Rev. Leslie Watkins
He ate nothing at all during those days, and when they were over, he was famished. The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become a loaf of bread.” Jesus answered him, “It is written, ‘One does not live by bread alone.’” Luke 4:2-4
During his 40 days in the wilderness, Jesus fasted. Fasting is a practice we encounter throughout scripture and is a tradition in both the Jewish and Christian faiths. It is a practice that helps us realize our need for God as we empty ourselves to receive clarity, to mourn and to pray. This would likely not have been Jesus’ first fast, as it was a custom in his faith tradition.
We can only imagine how Jesus must have felt at the end of his 40 day fast. Surely his body wanted for food, for nourishment. Not missing an opportunity to thwart goodness in the world, the devil’s temptation comes at him in two ways. First, the devil seeks to confuse Jesus’ identity, to cause Jesus to question who he is. The devil says, “If you are the Son of God…” almost as a dare. Many of us can relate, when our bodies are hungry or tired, or if we feel angry and lonely. We quickly alleviate our wanting with things that might not be good for us. We sometimes forget who we are in order to quickly gratify our bodies’ needs.
Secondly, the devil tempts Jesus to turn stones into bread to eat. Also in the wilderness, Moses turned a rock into water for the Israelites and Jesus knew he would be able to turn stones into bread if he spoke a word. He knew who he was and who it was he was serving. His response to the devil was to quote scripture from Deuteronomy 8:
Remember the long way that the Lord your God has led you these forty years in the wilderness, in order to humble you, testing you to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commandments. He humbled you by letting you hunger, then by feeding you with manna, with which neither you nor your ancestors were acquainted, in order to make you understand that one does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord. (Deuteronomy 8:2-3).
Jesus did not allow his physical desire to lead him away from honoring God. He trusted that God would care for him and fill him with nourishment from heaven.