Matthew 4:1-2, Jesus Fasts
Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil. And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was afterward an hungred.
//According to Matthew, Mark, and Luke, immediately after his baptism by John, Jesus heads off into the desert to be “tempted by the devil” for forty days. This contradicts the Gospel of John, which reports that Jesus came back to the Jordan River the very next day, but let’s not get bogged down in details.
What I find interesting is not whether Jesus fasted for one day or forty, but why he decided to fast at all. Apparently, according to Matthew, Satan wouldn’t or couldn’t show up until Jesus is delirious in his hunger. But once Jesus is properly prepared, Satan makes his entrance and tempts Jesus, first suggesting Jesus change some rocks into food. Then Satan tempts Jesus with fame and kingship over the earth, which Jesus refuses (so much for the book of Revelation).
Luke flavors his story a little differently, suggesting that Satan tempted Jesus throughout the forty days. Only Matthew and Luke tell how Jesus was tempted (Mark simply reports without elaboration that Jesus was tempted by Satan), but somehow, their stories of the temptation are similar.
Did this desert experience really happen? Was it a fast-induced hallucination? Or a series of temptations Jesus struggled with throughout his ministry, such as the time the people wanted to raise him as their king, and which Gospel writers creatively turned into one temptation experience?