And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was afterward an hungered.
I. The LIMITS of Christ's fast. His fast lasted the same length of time as that of Moses and Elias; thus we may see in Christ the end and explanation of the Old Testament. How often in Scripture this number " forty " occurs. But not simply the length but to the limit of Christ's fast we direct attention. We are not told that our Lord practised austerities, except in the desert. The universality and perfectness of Christ's life did not admit of its being contracted into a single idea or type of holiness. He too would thus have lent support to the idea that holiness is in external practices; whereas it was His great purpose to point to states of mind and. heart as the pith of perfection. Christianity must not in all cases be modelled upon a forbidding asceticism; we must remember the limits of the fast, and that He who sanctioned austerity was present at the marriage festival.
II. The PURPOSES of Christ's fast.
1. Its purpose in reference to the past. The first sin was the violation of the law of abstinence; His fast was an expression of sorrow for that transgression, and for the sins of intemperance which have resulted. Fasting may be a natural effect of sorrow, but this of rare occurrence in a soul burdened with grievous sin.
2. Christ's fast had also relation to the present. He fasted as aa example to teach us one of the means for vanquishing the tempter.
3. Christ's fast sanctified fasting also in relation to the future, as a means for increasing illumination. Coming before His public ministry He sanctioned it as calculated to produce an accession of light in the soul. It will be seen that light springs from mortification if we observe how darkness is the result of self-indulgence.
III. The CONDITIONS of Christ's fast.
1. It must be a real self-denial. The first degree of mortification is the ceasing to gratify fallen inclinations; then the surrender of superfluities; then the withdrawal from the concerns of life; finally it touches even the necessaries of life.
2. It was in secret, in the depths of the desert. It should not be vainglorious.
3. With the enlargement of the motives of fasting, there was also an importation of brightness into the practice. Our Lord was led by the Spirit, and where the Spirit is, there is joy, peace, etc. There is danger of losing sweetness of temper unless the fast be sustained by the Spirit.
(W. H. Hutchings, M. A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was afterward an hungred.