Much as I like bread, particularly when toasted, I wouldn’t want my diet to simply consist of bread. When Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, we read that He was tempted by the devil for forty days. During that time Jesus ate nothing and, not surprisingly, at the end of them He was hungry. So, we read that the devil said to Him, “If you are the Son of God, tell this stone to become bread.” To which Jesus answered, “It is written: “Man shall not live on bread alone.” But what would have been so wrong in Jesus doing just that?
To answer that question, we need to look back to where this quote was written and ask ourselves what the original context was. References in our modern bibles will tell us that the verse Jesus quoted came from Chapter 8 of the book of Deuteronomy.
The book of Deuteronomy looks back to the time when Moses addressed the people of God who had just spent almost forty years wandering around the wilderness enroute to the Promised Land. Now this journey need not have taken so long if the people had trusted in God forty years earlier. But, sadly, they hadn’t and consequently God used their wilderness wanderings to teach them many lessons, not least that God could be trusted to take care of His people.
The desolation of the wilderness removed the natural props and supports which the people depended on. It therefore caused them to trust God, who alone could provide what they needed to survive. The wilderness was a severe testing ground for the people of God which taught them that their ultimate survival rested not in their own strength and self-sufficiency but rather in their trust in God. When the people were hungry in the wilderness, God fed them manna, ‘bread from heaven’. The miraculous provision of this manna was designed to teach the Israelites that God was their basic source of life, and that every utterance from God was more basic to their existence than even food!
Not surprisingly then, when tempted by the devil to rely on His own strength and self-sufficiency, Jesus quoted this verse as a reminder that He would not live that way, but rather be an example of how to live in total dependency on God.
Now all this isn’t to say that we should expect God to provide for all our needs supernaturally. But it is to say that, when we act in obedience to God’s leading, we can be sure that God Himself will provide all that we need.
Prayer: Dear Father, help me to remember today that when I obey Your commands, I can rely on You to provide all that I need. Help me to resist the pull to self-reliance but rather to put my trust in You. Amen.
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