After His Baptism by John in the Jordan Jesus was led by the Holy Spirit into the wilderness, which is an icon/symbol of the world-a battleground. That’s why the Epistle for the Saturday after Epiphany is Ephesians 6:1-17 where Saint Paul teaches about the Armor of God and fighting the forces of evil. No one, no matter how holy they are, is free from temptation. Even Jesus was tempted.
Fasting is necessary for spiritual maturation and growth. Holiness is not compatible with gluttony. Jesus’ fasting enables Him to overcome temptation because He is not dominated by fleshly passions and desires. Through fasting, Jesus shows us one of the most powerful tools to do battle against the devil and temptation.
Every temptation is based in pride. The devil says to Jesus, “If You are the Son of God” (vv.3,6). Satan says to us, “If you are smart…if you are beautiful…if you are talented…if you are….” In other words, he is setting us up by puffing us up to exalt ourselves to think we don’t need anyone or anything to depend on, especially God.
Saint Paul’s letter to the Ephesians 6:10-17
Brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we are not contending against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand, therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the equipment of the gospel of peace; besides all these, taking the shield of faith, with which you can quench all the flaming darts of the evil one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
The Gospel of Matthew 4:1-11
At that time, Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And He fasted forty days and forty nights, and afterward He was hungry. And the tempter came and said to Him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.” But He answered, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.’” Then the devil took Him to the holy city, and set Him on the pinnacle of the temple, and said to Him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down; for it is written, ‘He will give His angels charge of you,’ and ‘On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.’” Jesus said to him, “Again, it is written, ‘You shall not tempt the Lord your God.’” Again, the devil took Him to a very high mountain, and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and the glory of them; and he said to Him, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.” Then Jesus said to him, “Be gone, Satan! for it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God and Him only shall you serve.’” Then the devil left Him, and behold, angels came and ministered to Him.