3 And the tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.” 4 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 4:3 - 4
NKJV - 3 Now when the tempter came to Him, he said, "If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread. 4 But He answered and said, "It is written, 'Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.'
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Under different circumstances turning stones into bread would have been just another day in Jesus’ life on earth; however, here Jesus was being tempted by Satan. A short time before this, Jesus was baptized, and a voice from heaven declared “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased” (Matt 3:16, 17). So, Satan knew well who Jesus was and the "If you are the Son of God” was just a provocation. Satan was insinuating to Jesus that, "If you are truly who you say you are, why isn’t your Father taking care of you and leaves you starve in the middle of the desert for 40 days?" By tempting Jesus to do a miracle to fulfill the legitimate need for food, the devil was trying to question Jesus’ identity and provoke Him to use His powers to show off. Rather than trusting God to take care of His needs, Jesus would take things in His own hands to satisfy His appetite. While Jesus was fasting to prepare for the work ahead of Him, and surrender completely to the will of His Father, the devil was hoping that Jesus would give in to His appetite, lose faith in His Father, and work a miracle for His own benefit. The first couple faced the same temptation (Gen. 3:1-6) Jesus faced, the temptation to doubt God and take matters in their own hands by eating the forbidden fruit. Although fully human, Jesus, resisted the devil’s temptations and as soon as Satan left defeated, God’s angels provided the food and comfort He need (Matt 4:11).
Jesus had fasted during His time in the wilderness as an exercise in spiritual discipline by subordinating the desires of His physical nature to God the Father. By telling Him to turn stones into bread (which Jesus could have done at any time during those forty days), Satan was tempting Him to place His fleshly desire for food on a level above His service to God. (Satan also presented this as a challenge to Jesus' divinity by prefacing the temptation by saying to Jesus, "If you are the Son of God...".) Yielding to that temptation would have disobeyed the command to love God the Father with all His heart, soul, mind, and strength by depending on Him to provide for Jesus' physical needs.
Jesus came as a human being to fulfill the will of his Father in heaven and complete the plan of salvation. It was his Father’s will that Jesus should suffer starvation for 40 days without food and water, being tempted in every way as we are, yet without sin. Jesus could have used his power and authority to change the stones into bread to feed himself, but he chose to surrender his will to obey his Father. Jesus made the bold declaration that every word that comes from the mouth of God (ie every word in the bible) reveals God’s will for us. We need to know these words and trust in them, as Jesus did, to sustain our physical and spiritual life. Jesus said we would experience much trouble and suffering in this life. So what will we do? Will we try to take control of every situation with our own power and resources, or will we seek and discern God’s will for our trouble and suffering? Will we surrender our will to God’s will so he can mould and shape us into the people and eternal beings that he created us to be? The bible says that Jesus’s human experience was perfected through suffering. He became the perfect substitute for every human being so he could take our sin upon himself and give us his righteousness instead. Will we allow God to perfect us through our suffering so we will accomplish his plan and purpose for our lives.
If Jesus had turned the stones into bread, it would have proven that He was controlled by hunger. Fasting reveals what a man is controlled by. Jesus was controlled by the Word of God. If we fast, we can learn what controls us. Fasting would reveal it. Hunger can't control us. Fear can't control us. Nothing should control us but God and His Word. "As Thou didst hunger bear, and thirst, So teach us, gracious Lord, To die to self, and chiefly live By Thy most holy Word. " --Claudia Frances Hernaman (1873)
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