Jesus in the wilderness


#1

I have a couple of questions regarding when Jesus spent his time fasting in the wilderness and being tempted by the Devil (Matthew 4:1-11).

  1. Did Jesus spend an actual 40 days wandering in the wilderness, or did he just fast 40 days fasting prior to being in the wilderness?

  2. Why was Jesus lead into the wilderness by the Holy Spirit to be tempted/tested by Satan (Matt. 4:1)?

  3. When it says that Jesus fasted for 40 days and nights (Matt. 4:2) does this mean that he completely stopped eating food, or reduced his food intake? What would he have eaten in the wilderness (I know John the Baptist ate honey and locusts in the wilderness)?

I know these are probably pointless questions but I always wonder how Jesus would have felt in the wilderness, or rather what thoughts were running through his mind. I hear people talk of “desert experiences;” is this a reference to how Jesus was alone in the wilderness? So when one has a “desert experience,” is it a reference to feeling completely abandoned, lonely, or extreme temptation?


#2

40 represents a time of testing. Israel spent 40 years in the wilderness.

Jesus was likely an Essene Jew. These practiced an ascetic lifestyle of poverty, prayer and fasting so it is no surprise that such a person would be alone to pray. Jesus often withdrew to pray alone.

Prayer was always seen as one of the battlefields of the spiritual life, where battle is done with demons and where we learn to discern the Spirit of God from the demons.

-Tim-


#3

We can’t know for sure, but ISTM that the fasting took place in the wilderness, and not prior to going there.

Scripture states that He was led into the wilderness to be tempted. The Mountain of Temptation stands in the Judaean wilderness (modern day West Bank) near Jericho. There is a whole lot of nothing there, an ideal place of prayer and fasting.

ICXC NIKA


#4

This link will take you to the USCCB website, specifically the online New American Bible, Revised Edition. Scroll to the bottom of the page. I think the notes will answer most of your questions. :slight_smile:

usccb.org/bible/matthew/4


#5

The Haydock Bible is also a great resource for Scripture commentary ( haydock1859.tripod.com )
Here’s a direct link to Mt. 4:1-11
haydock1859.tripod.com/id18.html

There is certainly no reason to doubt the literalness of the gospel texts. (The texts don’t say he “wandered” in the wilderness - just that he was in the wilderness.)

Luke’s text shows that the fasting took place while Jesus was in the desert.
Lk 4:1-2 …was led by the Spirit for forty days in the wilderness, tempted by the devil. And He ate nothing** in those days**; and when they were ended…

  1. Why was Jesus lead into the wilderness by the Holy Spirit to be tempted/tested by Satan (Matt. 4:1)?

These are my own personal thoughts:

God allowed Adam to be tempted/tested by Satan to eat the only forbidden food in the garden of Eden when he (Adam) was probably not even physically hungry!! Adam failed; he rejected God’s will, the Divine plan, and followed Satan’s bidding/plan instead.

**To atone abundantly for that particular facet ** (physical food as instrument of temptation to act contrary to God’s will) of Adam’s original fall, Jesus (God incarnate) subjects Himself to temptation/testing by Satan with physical food, in circumstances far more stringent than those experienced by Adam.
Jesus rejects Satan’s bidding and the temptation to depart from the Divine plan.

  1. When it says that Jesus fasted for 40 days and nights (Matt. 4:2) does this mean that he completely stopped eating food, or reduced his food intake? What would he have eaten in the wilderness (I know John the Baptist ate honey and locusts in the wilderness)?

Luke’s gospel says “And He ate nothing in those days;…” (Lk 4:2) That seems pretty clear to me.

I see no reason to doubt such a thing. There are saints who have survived long periods (years) without eating, other than receiving the Eucharist.
patheos.com/blogs/yimcatholic/2011/03/because-yes-you-can-go-without-food-for-a-day-or-two.html
miraclesofthesaints.com/2010/10/miracle-of-eucharist-total-fast-from.html


#6

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