Prince of Peace: From the Cradle to the Crown and Beyond
Jesus' Forty Day Fast
Yesterday's Lent devotional (Day 6) concluded with the statement that, "as Jesus came up from the water, the Holy Spirit descended on Him in the form of a dove, and that God audibly spoke, announcing that Jesus was His (God's) Son and that He (God) was very pleased with Jesus." It's interesting to note that a dove—the symbol not only of the Holy Spirit but also a sign of peace—descended on the Prince of Peace as He came up from the water. The visible sign of the Holy Spirit, combined with the audible voice of God, would surely be counted as one of those 'mountain top experiences' for many of us (e.g., when we go to a spiritual conference or meeting and have a personal, life-changing and close encounter with God). Often, our 'spiritual-highs' experiences occur on weekends, when we are free from work obligations. However, when Monday morning arrives, we may be reluctant to 'go back into the trenches'. We would prefer to bask in the after-glow of our intimate moments with God.
And, yet, we discover that, following His baptism, Jesus was directed by the Holy Spirit to go into the wilderness, where He remained for 40 days and nights. While there, Jesus was in solitude, fasting, praying, and preparing for His public ministry, as well as being subjected to three temptations/tests from satan. Those temptations were: 1) to turn stones into bread, because satan knew that Jesus would be physically weak and extremely hungry. In response, Jesus quoted Deut. 8:2-3; 2) satan took Jesus to the Holy City, where he urged Christ to throw Himself down from the top of the Temple. Jesus cited Deut. 6:16; and, 3) satan offered Him the kingdoms of the earth in return for Jesus' worship of satan, but Jesus didn't fall for that ruse: He already owned them all! Still, Christ didn't choose worldly acquistions over doing the right thing (Deut. 6:13).
What do we learn from Jesus' time in the wilderness? We know that after the experience and significance of His baptism, He still, like us, had times that included being alone, fasting and praying for God's will to be revealed regarding His public ministry. Like Jesus, we can ask our Father to strengthen us for the temptations or tests that we encounter in our daily lives. And when Jesus' “Test was over. The Devil left. And in his place, angels! Angels came and took care of Jesus’ needs,” (Mat. 4:11, NIV). When our test/temptation is over, God also strengthens us.
Blessings & Peace
Elizabeth Hogan Hayduk
Former Salvation Army Officer