In her wonderful Lenten devotional, “40 Days of Decrease”, author Alicia Britt Chole writes, “We are duly thankful, challenged, and inspired by Jesus’ forty-day fast from food in the Judean wilderness. Perhaps we should likewise be grateful, awed, and humbled by His thirty-year fast from praise, power, and potential in Nazareth.” We don’t often consider everything Jesus gave up during the thirty years before we read much of Him in the Bible. We know a little about His first two years of life, and then get another brief glimpse when he was around twelve years of age.
After that, it’s pretty much silent until He steps onto the scene eighteen years later. Through it all, this man was at the same time the almighty Creator of the Universe. He chose to set aside all His power, all His potential, all His right to be praised and lived in the poor and dusty town of Nazareth. This was the ultimate fast. He gave up everything, and He did it for you and me.
While Jesus embarked on the ultimate fast for thirty years, we balk at fasting from pretty much anything for even a day. What could you not conceive of giving up for thirty years? I’ll bet it doesn’t compare to fasting from unlimited power. We can not hope to conceive of what it was like to set aside His power and majesty for thirty years. It’s incredible! Every time he fell and scraped His knee, He had the power to heal it immediately, but He fasted from doing so. When a friend or loved one died, Jesus could have intervened. But from this too He fasted. From all indications, Jesus grew up poor. Still, the God who created food and everything else refrained from making His life easier. This was the ultimate fast indeed.
Consider more deeply the question I asked in passing above: “What do you hold so dear you couldn’t conceive of giving it up for thirty years?” We aren’t God, so let’s bring this down to our disgustingly pitiful level. What couldn’t you give up? Your television? Your cellphone? How about your air conditioning? Or take it up another notch and say perhaps your electricity? While we’re breaking it down, let’s also forget the thirty-year fast. Let’s make it thirty days. What would you find difficult or even impossible to give up for thirty days?
I submit whatever your answer is to this question is an idol in your life. You are placing its value beyond what Jesus can provide. All you need is Jesus. He’ll take care of the rest. Look again at your answer(s) and compare them to what Jesus gave up throughout His ultimate fast. How foolish does the thing you can’t give up seem considering everything Jesus put away? I don’t know your answers but I know mine. Because of this, I can guarantee they are all pathetic. Look at what He sacrificed for You. Really think about it. What are you sacrificing for Him? We can do more. We can do better. Now for the challenge. What if you really did commit to giving up that person, thing, or activity for thirty days and spent the time instead getting to better know the One who embarked on the ultimate fast for you? What do you say?