The next we read Jesus saying is found in Matthew 4 and Luke 4. Jesus was led into the wilderness by the Spirit to be tempted by the devil.
The devil’s first temptation comes in relation to a physical need, hunger. Jesus says,
“‘Man shall not live by bread alone,
but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” Matthew 4:4 (ESV)
And Jesus answered him, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone.’”
Luke 4:4, 8 … “It is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God and serve him only.’[c]” (ESV/NIV)
We see a similar passage in the Old Testament in Deuteronomy 8:3
And he humbled you and let you hunger and fed you with manna, which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that he might make you know that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by every word[a] that comes from the mouth of the Lord. (ESV)
In the NT, Jesus had been in the wilderness for 40 days. In the OT it references the 40 years in the wilderness. Both speak about the physical need to eat.
Whether Jesus added the “but by every word …” part, my guess is it would have been implied. Ever hear someone say, “When in Rome …”? It’s the same thing, there isn’t any need to finish the statement. If we read what Jesus said with this same thought process, then He could have been saying a whole lot with just a few words. If this is true, then what could He have really been saying … or implying? Let’s take a longer look at Deuteronomy 8.
Remember the long road on which the Lord your God led you during these forty years in the desert so he could humble you, testing you to find out what was in your heart: whether you would keep his commandments or not. (CEB)
Some key words I see: God led, humble you, test you, your heart, keep commandments.
Maybe Jesus was trying to remind himself of these very things as well? Today we might say, “We got this.” But in our minds we are thinking a whole lot more. Maybe Jesus was thinking, God/the Spirit led me here, stay humble, it’s a test of my heart, keep the commandments and everything will be fine.
3 He humbled you and let you be hungry. Then he fed you with manna—something you did not know about before. It was something your ancestors had never seen. Why did the Lord do this? Because he wanted you to know that it is not just bread that keeps people alive. People’s lives depend on what the Lord says. 4 These past 40 years, your clothes did not wear out, and your feet did not swell. 5 You must remember that the Lord your God teaches and corrects you as a father teaches and corrects his son. (ERV)
It seems as much as we need physical nourishment, we also need spiritual nourishment. Both can come from God, and will sustain us. Our spiritual nourishment comes for what “the Lord says.”
We also see the why here, “teaches and corrects.” So whatever God allows in our life is meant to teach and correct.
Discussion could be had here about the difference between what God allows in our life and what we bring into our life, but we will save that for another day.
Maybe Jesus was reminding Himself, the Spirit led him there, all He needed would come from God.
6 Observe the commands of the Lord your God, walking in obedience to him and revering him. (NIV)
At some point we’ll come back to the commandments and examine them. But for today, we learn we should observe them, be obedient, and revere God. It’s what reveals what is really in our hearts.
So now we know when we are in a tough place to remind ourselves, God/the Spirit led me here, stay humble, it’s a test of my heart, keep the commandments and everything will be fine, all I need will come from God, just be obedient and revere Him.
There’s a lot summed up in the words, “Man shall not live by bread alone.”