Not By Bread Alone

by Gene Taylor

"It is written, That man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God" (Luke 4:4). This statement was made by Jesus while He was in the wilderness being tempted by Satan. Following His baptism by John "to fulfill all righteousness," Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness where He was tempted by the devil for 40 days. During that period, He had nothing to eat. The text says, "He afterward hungered" (Luke 4:2). What an understatement! Most of us are quick to complain if dinner is a few minutes late. If we have to miss just one meal, we are inconsolable. We cannot begin to fathom the hunger the Savior felt after not eating anything for 40 days. The physical condition of Jesus must have been extremely poor following such a fast. The fatigue, the constant desire for food must have been nearly unbearable. His weakened physical condition was only part of what should be considered if one is to fully understand the situation. His mental state must also be considered. It too must have been diminished by the lack of food and nutrition.

Did you ever notice how hard it is to be mentally alert when you are really hungry? Nutritionists and educators have known for years that if a person is going to be sharp mentally, he needs a good breakfast to start the day and a proper lunch to keep him his keenest. It was in this weak physical and mental state that Jesus met the devil face to face. "If He is ever going to succumb, now must be the time," Satan might have speculated. Knowing His hunger, Satan told Jesus to use His Divine power to make stones become bread (Luke 4:3). As weak as Jesus was, though, He resisted this temptation, as He did all others, by finding strength in the word of God. Scripture was His source of strength and should be ours today. It supplies us with all things that pertain to life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3) and furnishes us completely (2 Timothy 3:16-17). Jesus relied totally upon it. So should we. Notice also the attitude demonstrated by Christ in His response to Satan. Even though He greatly hungered, He recognized that the fleshly, material things of life are secondary to things spiritual in nature and secondary to doing the will of God.

In Matthew 6 Jesus preached this attitude to the multitude. He told them not to be overly concerned with things temporal and material but to seek first the kingdom of God and all these would be provided (Matthew 6:24-33). A person's first concern must be to do the will of God. He must put material things in the background. Yet, many people reverse this order. Most people spend their lives solely in pursuit of things physical and never give any attention to the Word. Jesus spoke of such a one in Luke 12 in the parable of the rich fool. This man was a prosperous farmer. He had diligently worked and had gotten such a large harvest that he was going to tear down his existing barns to build larger ones in order to house his bountiful crop. He was then going to enjoy material life to the fullest. But Jesus called him a "fool"—that very night his life was required of him—he had lived solely for the material and had not been "rich toward God" (Luke 12:21).

Christians are not always free from this kind of thinking. Sometimes the material things start having a lot more prominence in their lives. Sometimes, even unnoticed, they overtake them and fill their hearts (Matthew 13:22). Though once Christ and His Word were most important to them, now they are not. Paul said the love of money caused some to err from the faith and pierce themselves through with many sorrows (1 Timothy 6:10). To be successful in life and pleasing to Him, be concerned with doing the will of God. Put material things second. Do not live by "bread alone," but by the Word of God.