Let The Rocks Stay Rocks

I was recently encouraged by a friend to think about Christ’s time in the wilderness, and His temptations there. So, I was reading though Matthew’s account, and got to these verses: “And the tempter came and said to Him, ‘If you are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.’ But He [Jesus] answered and said, ‘It is written, ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.’‘” (Matt. 4:3-4) I know what you’re thinking. We’ve all read this, and all contemplated what it means to depend on God for what we need and not our own provision. In German, they have a simple phrase when something is clearly understood. They say, “Ja, Klar.” And that’s what the main teaching of this passage is. It clearly states, as explained by Jesus, we are to depend on/rely on/live by God’s provision, and not our provisions alone. But there’s more; more that I think isn’t as clear, or is obviously ignored.

First, Jesus quotes Deuteronomy 8:3, which is a passage talking about God’s provision for the Israelites through the giving of manna. In both places, though, the Scriptures acknowledge that bread ALONE doesn’t sustain us… Implication? We do need bread! But we must also remember that even the bread we have comes from God, or as Moses wrote in Deuteronomy, “But man lives by EVERYTHING {emphasis mine} that proceeds out of the mouth of the LORD.” Before we assume that we’ve earned what we have, we must acknowledge that even our ability to earn bread comes from God. Being true to the passage from Deuteronomy, Jesus is taking a humble position. Everything we have, have had, or ever will have that is necessary to sustain us comes from the mouth of God. This passage reminds me to stay humble and LISTEN for God’s creative provision for my needs. This temptation comes to Jesus at the end of a 40 day fast, when Jesus was hungry. I’m reminded here of His words in John 4, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent me and to accomplish His work.” (John 4:34) In humble obedience, do what He’s called you to do and trust Him to provide.

The other thing I’ve seen in this Matthew passage I had not thought of before. It’s been 40 days and nights since Jesus ate. Matthew 4:2 says He became hungry. His body is crying out for food, His spirit drives Him to obedience and humility. But His situation is filled with hard things and a tempter telling Him to make things easier for Himself. What could Jesus have done? He could have made bread. Ja, Klar. He could have made pillows to lay His head on and moan about His hunger. Shoot, He could have made the rocks into bubble-gum to at least assuage His grumbling stomach. But He didn’t. And here’s where God really grabbed my attention this time. The hard, seemingly useless things in Jesus life, stayed as they were. He left them rocks. My friend, Ian, posed it to me like this: “may you have the courage today to remain with the stones that cannot yet be turned to bread…” I’d never thought about how I try to make hard things at least comfortable for myself. I’ve never thought about how hard I work to make things bearable. This goes deeper than trusting God to provide. It goes to the core of obedience, suffering, and ultimately contentment. Ja, Klar. Trust God to provide. We all get that. But when it comes to suffering, discomfort, pain, fear, etc., we seem to strive to replace those things with promises of blessings and a better tomorrow. Jesus didn’t say, “I will wait for God to turn this stones to bread.” Paul, in the same way, came to realize that the hard things serve a purpose. He writes in 2 Cor. 12:9 – “But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” (ESV) When I attempt to turn the stones into something more palatable, do I keep the power of Christ from resting on me? When I avoid suffering, do I hinder His work in my life? I don’t like the idea that suffering is a part of my journey. Who does? I believe that many, however, short change the power and provision of Christ by avoiding suffering, bemoaning suffering, are trying to escape from suffering.
Let the rocks stay rocks and wait on God’s provision, knowing His power is perfected in your weakness and his power rests upon you in your weakness. Let the rocks stay rocks, but stay anchored on THE Rock.

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