We are following Jesus after his baptism and as he is led into a time of testing. He is in the wilderness and he has not eaten for 40 days and nights. He is “famished.” It is often when I am “hungry” that I am vulnerable.
“2 He fasted for forty days and forty nights, and afterwards he was famished. 3 The tempter came and said to him, ‘If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.’ 4 But he answered, ‘It is written,
“One does not live by bread alone,
but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.”’ (Matthew 4:2-4)”
“Hunger” does not just apply to food. Few of us fast for 40 days nor have I fasted before a test of any kind. But I do hear my friends talking about how wonderful it was when a son visited and gave her a huge hug. Her husband died nine years ago and she is “love starved.” In the idiom on-line dictionary, a proverb is “A hungry stomach has no ears.” An American saying is that the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach! When we are hungry for anything, it is hard to focus and we are vulnerable to misperceiving.
I am not surprised that the first temptation Jesus faced was to his physical desires. He was human! But I find it interesting how the temptataion is couched in an “if” comment. “If you are the son of God…” For me it might be thinking something like, if I exercise then I can eat. A youth might think that if she gets pregnant there are pills now. Or I reason that “if” I budget better next month I can afford the thing that catches my eyes. I doubt we just suddenly fall into “I can’t believe I ate the whole pie.”
Secondly, when I am hungry the temptation always looks like the solution to my hunger. If Jesus turns the rock into bread then he won’t be hungry. But in fact, hunger returns. Compromising my values does not make into a hero but just feeling guilty afterwards. Staying up too late to watch a show that has grabbed my interest will leave me foggy tomorrow.
Jesus meets the temptation by making a values priority statement. We cannot live in the tempting moment alone but must place the temptation in the scheme of our larger goals. As we reflect on whatever hunger is tempting us, it is always good to think about how it fits within our values God’s word. Whether it is the piece of cake or a beer in the refrigerator that calls to me, those satisfying moments are just that, moments. As we go into 2023 may we try to be clear on our values and goals. Mays we live on the words that come out of the mouth of God and not out of the desires that come from the hungers of the stomach. Blessings in the struggle!