Turning Stones into Bread
Not long ago, someone asked me why Jesus was tempted of the devil since He is God, and there really isn’t anything the devil can offer Jesus that is not already his? I had never really thought about it and I found myself wondering the same thing. Why would Jesus be tempted and why is it included in the scriptures?
We read of Jesus’ first encounter with Satan in the wilderness in Matthew 4:1-4: Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil. After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread”. Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man does not live by bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”
The first thing I noticed is that Jesus was led into the desert by the Spirit and that his fasting was a deliberate action on his part. He could have easily obtained food or left the desert at any time. His purpose for being in the desert for forty days was to be alone and to face the challenges of Satan. He knew he had a painful and difficult journey ahead of him; one that would lead to a cruel cross. After he began his ministry, there were many times that he withdrew from the crowds to be alone and to pray.
According to William Barclay in his commentary of Matthew, the Greek word in this account for tempted is “tested”. In this account of the first temptation in the wilderness, Satan tested Jesus without success by appealing to the needs and desires of the flesh. Satan tempted Jesus to use his supernatural power selfishly for his own purpose. And Satan tempts us to sin in the same way by using any gifts God has given us for our own selfish gain or to bring attention to ourselves. Jesus used the Scriptures to rebuke Satan and that is how we can also have victory. However, we must study and become familiar enough with God’s Word to be able to resist temptation when we are tested.
Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman who needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. 2 Timothy 2:15
For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Hebrews 4:12
This would be one of many times that Jesus would be tested and have victory over Satan. Jesus was challenged all through the days of his ministry on earth by religious leaders and sometimes by his followers. When Jesus predicted his death and resurrection in Mark 8:31-33, Peter rebuked him.
He (Jesus) spoke plainly about this, and Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. But when Jesus turned and looked at his disciples, he rebuked Peter, “Get thee behind me, Satan”! He said. “You do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men.” Mark 8:32-33
Jesus knew that it was Satan who was behind Peter’s action and once again Jesus proved that he was God, the creator, and that Satan, the created, had no power over him. And never in the history of mankind has there been a greater testing than what happened to Jesus in Gethsemane before he was arrested and on the cross at Golgotha where he was crucified. (Luke 22:42-44 and Luke 23:33)
Jesus knew how important it is to be alone with God and to talk with God and listen to what God has to tell us. If Jesus realized this, having the supernatural power that he has, and the close intimate relationship he has with the Father, it is truly important for us who are weak and sinful to spend time with him every day.