Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And after fasting forty days and forty nights, 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 comes from the mouth of God.’”~Matthew 4:1-4
Yesterday, my reading for the day was about the temptation of Jesus in the desert. I've always thought this passage was pretty significant because of what it has to tell me about when and where and how the enemy might choose to attack me as well. So, as I read it once again yesterday, I wanted to pay close attention to what God had to say to me through it.
And I'll have to admit right from the start that I always thought it was a bit curious that the Spirit led Jesus into the desert to be tempted to begin with. I don't even pretend to know all of what God was up to during those forty days, but it does at least give me some confidence that he was definitely up to something. And oftentimes I need that confidence, especially when I am in the very midst of hard or trying circumstances myself. Especially when I am in the midst of desert-like experiences. I need to be reminded constantly that God always has intention and is always about accomplishing his purposes, both in me and through me. And it is quite possible that those purposes can be accomplished in no other way. Obviously Jesus knew this, and trusted in the Spirit's leading.
It is also worth noting that the temptation came at the end of the forty days of desert fasting; the time when Jesus (humanly speaking) was the most vulnerable. The time when he was the most needy, if that's even a word we can use of Jesus. The time when he was the most hungry. Thus, those are the very times when we really need to be "on our toes," because those are the times when the enemy is most likely to come whispering to us as well.
And look at the approach. "If you really are the Son of God..." Trying from the very outset to stir up doubt about identity and belonging, mission and calling, and the heart of a Father who would send his children to a place such as this. The enemy knows that if he can cause us to doubt the goodness of God's heart, or the goodness of our own position in the heavenly family, and if he can make us question the Father's enormous affection for us, then he has a foothold toward us beginning to believe his lies and his deception.
"If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread." Or, in others words, "Make something food that was never intended to be food. Take matters into your own hands. Feed yourself. Be self-sufficient. After all, you're hungry. You've got a right to care for your own needs." It is a familiar mindset in our world. One that is even applauded and held up as an inspiration and an example of character and strength.
But Jesus knew better. “It is written, “‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” he replied. And a beautiful reply it is. As a matter of fact, I'm not sure I fully understood the true temptation until I heard his response. "I will feed on nothing, or no one, other than God. It is on him alone that I will feed." Bulls eye! Direct hit! Right to the heart. Because I tend to feed on so many things other than Jesus. I feed on affirmation. I feed on achievement. I feed on attention. I feed on applause. I feed on reputation. The list goes on and on. God desires me to feed only on him, for then, and only then, will I be able to love those he has called me to love without feeding on them. Therefore, when I am hungry in the depths of my soul. When I am starving to be loved, or cared for, or noticed, or affirmed, I really need to be careful because the enemy is very subtle. And before I know it, I will stop feeding on Jesus and start feeding on the very people Jesus has called me to feed. And the kicker is that I might never know the difference until it's almost too late; until my soul is near death, until I am starving for the bread I was truly created to eat (see John 6:48-51), and until those that I have been called to feed have been devoured and have also devoured me in the process; in one gigantic dysfunctional feeding frenzy.
O Lord Jesus, Bread of Life, help me to feed on you and you alone. For man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.
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