It may have been hard to swallow your pride and admit you have sinned, that you rebelled against God. But now that you’re in the fold it can be even harder to know what to do next.
Believe it or not, the answer involves food.
Why We Must Handle Food with Care
Food is a complex thing.
Not enough and you die. Too much and you become a glutton.
We love food. We love eating. Yet every January, we pledge to do less of it.
We turn to food to relieve stress, to assuage depression. We fill our pantries to feel secure.
We get cranky when we haven’t had some in a while. We shed a tear when we think of those who have none.
Did you know that eating causes the brain to release a flood of the pleasure-inducing chemical dopamine? This is the same chemical response we get from having an orgasm or from getting high.
Food can be a drug. It can be an evangelistic tool. It can be a source of sin.
What's So Bad About Turning Stone to Bread?
"Tell these stones to become bread." Matthew 4:3b
Satan’s words never sounded so delicious. After forty days without a scrap of food Jesus was starving. Or, as the Bible puts it in its classically understated manner:
He was hungry. Matthew 4:2b
Being fully man (and fully God at the same time), Jesus would die if He didn't get something to eat soon. His frame was weak. Breathing was hard. He just wanted to lie down. The thought of fresh baked bread tickled his brain. He could almost smell it.
He would turn water to wine, why not stone to bread? What would be wrong with that?
Maybe Jesus thought, "If I die, how can I carry out my destiny? How can I possibly be the Messiah, the Christ, if I am dead? It would be irresponsible to let myself die."
Maybe He had none of those thoughts. But I would have. In weakness, I always find ways to rationalize my behavior. We always lie to ourselves just before we sin.
But really, what would be wrong with converting rocks to bread?
Why Jesus Had to be Tempted by Food
It is no coincidence that Satan first tempted Jesus with food.
Doesn't this story sound eerily familiar? We can hear the echoes of Genesis 3, that bite heard round the world, when we read about the temptation of Christ:
“You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman. “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”
Now you know why the Bible describes the tempter as shrewd.
He starts at the most basic level: food. He doesn't hit the top of Maslow's pyramid, but tries instead to knock out the foundation. He takes something we must have for survival, then he twists it.
Eve wasn't starving, but she saw that the fruit was good (Gen. 3:6). Just the thought of eating it probably filled her noggin with dopamine.
Notice the other commonality: “you will be like God” (Gen. 3:5) and “if you are the son of God” (Matt. 4:3).
Satan started with something good: food, then proceeded to something evil: pride.
Adam and Eve wanted to be like God. They wanted to be in control of their destiny. They didn't need Him, right?
Satan's gambit worked for Adam and Eve, so why not try the same with Jesus?
“I know God is testing you, Jesus, but prove to me you’re the son of God. Take control of your destiny and turn these rocks into rye.”
Jesus wasn’t biting. How did he respond? By quoting scripture:
‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’ Matthew 4:4
This passage is from Deuteronomy and leads me back to the original question. What's the first thing we must do after surrendering our lives to Christ?
What You Must Do if You Want God to Direct Your Steps
Man shall not live on bread alone.
Moses spoke these words to Israel in remembrance of what the LORD had done for her in the desert. Jesus doesn't quote the previous verse, but He invokes it. Satan was hoping he'd forget it:
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. So 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.
God wanted Israel to trust in His providence, to lean on Him in her time of need.
Remember I said the food test wasn't coincidence? Jesus’ first step in undoing the curse was to face the same temptation (and worse) that Adam and Eve faced. Man failed his first test. Jesus passed.
This is where you come in. The first step in walking with Christ is to learn to rely on Him.
Adam and Eve tried their way, and look how that turned out.
Jesus could have turned the stones to bread. There's no scripture or mandate against that. But it would have meant giving in to the evil one. It would have meant taking something good (bread) and using it for evil (pride, lack of faith). But doing the right thing for the wrong reason is still wrong.
God will provide you the answers; He will direct your steps. But you must rely on Him.
Some time later Jesus taught his disciples how to pray. Remember what He said?
Give us this day our daily bread. Matthew 6:11 (ESV)
We might have money enough to buy an entire bakery, but only God can send the rain.
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