The Real Reasons Jesus Fasted

Fasting is all the rage these days. YouTube is filled with videos of proponents of intermittent fasting, a dietary practice that supposedly helps with weight loss via the patient doing without food for periods of time, according to Johns Hopkins University. In fact, fasting originated not as a dietary practice but as a religious one. As Bible Study Tools notes, going without food for a period of time in order to focus on prayer and meditation goes back at least as far as the Old Testament. Further, the practice is not limited to Jews and Christians: Muslims famously fast during the day during Ramadan, and Hindus fast as well, according to Learn Religions.

One of the most famous passages of scripture regarding fasting occurs in Matthew 4, wherein Jesus goes without food for 40 days and 40 nights in order to prepare for his ministry. During this time, he was tempted by the devil, and the entire passage is filled with deeper meaning — both about Jesus and for the Christian reader.

Jesus fasted for several reasons

As detailed in the Biblical narrative in Matthew 4, to prepare for his ministry, Jesus went into "the wilderness" to spend weeks fasting and praying. There, the Devil tempted Jesus in a variety of ways, from appealing to his basest of needs (by suggesting he turn stones to bread to satisfy his hunger) to promising him dominion over all the world if he would bow down and worship him.

The entire narrative is rife with spiritual significance, says Glory Dy, writing in The writer notes that Jesus' fasting highlights the fact that he was fully human just like the rest of us and experienced base human desires, such as for food. Further, the narrative is something of an allegory for the message that "true nourishment comes from God," as the writer notes. He also overcame temptation, and he did so by appealing to scripture in each case. Finally, the writer notes that Jesus' period of fasting is an example for other Christians to follow, a means of acknowledging that a Christian's strength comes not from himself or herself but from God and the scriptures.