Thursday, August 7, 2008

Make this stone into bread...

1 And Jesus being full of the Holy Ghost returned from Jordan, and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness,
2 Being forty days tempted of the devil. And in those days he did eat nothing: and when they were ended, he afterward hungered.
3 And the devil said unto him, If thou be the Son of God, command this stone that it be made bread.
4 And Jesus answered him, saying, It is written, That man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God. (Luke 4:1-4)
This is one of those episodes that we read over really quick and we assume that we know exactly what it means. “Duh! Man needs more than food to live! Man needs the word of God! Okay, next!”

Today, I ran across this incident in my reading and I noticed something that didn’t quite make sense to me. Christ is hungry after fasting 40 days. (it just boggles my mind that someone could fast for that long!) The devil is quick to offer a solution—“You’re the Son of God; just make some stones into bread!” I didn’t get why Christ resists this temptation by saying that He needs something else—the word of God--to live too. As if He says, "Yeah, so what? I'd rather read my scriptures right now."

I'm thinking, "Yes, you need the word of God, but right now, you are physically hungry!! How is the word of God going to solve that?! You might DIE!! What good is a Savior that lets Himself die of hunger!?"

A-ha! But if Christ is really the offspring of God and a mortal woman, then He won’t die…unless He decides it is time. No one could take His life from Him without His consent, no physical privation or stress could make His spirit leave that tabernacle unless He agreed to go. He had complete freedom to decide when and where and under what circumstances He would give up the ghost. (If He didn’t, how could His death be a voluntary sacrifice?)

How would Christ know when it was time to die? He had to have guidance about this, because so much depended upon it. He got that guidance from the word of God, both through personal revelation and the prophecies recorded in the scriptures. He lived by the word of God.

So when His stomach told Him that He was going to die if He didn’t eat immediately, and the temptation to change rocks to food came, because Christ knew His own nature and destiny and was committed to it, He knew being hungry wouldn’t kill Him. So, if hunger couldn’t kill Him, the body could wait a little longer for Him to get some bread the right way.

So what does this mean for us today? I consider this story of Christ valuable, because it shows that even a very urgent biological need can be put off a little while longer. It shows me that we can ignore the alarms of our biological clocks and live by the Lord’s schedule. We can refrain from sexual intimacy until He says it is right, and the Lord says it is right between a man and a woman lawfully married. We don’t have to eat all the time when we are hungry. If the Lord asks us to wait, it is for our good.


S.Faux said...

Excellent observations. You almost are striking a contrast between Jesus' hierarchy of needs versus that of Abraham Maslow's. In the Jesus hierarchy, spiritual needs are primary -- everything else is secondary.

Michaela Stephens said...

Interesting point; I hadn't thought of it quite like that, but I can see that you are right! I wonder what our lives would be like if we treated spiritual needs as primary needs..

Personally, I'm trying to learn how to live so that I put the Lord first in my life. I've gotten in the habit of reading my scriptures while I'm eating breakfast, but I'm still training myself to put church duties at the top of my to-do list.

How do you put spiritual needs first in your life?

S.Faux said...

I guess I am thinking that spiritual needs include Church, family, and service to others (including some aspects of our paid vocations). For me, it has been a life-long effort to lose my selfishness for the sake of the kingdom of God. The good news is that I have improved with time, but I am still learning.

The scriptures themselves have been my greatest help. I usually study an hour in the morning and sometimes at night as well. Like you, my essays are often a product of that scripture study.