I love peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. It’s probably my preference of lunch food on most occasions. Without it, I don’t know if I would have survived college cafeteria food. But as far as my enjoyment of creamy peanut butter mixed with the appropriate amount of grape (NOT strawberry) jelly can take me, I can’t imagine eating it every day. For every single meal. For….forty years.
That’s exactly what happened though to the Israelites in the Old Testament during their time in the desert. Every day God sent down manna from Heaven for them to eat, a substance similar to grainy wafers that tasted like honey. A blessing for sure, because where these people were no Krystal’s or Chick-fil-a joints existed. But soon they began complaining because they had no variety to their diet. (Numbers 11:4-6). All manna, all the time.
Hard to blame them. We don’t want to eat just one thing every day, do we? No matter how great it may be, we want to change things up. Lucky for us, Jesus says that’s okay.
In Matthew 4, Jesus has just completed a 40 day and night fast. He was hungry to say the least. And Satan noticed that, so as he approached Jesus to tempt Him, the first curveball he throws at Him is aimed at his biggest physical weakness. Satan said “if you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.” (Mt. 4:3)
We could read that as almost a challenge of sorts, one which our Savior would surely take on to prove Himself, to show who He was and is. Instead, He says this: “it is written: ‘Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God’” (Mt. 4:4)
To give in to Satan’s request would be saying he is the supreme power. Jesus pulls out the best weapon of all, and describes it as such: the Word of God. Instead of stooping down to Satan’s level, Jesus uses to thing that cannot be defeated.
The words He quotes here are from Deuteronomy 8:3, which says this to the Israelite people: “He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna…to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of The Lord”.
God humbles us. He crushes us to the point of acknowledging we need help, and then He gives it to us. Even if it isn’t exactly what our American appetites want.
Why is this verse hard for us? Because we think the bread is all we really need. Or maybe it’s our 401k. Perhaps our boyfriend/girlfriend. Our big house. SUV. Career. Acceptance of those around us.
But that can’t be it. Because when those things are what why try to use to feed ourselves, we find ourselves still hungry. When we chase hard for the American dream, we find ourselves dissatisfied.
It’s difficult to learn, because it forces us to truly rely on God for our needs. For everything. Because everything we have can be taken away in a matter of seconds.
Jesus tells us some comforting words to follow up with. In John 6:48-51, we read this: “I am the bread of life. Your forefathers ate the manna in the desert, yet they died. But here is the bread that comes down from Heaven, which a man may eat and not die. I am the living bread that came down from Heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever.”
God will always meet our needs. Sometimes it will be inconvenient. Bank accounts will get low. Relationships will get strained. Hearts will get broken. Sometimes we will go hungry. It’s during those times we have to realize that food alone won’t save us. Money won’t. Superficial love won’t.
But Christ will. And none of our complaining or chasing after the wind will ever, ever, EVER change that.