Monday, October 7, 2013

Battle in the Wilderness: Stone vs. Bread (Luke 4:3)

The Devil, playing on his hunger, gave the first test: “Since you’re God’s Son, command this stone to turn into a loaf of bread.”  (Luke 4:3 MSG)

Jesus had just completed a forty day fast and was hungry. His days of divine solitude were coming to an end, and the Tempter was ready for the attack. Seeing His vulnerable point of hunger, he struck by tempting Jesus to turn a stone to bread. Instant gratification.

We love instant gratification, don't we? I'd have been tempted to do it, and Jesus must have been too, because these temptations were tailor-made for Him. There is a difference, however, between waiting for God's provision and trying to make a provision for yourself. Remember how well her attempt turned out for Sarah? We are still dealing with the mess between Isaac and Ishmael today.

Could Jesus turn a stone to bread? Of course. It would not have been a temptation if it were not possible. The interesting thing here is that, as God's Son, present at the foundation of the world, the Holy Trinity had spoken the stone into existence. He had created the stone, and it belonged  to Him, to do with as He would. So what is the problem here?

Jesus's ministry required absolute selflessness and the enemy was tempting Him to selfishness. The temptation was to misuse His power for selfish gain. It was a temptation to worship self rather than God the Father.

For the One coming to sacrifice Himself for a perishing world, absolute submission to the Father's will was critical. There was no room for pleasing self. His only job, His only purpose on earth was pleasing the Father. Waiting for God's timing, even in meeting the most basic of human needs, was essential.

Wow! That is one tall order. Absolute submission to God's will and total selflessness are tall orders for frail humanity. Is it possible? Yes. Is it easy? Not always.

Today, pray for the grace to wait for God's timing in every aspect of life. Pray, too, that we, and our loved ones, would be more interested in pleasing our heavenly Father than in pleasing ourselves.