Luke 4:3-4 (CEV)
3 The devil said to Jesus, “If you are God’s Son, tell this stone to turn into bread.”
4 Jesus answered, “The Scriptures say, ‘No one can live only on food.’”
Temptation #1 – “I Need …”
They begged and begged and begged for freedom from their slavery for years. After collectively enduring what may have been months of plagues, Pharoah had finally agreed to let the Israelites go. But it wasn’t long before the Israelites started complaining again – complaining that they had been dragged into the wilderness to die; complaining that it would have been better if they had stayed in Egypt as slaves; that Moses couldn’t be trusted and neither could God.
But God knew that the Israelites could never be all He designed them to be if they stayed slaves in Egypt. The vision was for them to be His people, to live out a taste of Kingdom living in the world until Jesus came.
And it’s hard to live free, full lives when you’re a slave.
It’s difficult to welcome foreigners, increase the level of dignity offered to women and children and the disabled in your community when you’re a slave.
It’s difficult to improve the way your country treats the environment when you have no power because you’re a slave.
So God knew that the Israelites needed more than just food if they were going to experience the full life He designed them to live. He knows they need land and a home and community and structure and connection to and knowledge of God and His ways. That means He knew that this process was worth it. That the journey would be part of this rag-tag group of people becoming His people. But none of this means He forgot that they also need to eat. It’s just not the only thing they needed.
God’s vision is bigger than the grumbling stomachs of the Israelites. But His vision is also detailed enough to know they need to eat.
It was my first birth, and it had been a long one. We were about 43 hours in. And the mama was done. She needed them to “cut this baby out of her”. She needed them to “knock her out”. She needed me to “make it stop”. Her vision for this birth had gone out the window with her failed epidural. All she had was this exact moment, this exact exhaustion, this exact pain. Desperation was all she had.
But I knew her story, and my vision was bigger in that moment. I knew how much of an overcoming this was for her. I knew that she wasn’t about to get a c-section from the doctors, because nothing was medically wrong, but I also knew that for her to have the confidence she was going to need as a mom, she needed to do this. And so I finally coaxed her to change positions “one more time” “while we wait for the nurse to come back” while I worked to help her stay as comfortable as possible, reminded her to breathe and prayed with everything in me for this baby to turn. And finally her baby turned and the head came down just enough and she was finally able to feel the urge to push. The pain subsided just enough and her attention focused just enough and she was able to push. And with lots of support and encouragement, push she did, and her beautiful, healthy little baby was born just an hour later, birthing with her an incredibly strong, capable new mama.
And back with the ancient Israelites? Well, for the next forty years God feeds them in the desert with manna. Five days a week for forty years, God provides food for the next day. One day a week, God provides food for the next two days, so that the people can rest on the Sabbath. Every single mouthful of bread that the people eat for the next forty years comes miraculously to the people from God.
And Jesus, after fasting for forty days, responds to the temptation to turn stones into bread with a bigger perspective.
We know from yesterday that Jesus is fully human. Ultimately that does mean he needs to eat. But because we know from Saturday that Jesus is also fully God, he shows us that sometimes these physical needs aren’t the only thing going on. Apparently it would have messed with the plan if Jesus had just given in and turned the stones to bread. Apparently it would have got in the way of getting him to where he needed to be to do the work God had called him to do. Apparently there’s a bigger picture than just Jesus’ hunger at stake … even though God’s also about to deal with that as well.Journal Questions:
- What are you currently hungering for? How are you tempted to respond to your hunger?
- Do you honestly think that God knows the details of your hunger?
- Is it possible there’s a bigger picture going on?
- What would it mean to trust God with your details?
- What would it mean to trust God with the bigger picture of your life in this area?
- Would you be willing to take some time today to ask God to show you His best for you in this situation and then sit in silence for five to ten minutes to listen and see how God might respond?
- Part of why this experience was such a temptation for Jesus was because he was alone in the wilderness. When we are alone, temptations are harder to bear. Who could you connect with this week to share your “hunger” with who might be able to help you persevere in the face of temptation, or help you see the bigger picture?