What if you could have anything you ever wanted? What if you could click your fingers and have your needs satisfied, your wants realized and your desires fulfilled? This would be your very own genie-in-a-bottle scenario without the three-wish restriction.
This sounds really enticing, to have everything your heart desires, whenever you want it. Think about it…food…fame…love…power…riches…peace. From your most basic needs to your most extravagant, nothing would be beyond your reach. And the best part is, you could provide that all by yourself just by wishing it to happen.
All right…pinch yourself…dreamtime is over. Of course, this is not reality for us. It will never happen. But there was one man in history that had the ability to make this happen. Thank God he chose not to.
In Matthew 4, the Bible tells us that the Holy Spirit led Jesus into the wilderness for the expressed purpose of being tempted by the devil. This event occurred at the beginning of his ministry right after he was baptized in the Jordan River. The Bible says in Matthew 4:2 that he fasted for 40 days and 40 nights and afterward he was hungry.
Jesus definitely was feeling like he could need some food. In fact, I would guess that after that long without food, his body was very weak. He could really use some sustenance. So, hoping to take advantage of Jesus’ weakened physical state, the devil arrives with his very first temptation.
Matthew 4:3 says, “And when the tempter came to him, he said, ‘If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.” Wow! What a temptation for that moment in time for Jesus. Satan’s temptation hit him where it hurt the most…his stomach. He was tempting Jesus at the most basic level possible…the human need/desire for survival.
You may be thinking, “What’s the big deal…it’s just bread? The man hasn’t eaten for 40 days. Why shouldn’t Jesus do this?”
Well, for one, the Bible clearly describes this as a temptation from the devil. So giving in would have meant defeat at the hands of his enemy. Secondly, it would have been selfish. Jesus would have demonstrated a desire to take care of his own needs first. Finally, Jesus would have fulfilled his own needs, in his own way, outside the will of his Father. In all these scenarios, Jesus would have failed and not lived up to his promise of being Redeemer and Saviour.
“But he (Jesus) answered and said, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.'” I am struck by what this simple statement tells us about what Jesus valued. We see that he valued:
1. God’s Word. Jesus quoted from memory an Old Testament passage. He valued God’s Word more than bread. At that moment, he would rather meditate on the words of His Father than meet his own physical need of hunger.
2. God’s Provision. Jesus knew God would provide for him. He trusted and relied upon his heavenly Father to meet his needs. He did not worry or fret about how he was going to find food. And he knew spiritual provision was more valuable than physical provision.
3. God’s Timing. Jesus waited on his Father to provide his needs. He chose not to succumb to the quick fix Satan suggested. God knew Jesus was hungry but the time to satisfy that need had not yet come. Jesus would need to experience two more temptations before this trial was completed. In the end, his willingness to trust in God’s timing proved fruitful as angels were sent to minister to him. (Matthew 4:11)
We have many hungers in life that we would like to satisfy. Satan would have us become more focused on these desires than on God’s Word. He would rather have us think we should provide for ourselves rather than trusting in God to meet our needs. He would rather have us take shortcuts to satisfy our cravings instead of waiting on God’s timing to unfold. He designs all of this to push us further away from total surrender and reliance on God.
Food…fame…love…power…riches…peace…etc. None of our desires will ultimately satisfy apart from our dependence on and faith in God to provide.
What helps you rely on God day after day?
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