I get hungry if I go without food for more than four hours. If I go without food for a whole day I’m famished. It’s unthinkable to go without food for forty days. Some people have actually done that. That’s exactly what Jesus did at the beginning of his ministry. He had just experienced the exhilaration of the baptism in the Jordan where the Father expressed his pleasure in the Son. On that spiritually high note the Spirit leads Jesus into the desert to be tempted by the devil for forty days. At the end of this time of fasting, the devil tempts Jesus to turn stones into bread to prove he really is the Son of God. After forty days of fasting the stones probably looked like small loafs of bread. What a temptation it would be to satisfy ones hunger and bolster ones ego at the same time. Jesus did not fall for the bait. He resisted the temptation by firing scripture at the devil.
Jesus uses Deuteronomy 8:3 to deflect the temptation and also to make a profound statement about who he is and what he has come to accomplish. Jesus answered the Devils temptation by saying, “It is written: ‘Man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.'”
Someone Greater than Moses
By using this statement from Deuteronomy, Jesus is declaring that he is the new Exodus, in a new desert, eating a new food with a new hunger. Jesus is proclaiming he is the long awaited one who comes to fulfill the redemptive purposes of God. He is hungry not primarily for physical food, but for the spiritual food of doing the will of the Father who sent him. He was hungry for the Word of God.
Everyone experiences a spiritual hunger. Most fill it with the junk food of the world. We have no intrinsic hunger for the gospel. To gain an appetite for the gospel we must feast on the health food of every word that comes form the mouth of God. That’s not easy to do in a spiritual junk food culture. Like Jesus, we must resist the temptation for ineffective substitutes. But we can do it because he first did it. When we fail to feast on the gospel, we know he did. When we are too full of junk to pull up to the table of the Word of God, we know he did. His grace enlivens our hunger for him. He calls us to come to the supper table. It’s on the house.