Go Ahead and Cling to God’s Word

Lent 1 Monday

Matthew 4:1-4

“Then Jesus was led into the desert by the Spirit to be tested by the devil. And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. And the tempter came and said to him, “If you are God’s Son, command that these stones become loaves of bread.” But he answered and said: “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’””

Christ here nicely depicts for us how temptation works and how it is overcome. First, he is driven into the desert, that is, he is abandoned by God, angels, men, and all creatures. What kind of a temptation would it be if we were not abandoned and left to fend for ourselves? But it hurts when we are not to feel anything that supports us. E.g., when I am to eat but have no money, no thread, nothing to lean on; when I do not experience any help or advice from others. This is what it means to be led into the desert and left alone. There I am in the right school and learn what I am, how weak my faith is, what a great and rare thing true faith must be, and how shameful unbelief is deeply rooted in the hearts of all men. But if your purse, pantry, and barn are still full, you have not been driven into the desert or left alone. This is also why you do not feel the temptation. Second, the devil comes and tempts Christ by the very care for the belly and by unbelief in God’s goodness, saying: “If you are God’s Son, command that these stones become loaves of bread,” as if he wanted to say: “Indeed, rely on God and do not bake. In fact, wait until a fried chicken flies right into your mouth. Now say that you have a God who provides for you–where is your heavenly Father who provides for you? I think he has left you. Eat and drink your faith. Let us see how your faith satisfies you–if you could eat stones! God treats you in such a fatherly manner by not even sending you a crust of bread. He lets you be so poor and needy. Just believe that you are his Son and he is your Father.” Indeed, the devil tempts all children of God by such thoughts. And Christ certainly experienced them. For he was not a log or a stone, although he was and remained pure and without sin which is impossible for us. Christ’s answer proves that the devil tempted Christ by cares for the belly or unbelief and greed…Christ means to say: “You want to point me to bread alone, and deal with me as if I should only think about bodily food.” This temptation is quite common, even among good people. It is felt especially by those who are poor, who have an empty house and a child. This
is why St. Paul says in 1 Timothy 6:10 that greed is a root of all evil. Do you not think that such unbelief, care, and greed
are to be blamed when people shy away from marriage? Why do people avoid marriage and remain in unchastity if they were not worried that they would have to die of hunger and suffer want? But people should look to Christ’s work and example here: He suffered want for forty days and nights and was not abandoned at last, but is cared for by angels. Third, see here how Christ resists and overcomes such temptation of the belly: When he sees nothing but stones and
inedible things, he goes ahead and clings to God’s Word. He strengthens himself by that Word and strikes down the devil by that Word. Let all Christians bravely grasp this verse when they see that they suffer want, that everything has turned into stones, and that courage is faltering. They should say: “Even if the whole world were full of bread, man still does not live by bread. Rather, more than bread is needed for human life, namely, God’s Word.”
St. Louis ed., 11:535-537.
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