When we served in Central America, there were certain foods that I came to miss from home – things like Corn Flakes with cold milk (eating them with hot milk grows on you, but it’s not the same). Now that we’ve been back in the States for about 12 years, there are foods that I miss from Central America – like ‘yucca con chicharrón’, which is a dish of tender boiled yucca on a bed of lemon-seasoned cabbage and what you might mistake for ‘pork rinds’ (but not the airy things you buy at Walmart in a bag, but rinds with the ham still attached and deep fried…qué RICO!!!). Ah yes…certain foods we miss, certain foods we eat to celebrate, certain foods are comfort foods. Does it make you hungry? Well in Matthew 4:1-11 food was what Jesus hadn’t had for 40 days, and he was hungry AND tempted.

I was reading through the temptation of Jesus recently and trying to picture what Jesus was experiencing. When considering the three temptations (bread from stones, throwing himself down, bowing to Satan), someone said that Jesus was tempted to: provision without God, prestige without God, and power without God – a pretty problematic proposal, no? But as I’m trying to picture Jesus, I ask, “Why were these things in particular a temptation to Jesus?” Hebrews 4:15 tells us that Jesus was tempted in every way as we are, and yet was without sin. So in what way was it tempting to Jesus to do these things? What did Jesus stand to gain by giving in to those temptations?

Let’s look at them again:

1. If you are the Son of God….turn stones to bread.

If Jesus would have turned the stones into bread…

  • he would have had something to eat…
  • and he would KNOW FOR SURE that he was the Son of God.

2. If you are the Son of God….throw yourself down.

If Jesus would have thrown himself down from the temple…

  • he would have been rescued by God…
  • and the people would KNOW FOR SURE that he was the Son of God.

3. Satan then basically said, “You are NOT the Son of God…and God is NOT your Father….and so I’m your only option. Worship me.”

If Jesus would have given in to Satan’s offer to worship him, he would have gained…

  • everything he could see…
  • and would avoid WAITING through THE UNCERTAINTY of the cross.

So what would Jesus stand to gain by giving in to these temptations? Among other things, Jesus would have gained certainty about who he was in relationship to his Father.

We might ask, “Doesn’t God want us to be certain about who we are in Christ?” Yes, but that certainty comes by believing, not by controlling or doing.

NOTE: Jesus had just been told by his Father who he was, when he was baptized: “This is my Son whom I love; with Him I am well pleased.”

  • Have you heard God say to you that you are His child, one of His sons or daughters and that He loves you and is pleased with you?
  • Have you also been tempted to prove who you are – not by believing what God says about you, but instead by showing that you have what it takes?
  • Jesus is being tempted, among other things, to walk by sight instead of walking by faith.

Where have you been tempted to walk by sight and not by faith? In this season of Lent, leading up to the remembrance of Jesus’ death on Good Friday and his resurrection on Easter, perhaps you’ve recognized things that you’ve depended on for comfort, or for just feeling like it’s going to be okay. That’s one of the reasons that traditionally people give up something for Lent, as a way of offering to God that which may have become a greater part of one’s identity than it should. Fasting from something (especially food) is also a recognition that we do not live by bread alone (Deut. 8:3) but by the truth that comes from God. When we turn away from material or fleshly supports, our experience of depending on the Spirit of Christ can become more vivid, and thus something we can talk about with more understanding – and this can benefit others who are experiencing similar temptations or struggles. Finally, when we turn our attention from the things seen to the things unseen, we’re practicing what Paul wrote in Colossians 3:1-4, and in the process, some things unseen…that He says you are His beloved child…can become more certain.

Darrin King

Darrin is one of our Elders and is also a New Testament and Intercultural Studies professor at Ozark Christian College.

Darrin is pictured here (center) with his wife, Chrissy, and their children and grandchildren.

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