Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, left the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, where for forty days he was tempted by the devil. He ate nothing during those days, and at the end of them he was hungry. The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, tell this stone to become bread.” Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone.’” -Luke 4:1-4
No man or woman is island onto themselves. The notion that we can live completely independent from God is a lie of Satan. Even Jesus, in all his power and wisdom could not live independent of God the Father. This is the pivotal correction Jesus asserts to Satan: Life does not come from what we eat, but from God.
While the phrase, “man shall not live by bread alone,” seems like a cryptic rejection of Satan’s temptation, Jesus is quoting a powerful text from Deuteronomy 8:3:
He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your ancestors had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.
Jesus is tired, thirsty, and feeling the full effects of his human nature. It is at this point that he is undoubted feeling the most temptation to forget his dependence on the Father, and to use the powerful attributes of his divine nature to overcome his human frailty. Satan of course seizes the opportunity to push Jesus over the edge, to question his identity and calling as the Son of God. Satan realizes that if he can get Jesus to forfeit his human nature, then the sacrifice for human sin on the cross will be meaningless. This is not a simple argument among adversaries, this conversation makes or breaks the whole salvation plan.
Jesus, while hungry and thirsty, responds to Satan with a verse from Deuteronomy that reflects the truth of the human condition: Human beings are nothing apart from God. If we don’t recognize this, then we are full of pride and slowly dying. This scripture is a direct rejection of Satan’s temptation, a temptation that is really slightly altered version of the original lie to Adam and Eve, which caused original sin to mark the human race. Jesus, instead of forfeiting his humanity, completely embraces it, by associating himself as a man who needs the life-giving power of the Father to sustain him. In rejecting reliance on his own power, Jesus confirms his humility, proves he can do what Adam failed to do, and become the perfect sacrifice.
The lesson for us is clear: our lives need to become dependent upon God. North American culture screams at us to embrace our independence, and to become self-reliant. The one who attains “financial freedom,” for instance, is deemed successful. But this is false freedom. False freedom chains us to death. Life without God is not life at all. This is why Jesus says it’s so hard for the rich to enter the Kingdom of God. When we have all we need, based on what we earned or did not earn, we build an attitude that rejects the need for God. It’s not always money, sometimes we have a personality that is driven, and we feel that we don’t need the help of God or other believers. The truth is, we cannot live off our own steam, off our own financial might, and definitely not off our own determination and pride.
What area of your life is Satan tempting you to turn rocks into bread?