Here are two short sections from a wonderful piece about fasting (and feasting) from Peter Leithart. It’s a very positive article about the part of Christianity that is saying “no.” A good read for modern people unaccustomed/hostile to hearing “no” and for ordinary evangelicals (like me) still a little confused about Lent. I strongly recommend it all….
This helps us see where Adam’s fast fits in. Yahweh did give Adam a law of fasting, but only after inviting him to a feast. In the Bible, feasting is prior to, more fundamental than, fasting. “Eat, drink, and rejoice” is the first word God speaks to Adam, and it is the last word Jesus speaks to His bride. Fasting is essential to the story, but fasts are always ordered to feasts.
Of course, Adam didn’t want to wait. Eve saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food, and desirable to make one wise, so she ate and Adam joined in. Adam sinned because he wanted it all now – wisdom, authority, a full belly, the whole abundant goodness of creation, now. He sinned because he grabbed for the feast. He sinned because he didn’t keep the fast, and as a result even the appetizers he already had were taken from him.
Jesus is the Last Adam because He keeps the fast. He enters a world that is no longer a garden, but a howling waste, and in that wilderness Satan tempts Him to break the fast, to be an Adam: “You’re hungry; eat this now. You deserve the accolades of the crowds; you can have it now if you jump off the temple. You want all authority in heaven and on earth, but your Father won’t give that to you unless you suffer an excruciating, shameful death; you can have it all now, no cross or self-denial required. It’s yours, and you only need to do a bit of bowing. Life, glory, power, everything you want, everything you deserve – you can have it all now.”
Jesus refused, and refused, and then refused again, and in so doing broke the power of Adamic sin. Jesus kept the fast; He waited, labored, suffered, died, and then opened His hand to receive all life, all glory and honor, all authority and dominion, that His Father had to give Him. He kept the fast, and as a result was admitted to the fullness of the kingdom’s feast, because by that time both it and He were ready. And by resisting the devil, Jesus sets the pattern of true fasting and reveals a Lenten way of life.
Again, please read it all.
Art: Paul Gustave Doré – The Temptation of Jesus