15: Bread in the Wilderness
Jesus was alone in the silent wilderness. Bare, gray rocks and dull sand surrounded Him. Only the blue sky provided color.
In that colorless desolation Jesus wandered around, just as John the Baptist had once done. Jesus was not looking for food; in fact, He wasn't even thinking about food. He was thinking instead about His Father, whose voice He had heard at the Jordan.
The Father had anointed Him with the Spirit, and now His soul was overflowing with holy joy. He also thought about the great work that lay ahead of Him. He had come to earth for that great work—to redeem the world from the power of satan. The road ahead of Him was long and difficult. As He traveled that road, He would be subjected to ridicule, scorn and shame. One day that road would lead Him into the dark valley of death. Beyond that valley lay triumph.
Jesus wanted to follow that road obediently to the end. He wanted to entrust Himself to the Father in complete obedience. Wild beasts prowled near Him while He was alone in the wilderness. But Jesus did not fear them.
Something else also prowled in the wilderness waiting for a chance to attack Jesus. It was a force much more horrible than an enraged lion or a poisonous snake. It was satan.
Satan knew Jesus. He knew that Jesus, the Son of God, was his greatest enemy. He knew that Jesus had come to conquer satan through obedience and to reclaim His people from satan's power.
Long ago satan had stalked someone who, like Jesus, was without sin. He had tricked that person into disobedience. That person was Adam. Adam had lived in a paradise, the Garden of Eden. All his needs had been supplied and he had lacked nothing as he lived in the midst of God's wonders.
But the person satan was now stalking was in a territory that looked as if it had been forsaken by God, a territory where there was nothing to eat or drink. Why shouldn't satan succeed this time, too, in his wicked work? Patiently he waited for an opportunity.
After 40 days it appeared that his opportunity had finally come. Jesus, lost in His thoughts all this time, finally realized how hungry He was and how much He needed food. There was no bread in the wilderness. There was only sand and rocks and loneliness.
Suddenly a voice near Him said, "If You are really God's Son, tell these stones to turn into bread."
The Son of God could easily do that. If He had been afraid that He might die of hunger and that His Father had forgotten Him, He could have turned the hard, gray stones at His feet into nourishing bread. He could put a quick end to His hunger. But He was not afraid, and He was certain that His Father in heaven would not forget Him. No, He would not allow anyone or anything to shake His confidence in His Father.
For 40 years God had taken care of His people Israel in the wilderness. His Word had caused more than enough bread to fall from heaven. Therefore Jesus, the Son of God, knew that He must wait patiently and obediently, listening for God's Word.
Jesus said to satan, "It is written, 'Man shall not live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.'
Satan had failed in his attempt to make Jesus stumble and fall. But he was not yet finished!