Day 5, Monday, Feb. 27, 2012
Please read Exodus chapter 16-17 for today. The wilderness experience of Jesus was identical to the experience of Israelites. Jesus and Israelites both saw the manifestation of God’s power and glory just before the Lord led them into the wilderness. However, there is a contrast in their responses to the reality of wilderness. A few days into it and the Israelites “murmured against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness” (Exodus 16: 2). They all began to worry about food. Soon, they accused Moses saying, “You have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger” (Ex 16:3 RSV). God fed them with manna but soon after that they again grumbled: “Therefore the people found fault with Moses, and said, ‘Give us water to drink’” (Ex 17:2 RSV). This went on and on for the rest of their journey in to the wilderness.
Jesus, however, responded with fasting for forty days and nights during His wilderness experience. Unlike Israelites, Jesus was alone in the wilderness and He knew there was hardly any possibility of getting food or drink. Although He was God Himself and He could have produced anything He wanted to eat or drink, as He was the Creator, yet, He decided to fast. He was the One who brought forth the world and everything in it out of nothing (Genesis 1-2), as Apostle Paul said:
“For in him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or authorities—all things were created through him and for him” (Colossians 1:16).
And yet, Jesus chose to adopt a spiritual discipline of fasting to pass through his wilderness. Thus, Jesus laid the foundation of the tradition of fasting during Lent. Out of all spiritual disciplines, fasting is perhaps the most effective way of taking away our dependence on material stuff and fully focusing on spiritual matters. Fasting helps us deny ourselves and our physical needs for a certain period in order to teach us that “man shall not live by bread alone!” Fasting made Jesus quite week for a few days as a human being in the flesh; however, it strengthened Him spiritually and prepared Him well for the task of ministry for the future. Fasting also equipped Him to face the greater temptations that the devil was about to bring Him into. That’s why Jesus was able to come out of them victoriously and became a blessing to all those who are facing a wilderness or being tempted just as He was. So, if today you find yourself all alone in a challenging wilderness. If today you’re facing an insurmountable temptation, learn from Jesus and respond by adopting a discipline of fasting and prayer. And you, too, will come out victorious. Amen.