“But Jesus told him, “No! The Scriptures say, ‘People do not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” – Matthew 4:4 NLT
After being baptized, the Holy Spirit led Jesus into the desert to be tempted by the devil. After forty days of fasting, the devil said to Jesus, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become loaves of bread.” (Matthew 4:3) How did Jesus respond? With the Word of God.
Jesus was hungry. Forty days of fasting will take anyone to the edge of their life physically. So when the devil came to tempt Jesus, the first thing he offered him was a fix for his current, short term problem. But both Jesus and the devil knew this temptation wasn’t ultimately about short term needs. It was about who Jesus was and where he placed his hope. The devil will always try to distract us with easy solutions to short term problems, trying to derail us on our way to the greater things God has for us.
How many times have we been in a major crisis where there are pressing needs that must be met and we offer up a few prayers to God, but our main focus is on getting our natural needs met as quickly as possible? We go to natural strategies first and most often because of a perception that we have more control over natural strategies. But Jesus went to the Word first. He didn’t reason with the devil, and he certainly didn’t allow his current crisis to distract him from the greater goal. Like Ephesians 6:17 exhorts us to do, he picked up the sword of the Spirit – the Word of God – and he used it to fight off the attack of the devil.
We may think the Word isn’t sufficient in a crisis, but we’d be underestimating its power. Jesus could have done a lot of things to get out of the predicament he was in – ignore the challenge of the devil, give up on the fast, engage in a debate of the minds with the devil, call in “reinforcements” in the form of God’s Heavenly army – but he chose first and immediately to wield the Word of God in his battle with the devil.
The Word tells us we don’t live by bread alone, but by every Word that proceeds from the mouth of God. This scripture is saying that food is not enough to sustain us in this life. Ultimately we will be lacking in living power if all we do is feed our physical being. We truly live when we subsist on the Word of God.