He Pulled a FAST One

The other day I was reading my Bible (pauses for effect) because I am holy and stuff, and something leapt from the page and lodged in my vast cerebrum. I was perusing the book of Matthew. In it I came across the story of Jesus going into the wilderness right after his baptism. It’s worth noting that I was reading from The Message.

Leave Eugene out of this. I like reading The Message sometimes because of its narrative style. It reads like a story and sometimes the language is just plain entertaining. Focus…

I had just finished chapter three where Jesus was baptized and started chapter four when I saw this:

Next Jesus was taken into the wild by the Spirit for the Test. The Devil was ready to give it. Jesus prepared for the Test by fasting forty days and forty nights. That left him, of course, in a state of extreme hunger, which the Devil took advantage of in the first test: “Since you are God’s Son, speak the word that will turn these stones into loaves of bread.” Matthew 4:1-3 TM

Well, obviously you can see why I was caught off guard by God. I had never thought of it that way before. What? You don’t know what I’m talking about? Right there in black and white, and later with a splash of red, it says that Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wild for a test. Then it says the craziest thing ever. It says he prepared for that test by fasting forty days and forty nights.

WHAT?!?

I thought going without food or water for that long was part of the test. I remember as a kid in children’s church being taught:

“Jesus fasted for FORTY DAYS AND FORTY NIGHTS. Can you believe it boys and girls? That’s more than a month.”

I guess that the emphasis on the feat of fasting caused my grade-school theology to think that this was the first part of the test. I mean, I sure didn’t want to go without food for a month. Heck, I didn’t want to miss my ants-on-a-log or PB cracker snack for an afternoon, much less a fortnight. But, I was a kid–what did I know?

Fast forward a few years and now I’m legally an adult, regardless of what my family says. I haven’t really given this story much thought but I have noticed some things.

I’ve noticed that when I have to sacrifice my time for something churchy I feel like God should reward me for doing it. I mean, I had other things I could be doing but I denied myself, so I should be compensated. A bigger mansion in heaven or a small financial windfall, that’ll do.

Sometimes I have to give up a little bit of that hard-earned paper. You know, I work hard for my pay and I don’t just toss it about. I’m not Bill Gates so when I sliver off a couple of bills for some God-stuff, I want to know it was worth it. I want to feel like I’m not just giving it away, like it’s an investment.

That’s not really how it worked though. Jesus came to the end of his humanity so that he could rely on his divinity. After nearly starving to death he was tempted with food first, yet he persevered. Maybe my micromanagement of these creature comforts has blinded me to God’s divine intervention in my life.

In our society of affluence Christianity is not immune to the entitlement mentality. I think Jesus was showing me that to reach that place where God is in control I have to push aside what I think I deserve. I must control the man before I can submit the man.

After I submit him then God can finally take His rightful place as Sovereign. I wonder how often I have confused the preparation with the test.

Did you think the fast was part of the test? Do you feel like you deserve a reward for sacrificing wants to do good deeds? Are you confusing the preparation with the test?

15 thoughts on “He Pulled a FAST One

Add yours

  1. Pretty deep for a Monday morning! Great job at getting to the meat and potatoes of a matter (he he, talk about fasting!)

    I think it can be hard to not want recognition, as humans we desire confirmation. It takes effort to look to God for that confirmation instead of man.

    Hadn’t really thought of it before, but yeah, I can see how his prep was part of the test.

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  2. Great quote Ken “In our society of affluence Christianity is not immune to the entitlement mentality. ”

    Even in missions, like you said, these things creep into our thinking.

    Enjoyed the post!

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  3. “I must control the man before I can submit the man.” That’s good stuff, Ken! I don’t think it’d necessarily jumped out like this at me before either, and must admit that I usually do treat giving up stuff as if I should be rewarded instead an act of preparation. Thanks for the teaching moment.

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    1. I guess stuff like this is why I’m finding that following Christ is a process. As I conquer something then I let Him have it. The one thing that came to mind was “if so much of this is prep then what is coming?” Of course the test in this text only took a few moments it seems…

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  4. Awesome message, Ken! Especially as I am trying to lose weight. :-D. BTW, when I click on a new tab, Google puts up your page as one of the “Most Visited.” You are up their with “TCoNP”

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  5. I think it was preparation for the test. I don’t believe I need any reward for any sacrifices, but He may give them to me anyway.

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  6. Great post, Ken. You made me open my Bible and read that verse again. My version (although I LOVE the Message too) says, “After fasting forty days and forty night he was hungry.” We need to come hungry and empty. God does his most amazing work on our behalf when we come hungry. Love this, “Jesus came to the end of his humanity so that he could rely on his divinity”

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  7. You make some fantastic observations in this post. I have never looked at fasting as SAT Prep before, but it makes sense.

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