More Important than Food?

The landscape was barren.  "Wilderness" is all we are told.  No food, no water, no comfortable shelter, no communication with the outside world. 

Forty days.

Not a pretty picture, not a desirable situation.  I'd probably be complaining after forty minutes. 

Hot, dry, lonely, and empty.  That's where Jesus found himself in Matthew 4: in the wilderness, alone, hungry, and physically weak.

There are reasons why he chose this path, why someone would go to the wilderness for alone time with God, but that's another matter.  The Bible doesn't go into many details about "why," it just says that the Spirit led him there.  Good enough.

Now, enter the enemy: the devil.  His goal, obviously, is to get Jesus to commit the same type of sin that Adam and Eve committed so long ago.  If the devil could get Jesus to cave, he would surely win the battle of good and evil forever.  Evil would reign.  Jesus Christ alone stood between hope and a world of eternal darkness.  The devil knew this, and felt this to be an opportune time.

"If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread."

Ah, a test.  A temptation cloaked in reason.  And why not?  Why not make bread, Jesus?  You could.  You could make a feast out of thin air.  You could end the hunger, the thirst, and feel great again.  And in the meantime, you could stand up to this devil's challenge.  You could prove yourself.

Jesus got that a lot, all the way to the end.  "Prove yourself, Jesus, then we'll believe," chanted the faithless; in cities across Galilee, in his hometown of Nazareth, even at the cross, when the crowds jeered, "Come down and save yourself, if you are the Son of God!"

It was here in the wilderness that Jesus first said no to self-aggrandizement.  It was here on a deserted, rocky hillside that he announced his intention to pursue God's will above his own, no matter what.  Today he would echo the sentiment later expressed in an even more trying circumstance: "Father, if it is possible, let this cup (death on the cross) pass from me, but not my will, let yours be done."

Our Lord knew his mission.  He knew what he was sent to do.

The devil could see Jesus' famished body.  If Adam chose to eat of the forbidden fruit in a time of great plenty, surely Jesus would cave to temptation in a time of great want.  But no.

Jesus answered, "It is written, 'Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.'"

He wouldn't allow his physical desires to trump his spiritual calling.  He knew the words of God mattered; obeying those words mattered even more.  More than food.

Jesus withstood other temptations that day, and every day.  He "overcame the world."  And by his victory, we are given hope.  What the first man Adam couldn't resist, Jesus did.  Where each of us fell to the enemy, Jesus stood up and refused the poison.  As the Bible says, "he was tempted in every way, just as we are, yet was without sin."

For that, we must say thank you.  Jesus' obedience made it possible for us to enter the plan of God ourselves.  All because he stood up.  The word of God meant more to him than food. 

What priority do the words of God have in your life, today?  Does the truth of the Bible give you strength to defeat temptation?  It can, and it should.  It all depends on what place you give it in your heart.  It all depends on what is most important to you.

Jesus said, "Blessed are those hear the word of God and obey it."

Dan originally wrote this article for publication in the Marco Island Sun Times.


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