Have you ever wondered what Jesus did for 40 days and nights in the desert?
The Gospels give us few details about the event. The Holy Spirit led Jesus into the wilderness. Jesus didn’t eat anything during the entire trip. Satan tempted Jesus in three different ways and Jesus responded with three different Scriptures. Satan realized his defeat and left Jesus alone for a season.
But is it possible that Jesus meditated?
Meditation in the Desert
In response to Satan’s three temptations, Jesus quoted from from the book of Deuteronomy, specifically from verses 8:3; 6:16, and 6:13 in our modern Bibles. All three passages are very close to each other in Deuteronomy.
I think it’s safe to say that Jesus didn’t have a portable scroll of Deuteronomy with Him!
This would imply two things: (1) Jesus definitely memorized the Scriptures from Deuteronomy and (2) Jesus probably meditated on that passage before He was tempted.
It makes sense that this passage would have been fresh on His mind if He had meditated on it during His time in the wilderness. But even if Jesus wasn’t meditating on the passage right then, He must have done so in the past. It seems clear that Jesus had already thought through how those Scriptures were applicable to His life.
Biblical Support that Jesus Meditated
Meditation simply means to stop and think about something, while Christian meditation means to think about something related to Christianity, such as God’s working in your life or a passage of Scripture.
In the very least, I think there is biblical support that Jesus meditated on Scripture. My first line of reasoning would be that Jesus fulfilled the OT law perfectly (Matthew 5:17), and that included commandments like this from Joshua 1:8:
“This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.”
In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus provided unique applications of OT laws such as further defining hate as murder and lust as adultery. This implies that He spent time thinking through these texts and their application.
Almost every time Jesus quotes Scripture it is from memory, such as when Jesus used the OT to settle theological debates (Mark 12:35-37; Matthew 22:31-32). Jesus often said to others, “Have you not read?” and “It is written.” On the road to Emmaus in Luke 24:27, we find that Jesus explained all of the OT Scriptures that spoke of Him. Again, this could only happen if Jesus first meditated on those OT passages.
Jesus often got away to spend time with God in prayer (Mark 1:35). I am sure this included meditation on Scripture since again He didn’t have a portable OT. The author of Hebrews tells us that Jesus was able to endure the cross because He focused on “the joy that was set before him” (Hebrews 12:2). Jesus also taught His followers to not be anxious about their lives, but to instead meditate on God’s goodness as demonstrated in creation (Matthew 6:25-34).
Christians Must Meditate
So how should we begin to practice meditation like Jesus?
I think Jesus’ example in the desert is the best place to start. Choose a passage of Scripture to read and memorize one phrase that speaks to you. Then throughout your day, meditate on that Scripture and how it applies to your life.
My favorite example of meditation is from 2 Timothy 2:7 where Paul says, “Think over what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding in everything.” Meditation is as simple as that. All we have to do is think over what Scripture says, and God will speak to us!