Last Monday we started looking at Jesus’ first temptation. We studied two elements of that temptation: first, Satan tried to deceive Jesus that the mark of true Sonship was not obedience to the will of the Father, but only the ability to perform a miracle. Second, Satan wanted Jesus to trust in Himself to supply for His needs instead of depending on the Father.
Now, for the third and last element of this first temptation: the devil was trying to make Jesus follow the easy path, or what we could call the “bread way.” Satan tried to divert Jesus from the path to the cross by appealing to His hunger. After fasting for forty days and forty nights Jesus was famished. In His weakened human nature, Jesus was starving in a very real sense. It was at that point, after the forty days and forty nights, that the devil came to Him, tempting Him to make bread from stones.
In this temptation the devil reduced the issue to a mere satisfying of hunger. If Jesus was hungry, why not perform a simple miracle to fix the problem? Would this not be easy for Jesus to do, being the Son of God? Satan brushed aside any reference to seeking the Father’s will, and made the looming issue the satisfying of Jesus’ hunger. To perform a miracle and satisfy hunger was the easy way; to wait upon God’s provision was the hard way.
The real issue at stake when Satan tempted Jesus with making stones into bread was obedience or disobedience to the will of God. Jesus fasted in the wilderness, likely praying often to the Father, keeping the cross before His mind, and trusting in the Father’s provision for Him. To eat the bread represents a much deeper problem than merely satisfying hunger. To turn the stones into bread would have been disobedience to the Father. It would have been seeking an easier way than waiting on God and ultimately an easier way than the cross. To change the stones to bread, and eat of that bread, would be to stop fasting – that is, to stop praying to and depending upon the Father.
We ought not be surprised when the devil takes hold of a legitimate need, and makes it a temptation. Jesus was hungry – not wrong of itself. But Satan twisted this bodily need, this natural desire, to try to make Jesus sin. Can we see this in our own lives? Take the issue of over-eating, for example. We must eat – this is necessary for survival. Food and drink are absolutely necessary for our very existence. But Satan takes that legitimate need and twists it, so that we eat far more than we should. Food becomes our god. Can you see the devil working in this specific way in your life? What other legitimate needs do you have, and do I have, that Satan twists?
As is seen in this element of the temptation, there are always two paths. One path, brothers and sisters, is wide, easy, and attractive. This is the bread way. The other path is narrow and treacherous, with steep mountains and deep, dark valleys. This narrow path is God’s will for our lives. At the end of time, we will be sorely tried. Antichrist will forbid our buying and selling. Our freedoms will be stripped from us. Perhaps we will have to see our own family members undergo painful suffering. Where will Antichrist’s people be? They will be on the bread path enjoying prosperity, freedom, and safety. The temptation to walk the bread path will be grievous in those days, young people! Perhaps even today you are tempted to walk on this broad, easy path. Know that Jesus, your faithful high priest, understands what this kind of temptation is like. He runs to our aid. He will preserve us on the path which is pleasing to God.
Next time we will finish the first temptation by considering Jesus’ answer to the devil.