Summary: Jesus being tempted in three important areas of life 1. Our need for food 2. Our need for identity and 3. Our need to worship The choice is how we respond


Leo Tolstoy tells this story:

A young Russian inherits his father’s small farm.

He immediately starts dreaming of how to expand his property when one morning a well-dressed stranger visits him and makes him an offer that is too good to be true.

He could have free of charge all the land he could cover in one day.

The only condition was that he returned to the same spot from which he started, the grave of his father, before the sun went down.

Seeing the rich fields in the distance, the young man set out without taking any provisions or saying goodbye to his family.

He figured he could cover six square miles in a day.

After a short while he decided to make it nine, then twelve and finally fifteen square miles.

By noon he makes it to the halfway point.

Though hungry with his legs aching he continued.

He was near the point of exhaustion but the obsession to own the land drove him on.

With only a few minutes left before the sun went down, he gathered all his strength, stumbled across the line, the new owner of fifteen square miles of land.

And then collapsed on the ground, dead.

The stranger smiled and said,

‘I offered him all the land he could cover. Now you can see what that is, six feet long by two feet wide, and I thought he would like to have the land close to his father’s grave, rather than to have it anywhere else.’

Having said that, the stranger whose name is Death vanishes, saying ‘I have kept my pledge.’

(based loosely on the story “How Much Land Does A Man Need?” by Leo Tolstoy)

Our Gospel reading shows Jesus being tempted in three important areas of life

1. Our need for food

2. Our need for identity and

3. Our need to worship

It is all built in to us

We have or we all will face these questions sooner or later – and how we respond to them will determine how we live our lives

Having fasted for 40 days and 40 nights, Jesus was on the edge of his mental and physical strength.

And he was vulnerable to sin.

And at that time of crisis, the Devil comes to Jesus with three temptations which mirror these three major areas of Life.

The question is how are we going to respond.

1. The first of these three MAJOR AREAS of life is our need for food

Yet it leaves us vulnerable to the sin of gluttony.

We read in our Gospel reading:

2 After fasting forty days and forty nights, Jesus was hungry. 3 The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.”

Look at any newspaper and you will find one or two articles on food.

You’ll also find something about losing weight or about people who become obsessive in losing weight!

We love food – but so often don’t eat the right things.

There is a multi-million pound industry out there attached to our guilt – an industry built up on concocting diets

Rosemary Conley has made a fortune - as did the late Dr. Atkins - with perfecting diets.

And I am just as concerned as anyone about weight.

I even tried the “Commando diet” (in which I lost a stone in a week, but didn’t keep it off).

As a nation, we are obsessed with food – yet we know too much of it is not good for us.

And it is when I am at my lowest – my most stressed out – that’s when I am more tempted to the sin of gluttony – or put in modern parlance – to “snack out”.

Jesus had committed himself to fast and pray.

He didn’t have to but he had.

Fasting and prayer was a time when Jesus gave himself exclusively to seek God.

So when the Devil comes along and tells him what to do, Jesus has a choice.

He can either listen to him or ignore him.

There was nothing wrong with eating bread- the question was – who was going to direct Jesus’ life

Note it wasn’t his heavenly Father who told Jesus to turn the stones into bread – and then eat – it was the Devil.

And Jesus did not want to be led by the Devil.

Jesus’ reply was poignant:

“It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”

Who are we going to listen to?

2. The second of these MAJOR AREAS of life is the need for our identity to be recognised

We don’t want to be a NOBODY

Yet it leaves us vulnerable to the sin of being self-seeking.

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