“Jesus was in the wilderness forty days being tempted by Satan; and He was with the wild beasts and the angels were ministering to Him.” (Mark 1:13)
In the Bible, the number 40 is a number of testing. It rained on Noah for 40 days and 40 nights; Moses spent 40 years in exile; Israel spent 40 years in the wilderness; Jesus spent 40 days in the desert; and now we are committed to 40 days of pursuing God more earnestly.
Mark’s Gospel tells us that during His 40 days in the wilderness (before His ministry began), Jesus “was with the wild beasts and the angels were ministering to Him.” Wild beasts and angels? It sounds rugged and wild; dangerous and safe all at the same time. And Mark is the only gospel writer to mention the wild beasts. I’m glad he did.
It feels much safer for us to fast in a civilized way under controlled conditions—no desert wandering; no wild beasts to threaten us.
But there’s a surprise.
The beasts are alive and well. Perhaps we lack the eyesight to see the battle raging in the heavenlies for our souls, but we ought not underestimate its reality. Our resolve to pursue God through a Lenten fast will attract all kinds of spiritual danger, often felt in discouragement, distraction, or accusations of hypocrisy and unworthiness.
But alongside the beasts come the angels and the Spirit of God. Hear their words of affirmation. Listen to the Father’s confirmation. You are the beloved children of God—fast or no fast, success or failure, intensity or apathy. Be sure to rest on that constantly during this season.
Lord Jesus, grant me the discernment and the courage to stand firm for You and with You in this Journey. Lift my eyes, today, to the things above. Help me stay fixed on You. Amen.