in the desert

Why Did Jesus Fast For 40 Days?

1. Jesus’ Body Was In A Vulnerable State

The first explanation is that Christ’s flesh was in its most vulnerable state during the fasting period. This suggests that, though Jesus is God, he was also a human being. Through fasting, Jesus’ flesh was able to feel its weakest nature.

2. God Is The Source Of True Sustenance

Jesus’ fasting serves as proof of his faith and confidence in his Father in Heaven. This is demonstrated by his continuous reference to God in rebuking Satan’s temptation. He did not use his own strength but God’s power by calling out his name.

3. Giving Up Food Is A Spiritual Practice

Finally, Jesus fasted as a way to prepare for the greatest spiritual battle against Satan, which Satan undoubtedly lost. Fasting can be a simple method that spiritually strengthens us and brings us nearer to the power of God.

It is a means of admitting that our own strengths aren’t our own but rather God’s. Jesus Christ did the same thing when fasting. It involves acknowledging his Father’s guidance and getting strength from him (Isaiah 58:6–14).

4. Jesus Had Defeated Temptations

Fasting provides a prime instance of how Jesus overcame temptation. According to the Bible, Satan tempted him numerous times. However, Jesus managed to overcome all of these attacks with simple yet strong rebuttals.

First, he stated that man cannot exist solely on bread. Second, he warned against putting the Father to the test. Finally, he told the devil, “Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only” (Matthew 4:10).

A digital illustration showcasing Jesus fasting in the wilderness

How Did Jesus Fast For 40 Days?

Experts believe that individuals may survive for a few days without water and only a few weeks without food—forty days is far too long. If Jesus were an ordinary human being, he would not have survived 40 days if he only drank water and ate nothing.

However, Jesus was not just a common man—he was the divine Son of God, born with divine powers and given the ability by the power of the Holy Spirit to fast for any amount of time. The fast was intended to cripple him so that he would draw nearer to God while also being more vulnerable to temptations, making his triumph over these challenges even sweeter.

Even if he had eaten something during the fast, he would have been physically and mentally exhausted. He most likely saved energy and walked as little as he possibly could during the fast. He most likely meditated and prayed for the holy presence of God. So he was prepared when the demon appeared.

Why Does Fasting Matter?

We’ve addressed four primary reasons why Jesus was fasting in the wilderness: His body was at its lowest point, yet he resisted temptation, exhibited his faith, and, lastly, fasting was his spiritual instrument for drawing power from his Heavenly Father.

Fasting was, in fact, an aspect of our Almighty’s overall plan to redeem us through Christ, his one and only Son. He needed to do it to get ready, both physically and spiritually. This knowledge draws us closer to Jesus and highlights how much he loves us.

A photography composition featuring a solitary figure in a minimalist desert setting

How Can We Do A Fast Today?

If you decide that you want to undertake a spiritual fast, keep in mind that you’re not Jesus; therefore, going into the wilderness by yourself for forty consecutive days is not a good idea. Still, there are several safe ways to fast. Fasting is mentioned numerous times in God’s Word as a means to pray, lament, or come closer to God.

First and foremost, visit a doctor for advice before fasting to guarantee that you do so safely. Following that, experts advise starting cautiously with short durations of time and then increasing to longer hours or even days.

Always keep hydrated, and avoid making this fast all about food denial. Instead, recognize that the goal is to reach a state of bodily rejection in order to better concentrate on your inner self. Lastly, maintain your attention on prayer and seeking God. Use this moment to be open and truthful with him.

An oil painting depicting Jesus fasting in the dessert inside a cave


In the Holy Bible, Jesus’ forty-day fasting was an important aspect of his existence that geared him for his service on earth. He was in a perfect relationship with his Father in heaven as he came triumphant from the wilderness, ready and eager to accomplish whatever God intended him to do, even dying on the cross to pay for all the sins of mankind.

Knowing about Jesus’ fasting could show us many things about him, including the significance of spending time with the Creator and the lessons we can gain when we give up bodily comfort and welcome difficulties for a time.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the significance of 40 days fasting?

The significance of 40 days fasting lies in its symbolic representation across various cultures and religions, notably in Christianity, where it reflects Jesus’ time of fasting in the wilderness prior to Easter.

This period is marked by spiritual preparation, introspection, and discipline, embodying themes of testing and renewal. Similarly observed in Islam and Judaism, fasting for 40 days symbolizes spiritual growth, repentance, and devotion.

What is the purpose of fasting?

Fasting serves a dual purpose, encompassing both spiritual and health dimensions. Religiously and spiritually, it promotes purification, self-discipline, and a deeper connection with faith, often symbolizing empathy and solidarity.

Additionally, fasting is recognized for its health benefits, including weight management and improved metabolic health, while also fostering mental clarity and mindfulness.

What are the benefits of fasting biblically?

Biblically, fasting is valued for its spiritual benefits, fostering a deeper connection with God through prayer, self-discipline, and humility. It’s seen as a path to seeking guidance, renewal, and spiritual clarity, echoing the example of Jesus’ 40-day fast in the wilderness.

Fasting also embodies principles of compassion and solidarity with the less fortunate, reflecting biblical teachings on empathy and justice.

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