Aleteia logoAleteia logo
Sunday 26 September |
Saint of the Day: Sts Cosmas and Damian
home iconSpirituality
line break icon

Where did Jesus fast for 40 days?


Michele Benericetti | Flickr CC by ND 2.0

Philip Kosloski - published on 03/05/19

And how the possible location can inspire our experience of Lent.

In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus is baptized by St. John the Baptist in the Jordan river and then “Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil” (Matthew 4:1).

Both the Gospels of Mark and Luke have a similar narrative, placing Jesus at the Jordan River immediately before his temptation in the wilderness. While Christian tradition often describes Jesus’ temptation as occurring in a “desert,” the Greek word used (eremos) primarily means a location that is isolated, uninhabited and unfit for pasture.

The Gospels never mention a specific place, but local tradition claims Jesus spent his days on a mountain near the Jordan River, currently called the “Mountain of Temptation.” It is a mountain of sheer rock and would have been difficult to ascend. It is a place where no one lives or travels through, and would have offered Jesus a solitary place completely cut off from the world around him.

There are many caves in this mountain, and in the first few centuries after Jesus’ death, Christian monks and hermits took up residence in the caves, devoting themselves to lives of solitary prayer. Eventually a monastery was built there, and over the years different monastic communities have lived on the mountain they believe was the place of Jesus’ temptation.

While it’s unknown if this location was the exact place where Jesus spent his days of fasting, it is certainly potentially the site, and Christians have held for centuries that this was the place where Jesus was led into the “wilderness.”

The isolation of this mountain reminds us to find our own “wilderness” during Lent and spend time each day away from everyone, contemplating God and his mysterious plan. For some of us this might be an actual place in the “wilderness” around us, away from the business of modern life. For others this might simply mean going to your bedroom and turning off all of your electronics, spending time in the silence and isolation.

Wherever your “wilderness” might be, let us be inspired by Jesus’ actions and take time away from the world to refresh our souls.


Read more:
Is this where Jesus turned water into wine?

Read more:
Is Lent Feeling Limp? Maybe You Should Go Into the Wilderness

Support Aleteia!

If you’re reading this article, it’s thanks to the generosity of people like you, who have made Aleteia possible.

Here are some numbers:

  • 20 million users around the world read every month
  • Aleteia is published every day in seven languages: English, French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Polish, and Slovenian
  • Each month, readers view more than 50 million pages
  • Nearly 4 million people follow Aleteia on social media
  • Each month, we publish 2,450 articles and around 40 videos
  • We have 60 full time staff and approximately 400 collaborators (writers, translators, photographers, etc.)

As you can imagine, these numbers represent a lot of work. We need you.

Support Aleteia with as little as $1. It only takes a minute. Thank you!

Daily prayer
And today we celebrate...

Top 10
J-P Mauro
Chicago architect models Vatican City from 67,000 LEGO bricks
Philip Kosloski
Why J.R.R. Tolkien loved to attend daily Mass
Cecilia Pigg
7 Ways the saints can help you sleep better at night
The Sinai Peninsula and the Dead Sea Rift
J-P Mauro
Experts now believe Sodom was destroyed by a meteor
Bret Thoman, OFS
Exclusive photos: Meet Padre Pio and the place he lived
Philip Kosloski
How Our Lady saved Padre Pio from a violent demonic attack
Cerith Gardiner
9 Padre Pio quotes for when you’re feeling scared or uncertain
See More
Get Aleteia delivered to your inbox. Subscribe here.