May 17 I Tuesday
1 Chronicles 1-3
“But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that it will not be obvious to others that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.” —Matthew 6:17-18
Why should we fast? If we call ourselves a Christian, Jesus assumes it of us. He said, “But when you fast…” (Matthew 6:17). Did we notice that Jesus did not say, “if you fast” but “when you fast”? In other words, if we are a disciple of Jesus, we are to fast—we cannot get around it. But sometimes, it could feel like “We have to do it because Jesus said so,” and does not get to the reason behind it. Maybe a better question is: Why does Jesus call Christians to fast?
In the early church father Tertullian’s book On Fasting, he traces why we fast all the way back to Genesis. In Genesis 2:16, God told Adam, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden.” This speaks of God’s provision, where Adam had all the things he could ever want in the garden. But God continued, “You must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die” (Genesis 2:17). God specifically told Adam which tree he must abstain—he must fast—from. Adam and Eve had one obvious choice when it came to sin: obedience to God or self-indulgence. If they fasted from that tree, they would not die. For us, we have many opportunities to sin in our life, which should perhaps give us even more reason to fast and focus our attention on God.
As the events in Genesis unfolded, the serpent came and deceived Eve, who ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, and gave some to Adam who also ate it. As sin entered the world, brokenness became part of creation. God found what Adam and Eve did and pronounced judgment over them and a curse on the serpent. He said, “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; He will crush your head, and you will strike His heel” (Genesis 3:15). Even though Adam and Eve sinned, God, in His mercy, provided a way to heal humanity’s brokenness as this verse is the first prophecy about Jesus. Although the mark of sin would be the struck heel on humanity, Jesus would crush the serpent’s head and invite us back into God’s perfect provision.
When Jesus lived, He did what Adam and Eve could never do—He perfectly fasted from sin in order to make provision for us. Jesus died on the cross for our sins. When we fast, we join Jesus, recognizing that His provision is enough and coming alongside Him in His mission of redemption and restoration for all of humanity.
Prayer: Lord Heavenly Father, thank You for sending Jesus to redeem and restore all humanity from sin. Please reveal to me what sin I need to fast from. In Jesus’s name I pray, amen!