Matthew 4.1-3 cont.
1 Then Jesus was led up into the wilderness by the Spirit, to be tempted by the devil.
2 And afterwards, having fasted for forty days and forty nights, He was hungry.
3 And the tempter, approaching said to Him: “If You are the Son of God tell to these stones to become loaves of bread.”
We may all be aware that it is often said that ‘if’ is only a very small word. Yet we are also very aware that ‘if’ can have a wide range of meanings. We know that it can add some kind of condition to a sentence, such as: it would have been a lovely day out at the park if it had not rained. Or: if we follow the diversion signs we will avoid a traffic hold up.
“If you love Me you will keep My commandments” – John 14.15.
This expresses the positive consequences of loving Jesus.
There are many other illustrations of the use of the word ‘if’.
It is the first word that the devil uses when he tempted Jesus:
“If You are the Son of God tell these stones to become loaves of bread.”
It was said to try and get Jesus to doubt who He is. It was said to try and get Jesus to question His power and authority.
If can be a word that is filled with doubt. Perhaps we have all had it said to us that if we were truly followers of Jesus we would do this or that, or we wouldn’t do whatever we may have done. People say these things to cast doubt on who we are in Jesus. They say it to question our true identity as followers of Jesus.
There may be an element of truth in what is being said, as there was when satan spoke to Jesus. He is the Son of God, and He did, and does have the power and authority to turn stones into bread.
It is assumed that Jesus was tempted in the wilderness between Jerusalem and the Dead Sea. In the Old Testament this wilderness is called Jeshimon, which means a desolate place, a wasteland. W Barclay says that it was a place where some of the stones were like small loaves of bread.
Satan may have been using this physical image to tempt Jesus to use His power to miraculously turn the stones into bread that would satisfy His hunger.
Let us be aware that the devil will tempt us also through physical things that will meet an inner hunger.