Question:

Question

Answer:

What was so bad about Jesus turning stones into bread?


"Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And when He had fasted forty days and forty nights, afterward He was hungry. Now when the tempter came to Him, he said, "If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread." But He answered and said, "It is written, 'Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God"" (Matthew 4:1-4).

Jesus was a challenge for Satan. He would not be tempted by the more obvious immoral things to which you and I often yield. Instead, Satan selected something much more subtle for the Son of God. What he asked of Jesus was something moral. There is nothing in God's law that says it would be wrong to create a meal from stones. Not long after this, Jesus turned water into wine (John 2:1-11), so it wasn't the alteration of nature that was wrong. In addition, what Satan asked Jesus to do was something beneficial both to Jesus and mankind. Jesus had not eaten in forty days, this would place him near the limits of what the human body can survive. Since Jesus came to teach the world about God and to sacrifice His life on the behalf of mankind, he needed to survive to accomplish His mission.

Think about it in terms of our own lives. Many people think that if something is moral, is beneficial, and is not forbidden in God's law, then it cannot be a sin. Have you heard people argue, "I don't see anything wrong with it"? What they are saying is that it looks to be moral to them. Or they might say, "Looks to me like it will do a lot of good." Here they are arguing that it is beneficial. Or they might say, "Where in the Bible does it say not to do it?" The argument is that the Bible doesn't say it is specifically wrong.

Jesus proved the hidden flaw in Satan's request by quoting from Deuteronomy 8:3. To understand what Jesus saw, let us read the verse in its context. "Every commandment which I command you today you must be careful to observe, that you may live and multiply, and go in and possess the land of which the LORD swore to your fathers. And you shall remember that the LORD your God led you all the way these forty years in the wilderness, to humble you and test you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not. o He humbled you, allowed you to hunger, and fed you with manna which you did not know nor did your fathers know, that He might make you know that man shall not live by bread alone; but man lives by every word that proceeds from the mouth of the LORD" (Deuteronomy 8:1-3). In this quote, Moses is referring back to the time when the people of Israel ran short of food as they left the land of Egypt. "Then the whole congregation of the children of Israel complained against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness. And the children of Israel said to them, "Oh, that we had died by the hand of the LORD in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the pots of meat and when we ate bread to the full! For you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger." Then the LORD said to Moses, "Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you. And the people shall go out and gather a certain quota every day, that I may test them, whether they will walk in My law or not. And it shall be on the sixth day that they shall prepare what they bring in, and it shall be twice as much as they gather daily." Then Moses and Aaron said to all the children of Israel, "At evening you shall know that the LORD has brought you out of the land of Egypt. And in the morning you shall see the glory of the LORD; for He hears your complaints against the LORD. But what are we, that you complain against us?"" (Exodus 16:2-7). The people wanted food and they were determine to take matters into their own hands. They longed to return to slavery in Egypt because at least they had food to eat. God provided the people with food, but Moses explained that God wanted to know if the people were willing to obey Him. So the food was freely given (a gift of grace) but it came with stipulations that the Israelites had to obey. In particular notice that they had to trust God that they would have enough food from day to day. They had to have faith that food would appear the next day.

It was the very first day that many in Israel demonstrated their lack of trust in God. "Notwithstanding they did not heed Moses. But some of them left part of it until morning, and it bred worms and stank. And Moses was angry with them" (Exodus 16:20). Even on the first day of rest, when they were not to gather manna -- even though they had food left from the previous day, "Now it happened that some of the people went out on the seventh day to gather, but they found none. And the LORD said to Moses, "How long do you refuse to keep My commandments and My laws?"" (Exodus 16:27-28).

The problem wasn't that God forbade turning stones into bread. The problem was that God hadn't authorized it. As we live in this world, we need to realize that our goal is not to please ourselves. "For do I now persuade men, or God? Or do I seek to please men? For if I still pleased men, I would not be a bondservant of Christ" (Galatians 1:10). Our wants, our desires, cannot come first. "But to those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness--indignation and wrath" (Romans 2:8). This is why lawlessness or iniquity is wrong. The word lawlessness means to act without law -- to proceed where there is no authority. "Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, 'Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?' And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!' " (Matthew 7:21-23). The things Jesus mentioned in Matthew 7 were good things that benefited both the doer and the receiver, yet these things were declared to be wrong because they were done lawlessly -- the doers were acting without authority from God.

If Jesus had turned the stones into bread, not only would He have been acting without authority, He also would have been demonstrating a lack of trust in God. Later Jesus taught, "Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature? So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; "nd yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you" (Matthew 6:25-33). Jesus' trust in God's care was not misplaced. "Then the devil left Him, and behold, angels came and ministered to Him"
(Matthew 4:11).

It is unfortunate that many in this world continue to make choices in life based upon their own bellies. "Jesus answered them and said, "Most assuredly, I say to you, you seek Me, not because you saw the signs, but because you ate of the loaves and were filled. Do not labor for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to everlasting life, which the Son of Man will give you, because God the Father has set His seal on Him."" (John 6:26-27). We cannot use worldly priorities to make spiritual choices. "Now the ones that fell among thorns are those who, when they have heard, go out and are choked with cares, riches, and pleasures of life, and bring no fruit to maturity" (Luke 8:14).

 

March 15, 2005