And when the tempter came to him, he said, If thou be the Son of God, command these stones to be made bread. But He answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God. Matthew 4:3-4
All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any. I Corinthians 6:12
Jesus’ first temptation in the wilderness was about eating, which speaks to us today about the spiritual battle that we too will fight regarding our appetite for food. Jesus had not eaten for forty days, and He needed food. He had emptied Himself of His divinity when He came to earth as a man, and He experienced all of the confines a body creates. And a primary limitation of the body is that it must have fuel to function. So why didn’t Jesus just do what the devil suggested? There was nothing wrong with eating bread. His need was great. His fatigue was real. Hunger was driving His mind and body at that moment. What was the moral decision involved? Just eat Jesus! You’re human. Take care of your needs!
Jesus lays down a great principle in His response to appetite. He was not free to grab for food and eat just because of His hunger. EVERY aspect of His life was submitted to the Father. He would say and do only what God directed. And His first act of submission in the depths of this spiritual war was to surrender to His Father His appetite for food.
Are we called to do less? We have food all around us. It is available to us 24 hours a day in overabundance. We can have it NOW. Jesus could have had it NOW as well. But in His sinless mind and heart, He took the most basic need of His human life, and surrendered it to God. We are called to be like Him. We will not live by bread alone, but by God’s words that are more essential to life than the hunger and cravings that drive our routine.
I have broken the vicious cycle of junk eating that shoots my energy levels up and crashes them an hour later. I will deny myself the pleasure of taste that is stimulated to new heights by concentrated sugars and extraordinary processed dainties that call to my pleasure centers. Let my food be ordinary. Let my food be simple. Until my soul yearns for God more than my mouth salivates for rich desserts, let me wait, as Jesus did, to hear from the Father, and to submit to Him, even my need for food. If I could relinquish the pleasure of food, perhaps He could trust me to greater kingdom work that a healthy body and a clear mind focused and laid down to His every word could accomplish.
I want to know. I want to do. Like Jesus learned, like Paul declared, all things are lawful for me, and certainly that includes the food my body needs. But it is time to see the great power food has over all of us, and bring its attraction into absolute subjection to God, whose words we will not hear until we have submitted to Him our ravenous and out-of-control desire for bread. Jesus is the model. We live in a wilderness surrounded by foods that are destroying our health. Let us be famished for God alone.