Summary: No one reads the fine print, it's just too much. Yet, spiritually speaking, Jesus remembered every last detail.
How many of you actually spend the time reading all the fine print? Yeah, me neither. Signing up for a new phone? You flip ahead to the last page and sign your name. Downloading some new software? You scroll down to the bottom where you can find the little box to hit “accept.” We do this because most of the time these are just a waste of time for us to read over. We do understand, though, that there can be times where ever last detail counts. In those situations, we typically turn to lawyers. We allow them to parse through all the jargon to make sure that someone isn’t trying to cheat us or scheme something away from us.
In our lesson today, we have Jesus temptation. Perhaps the most interesting of all of Jesus’ temptations is that of Satan telling him to eat. Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the desert, 2 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. 3 The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, tell this stone to become bread.”
It seems like every time I read this account, I have to think through why this was even bad at all. I mean, what’s so wrong with making yourself some bread? After all, when you’re hungry, if you haven’t eaten in a while, what do you do? You go to the fridge and make yourself a sandwich. And if there’s nothing in there you like, you run down to the grocery store or to a restaurant. Eating food isn’t sinful, is it?
On its own, most definitely not. In fact, we need food to survive! But this here is the genius of Satan. And yes, you did hear my right. Satan is a genius. Too often we fail to recognize that. Satan’s smart. He usually knows exactly the right buttons to push.
Let’s break down his genius here. As we do this, the goal is not to appreciate his genius, obviously. Rather, it’s to help warn ourselves about whom we’re up against. First, he takes something that’s innocent on its own. Eating. But he warps it so that he comes up with multiple ways in which this would’ve been sinful for Jesus.
1. Jesus wasn’t just randomly going for a stroll. He was filled with the Holy Spirit, and he was led by that Spirit out into the desert so that he may be tempted and overcome. The reason why Jesus was not eating during this time was not just because he didn’t feel like it. Rather, here he was fulfilling all righteousness for your sake. By not eating for these 40 days, he trusted that God would provide for him. He needed to trust his Father because we haven’t always done so. By turning the stone to bread, he would’ve displayed an untrusting attitude and thus sinned. For us, eating isn’t a sin. For Jesus, in this specific instance, it would’ve been.
2. Look at Satan’s first words. “If you are the Son of God.” Both Satan and Jesus knew that he was. However, there would’ve been that temptation to prove Satan wrong. All of you know what that’s like. When someone questions your faith and what you believe, you want to prove them wrong. Especially when they’re an enemy, or they’re getting on your nerves. That’s not why we’ve been given the truth, though, to simply show people they’re wrong. And that’s all that Jesus would’ve been accomplishing here. By proving his power to Satan, he would’ve been casting pearls to swine. Satan had no chance of being converted over, and so it would’ve been a misuse of his power.
3. One other reason becomes a little clearer when we’re given the benefit of hindsight. Why was Jesus out there? One reason for sure, was a sign of strength and a sign of hope for us when we’re tempted. Throughout all of these temptations, Jesus wasn’t using some form of divine power to overcome the devil. He used abilities that are available to us too. If he would’ve gone ahead and used his Godly powers to overcome, where would that leave us? We’d see this maybe as a fun story, but we wouldn’t be able to use it as a handbook to defeat the devil as we can now. So by turning that bread into stone, Jesus would’ve failed at giving us all the hope that he wanted to.
4. The fourth point is this. Here we see so many similarities between Jesus’ temptation and the first temptation with Adam. Both involved food. Both involved Satan coming in with a genius tactic. Both involved Satan using something seemingly innocuous to trip people up. But, afterwards, everything that Jesus found himself in was a harsher temptation. If Adam really was hungry, he could’ve eaten any other food. Jesus had to continue fasting. And even if Adam was getting hungry, it does not appear that he had been fasting. Jesus had been for 40 days already. Finally, Adam was in the middle of paradise, Jesus was in the middle of a desert. Why make everything so difficult for himself? Because by doing this, Jesus is proving to us that he has the power to take on Satan at his very weakest. If he would’ve eaten that bread, we would’ve not received this level of spectacular comfort in his victory.