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Turning Rocks into Bread, Matthew 4:1-14

    It is just our nature to want to 'do it' ourselves. We run into challenges or difficulties and we make every effort to take care of the issue with our abilities and according to our preferences. Those of us who have raised children can remember our little ones demanding to 'do it themselves'. Whether it was pouring the milk, tying their shoes or riding a bike, the desire was to 'do it themselves'.
    Not only do we have a desire to take care of problems by our self, asking for help is often seen as a weakness. Certainly there are those who seek the input of others merely to avoid the necessary. Yet so often we are embarrassed to ask for assistance. As we struggled to make our way in the world, asking mom or dad for gas money was a statement of weakness, if not failure. The real downside to asking for help, or asking mom and dad for gas money, is it allowed someone else to assert control over us. In order to get the gas money we had to listen to a lecture or we were questioned about our choices.
    Of course responding to circumstances as our parents would implies either we do not know what to do or we are really not yet independent. Part of being out on our own was to establish that mark of independence. We might have dressed differently or stayed out much later than we would when we were still at home. Many go off to college and take great joy in 'not having to go to church anymore'. We establish our independence and purposely establish differences between us and those who used to have control over us. Different clothes, different music or different routines, we seek to establish our separation.
    As we look at the temptation of Jesus one of the striking observations we see is not the separation of Jesus from the authority of the Father, but the absolute adherence to what He knew the Father wanted! It is not to be missed - Matthew, Mark and Luke are very clear in the description of how these temptations began. The Gospel writers make the point that Jesus went to the wilderness for the very purpose to be tested! Far from giving us any idea that the results of pleasing the Father result in immediate physical or monetary blessings, immediately after the baptism Jesus is led or, in the words of Mark, driven into the be tested.
    Not only was the journey into the wilderness the plan of the Father, there are many comparisons to be seen from a previous journey into the wilderness. Hundreds of years earlier Israel had been chosen by God and delivered from Egypt. No sooner had Israel left Egypt than there was a 'baptism'. Israel was led through the water. Immediately after going through the water, Israel was led into the wilderness. As terrifying as the wilderness was it was God's plan for Israel to be there. It was necessary for Israel to be tested (Deut. 8:16).
Israel needed to demonstrate whether or not as a nation they would be obedient and trust the Lord.
    It is to this exact same moment which Jesus now comes. Matthew is drawing our focus to the similarity between Israel and Jesus. Both were in the wilderness for an extended period, this was at the beginning of the wilderness experience for Israel. Israel was now hungry and accused Moses of leading them into the wasteland merely to die, (Ex.16:3). Jesus was also faint and weary, having fasted for 40 days. This was the temptation which Jesus faced. He was not tempted to do a cheap magic trick, turn rocks into bread, as there was no one there to see this. The temptation He faced was the choice to 'solve his own problem". Would he trust God or should he make bread? The test was just this simple...and just this crucial. Jesus...can you trust the Father...a Father who will lead Him to the cross? Or, should you do this your way?
    The answer which Jesus gives, make ALL of God's Word a priority and the faith to trust Him for the bread, could not more different from Israel's answer. Jesus was saying "Israel failed to trust the Father, but I will"!    
     As Jesus is sinless, we can never achieve or attain the perfect behavior and decisions that He made. Given the opportunity we invariably choose, as the parallel with Israel in the wilderness showed, to try and turn the rocks of our life into bread. Given the immediate need to satisfy a basic necessity, or even a mere desire, we jump at the chance to demonstrate our abilities. This first temptation is the clear beginning of the consistent obedience of Jesus. The point of this story is not an inspiration for us to make a better effort.  It is His obedience, and victory over temptation to 'do it his way' that we embrace.

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