Matt. 4:1 Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. 2 He fasted forty days and forty nights, and afterwards he was famished. 3 The tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.” 4 But he answered, “It is written,
‘One does not live by bread alone,
but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”
Jesus spent forty days and nights in the wilderness fasting. When he was finished with his fast he was “famished.” It was in this condition that the tempter came and tested him at the point of his perceived weakness. While his flesh was weak from fasting, Jesus knew that there was more to life than simply physical food. For the enduring race of life one needs to be fed with the word of God. It was in his famished state that Jesus was devouring the word which sustained him through the most difficult times in his life.
This is the first Sunday of Lent and as we enter this season of the year we consider where our walk with Jesus Christ will lead us. Some will have chosen to fast during this time of year in a way of identifying with the life of Christ.
While Jesus was famished physically, he was well-filled with the word of God. I’m not sure that any of us would look forward to feeling famished. Food surrounds us on a daily basis and eating meals has become not just sustenance, but entertainment. We go to different restaurants to try out different types of cuisine and we watch cooking shows and learn how to consider all the nuances of food. Do any of us even know what it means to be famished these days? This is one reason that we are invited into a fast with Jesus because for far too many of us we don’t know what it means to go without something, and if our appetites are always satisfied with the things of this world, we will never hunger for the things of God.
To be famished is to have hunger and, in this case it is to be for God’s leading and direction. Just as we can fill our bellies with junk food, so we can fill our spiritual lives with junk religion. It may seem sweet and fill us up but in the long run it will not be satisfying. Jesus was famished, but had filled himself up with the good food of the word of God. Fasting removes some of the distractions of this world from our lives so that we can become famished for the things of God. This will never happen if we never create space to become hungry.
As we follow Jesus on this journey into the wilderness may we find ourselves famished but filled. Hungry, but satisfied. Tested, and yet stronger than ever in our faith.
Lord, please lead me to that place of being famished. Amen.