HOPE in the Freeze
1 Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted there by the devil. 2 For forty days and forty nights he fasted and became very hungry. 3 During that time the devil came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become loaves of bread.” 4 But Jesus told him, “No! The Scriptures say, ‘People do not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”Matthew 4:1–4 (NLT)
This section of scripture is known as the “Temptations of Jesus.” Right as he was beginning his ministry, Jesus was sent to the wilderness where he was tested. Both Matthew and Luke tell us the details of these three tests.
Commentators have surmised that the gospel writers put the account of the temptations at the forefront of gospels because they provide a template for the ministry of Jesus. In broad brushstrokes, the temptations of Jesus (and his rebuttals) summarize the ploys of the enemy and the way that Jesus brings about hope in the world.
We will notice that the implicit questions in the devil’s temptations are commonly asked and answered by every society everywhere.
- How will people have enough to live on? (“Turn these stones to bread”)
- Is God relevant enough to merit faithfulness to him? (“If you are the son of God, jump off the temple and the angels will catch you”)
- Can you harness the power of politics and consolidated power well enough to impose your vision for the world? (“Bow to me and I’ll give you the kingdoms of the earth”)
The way of the Spirit is to deny the way the world answers these temptations and questions. They are legitimate, but can only be answered through Jesus.
First of all—the devil tempts Jesus to be his own breadmaker.
He tries to put the onus on Jesus to be his own provider. Someone needs to make the bread and the devil tried to tempt Jesus with the same lure that he has used throughout history— the devil wants you to carry the weight of your future on your own back.
What does Jesus say?
“No! The Scriptures say, ‘People do not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”
The scriptures attest to a living God who provides day by day for his people. The scriptures also show us that we are to work for our living, but we must be very careful not to put too much weight on ourselves. Rather, we must allow God to provide.
The way of the Spirit is trusting God with our futures.
In this time of upheaval and financial peril, we are being asked to come back to this primary way of the Spirit: trusting God and not ourselves.
Hope is on the other side of the wilderness testing. We tend to trust ourselves and so give into the temptation of the devil to be our own breadmaker. But, hope will come when we acknowledge that only God can rescue us from this moment.
In the book of Exodus, the people of Israel were wandering in the wilderness. They were hungry. And, God provided. But, he did not provide a royal treasury that would pay for their future. Instead, he gave them just enough so they would learn to trust Him.
As we conclude today, imagine God giving you just enough. Read:
14 When the dew evaporated, a flaky substance as fine as frost blanketed the ground. 15 The Israelites were puzzled when they saw it. “What is it?” they asked each other. They had no idea what it was. And Moses told them, “It is the food the LORD has given you to eat. 16 These are the LORD’s instructions: Each household should gather as much as it needs. Pick up two quarts for each person in your tent.” 17 So the people of Israel did as they were told. Some gathered a lot, some only a little. 18 But when they measured it out, everyone had just enough. Those who gathered a lot had nothing left over, and those who gathered only a little had enough.Exodus 16:14–18 (NLT)
Each family had just what it needed.
May we be people of daily faith who learn to trust that God will give us just what we need.