Relevant Scripture: Matthew 4:1-11
After 40 days and 40 nights of fasting, Jesus finally became hungry. I would have been famished a mere 40 hours in. Nevertheless, when the enemy comes to tempt Jesus to turn the stones around him into loaves of bread to eat, Jesus responds by saying, “It is written, ‘One does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”
Have you ever been in the kitchen to smell fresh baked bread being pulled out of the oven? The smell that immediately fills the air is nothing short of heavenly. I imagine the enemy tempting Jesus to turn those stones into piping hot, sweet-smelling loaves of bread. But Jesus refrains. Though my heart is lifted just imagining pulling apart a loaf of freshly baked bread, watching the steam escape through the cracked open crust, Jesus testifies of something much more satisfying.
“One does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.” Better than fresh baked bread, and all that life has to offer, is every word that comes from the mouth of God. Do we live longing for every word that comes from God? Like our stomach groans with hunger pains, does our soul ache for God to speak to us? Is God’s word our very life and breath?
Once the tempter has tempted plenty, Jesus says, “Away with you, Satan! For it is written, ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve only him.’” Only him. Only God. Once Jesus says this, the enemy leaves him.
Paul writes in his letter to the Romans, “Let love be genuine; hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good” (12:9). In our world today, we have gotten pretty good at hating what is evil, but we often fail to hold fast to what is good. I fear we have forgotten what good is.
In the wilderness, Jesus shows us not only what is good, but what is better. The enemy comes to tempt Jesus when he is at his weakest. Rather than merely hating what is evil, Jesus holds fast to what is good. By speaking out the good and life-giving word of God, evil flees from him. The enemy leaves him.
Father God, we spend so much time fleeing from what is evil, that we forget to cling to what is good. We confess that we have hungered for so much more than you, God. We want to worship and serve you, only. We want to live by every word that comes from your mouth. Help us to position ourselves to hear from you. We believe your word is better than life. Help us believe by the power and presence of your Holy Spirit who indwells us. Amen.
From Baylor University Theological Seminary’s Lenten Resource Kit