We cannot perform a miracle by telling a “stone” to turn into “bread”. But we can display a similar perversion of the “best practices” for living our life. How? By devoting our life to seeking “bread” instead of putting into practice “every word that comes from the mouth of God.”
Near the beginning of his public ministry, Jesus was filled with the Holy Spirit. (Luke 4:1).
Instinctively, I feel this means that Jesus would use the Holy Spirit to perform amazing miracles to impress everybody and convince them that Jesus spoke the words of God.
But my instincts are wrong. The Holy Spirit did not lead Jesus to perform impressive miracles. Instead, the Holy Spirit led Jesus into the wilderness to be tempted for 40 days.
Some aspects of these temptations are specific to Jesus. Was he the Messiah? How would he prove he was the Messiah? What would he do as the Messiah?
Each of us experiences different wildernesses. Each of us experiences different temptations. Each of us experiences temptations for different periods of time.
Nevertheless, we-who-are-not-Messiahs experience many temptations that are similar to the temptations that Jesus experienced when the Holy Spirit led him into a “wilderness” for “40-days”.
The first temptation arose naturally because Jesus was hungry. During the 40-days that Jesus resisted temptations, Jesus fasted. He became hungry. (Matthew 4:2).
The devil urged him to “tell this stone to become bread.” (Luke 4:3-4). Unlike us, Jesus could have spoken a word that turned that stone into bread.
Nevertheless, Jesus refused. He answered “It is written: ‘[People] shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” (Matthew 4:4, quoting Deuteronomy 8:3).
We cannot perform such a miracle by telling a “stone” to turn into “bread”. But we can display a similar perversion of the “best practices” for living our life.
How? By devoting our life to seeking “bread” instead of putting into practice “every word that comes from the mouth of God.”
The most obvious way we perform this perverted “miracle” to turn “stones” into “bread” is by devoting all our time and energy to our career in order to gain power and money for ourselves.
Jesus condemned anyone like this who foolishly “stores up things for themselves but is not rich toward God.” (Luke 12:21).
Instead, we need to study the words of God in the Law and in the Prophets, meditate upon them, and put them into practice. (Deuteronomy 6:1-25; Psalm 1:1-6; Psalm 19:1-14; Isaiah 55:1-13; Matthew 5:17; 7:24-33).
Jesus made this point a number of times.
In his Sermon on the Mount, Jesus warned us that “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.” (Matthew 6:24).
You cannot live on bread alone, yet still put into practice “every word that comes from the mouth of God.”
Furthermore, there is no reason to worry about having enough “bread” in your life. The way to overcome this worry that tempts us to live on “bread” alone is by living “on every word that comes from the mouth of God.”
As Jesus explained in his Sermon on the Mount, “[D]o not worry, saying ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”
Living “on every word that comes from the mouth of God” is the Way to live and to love. Living this Way of Jesus empowers us to enjoy life and to enjoy it to the full. (John 10:10).
Living “on every word that comes from the mouth of God” empowers us to express our faith through love that is not choked “by life’s worries, riches and pleasures.” (Galatians 5:6; Luke 8:14).
Living “on every word that comes from the mouth of God” shows we have “a good and noble heart” that empowers us “to hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop . . . . yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown” (Luke 8:15; Matthew 13:23).
For my additional Lenten thoughts, please read my blogs “Fear Not the Pestilence That Stalks in the Darkness”, “Do Not Jump Off the Temple”, and “Do Not Seek the Kingdoms of This World and Their Authority”.
For my additional thoughts on the Temptations of Jesus, please read the Chapter “Jesus Is Tempted” in my book Hoping in the LORD, at pages 71-91.
For my additional thoughts on the Parable of the Sower, please read the Chapter “Jesus Tells the Parable of the Sower” in my book Hoping in the LORD, at pages 129-135.