But Jesus answered, "It is written: 'Man shall not live on bread alone.'"
I. THE SEVERITY OF THE TEMPTATION. "He hungered" after long fasting. Hunger, in its severer forms, is unknown to us. In a country like this we have no experience of it. We can only judge of it from the testimony of those who have endured it; and, thus judging, we are sure that it is a very urgent, imperious, almost irresistible craving. The extremities and inhumanities to which it has driven men who are not naturally inhuman tell their own tale with terrible force. Our Master was suffering, we may well believe, from the most severe pangs of want. There were stones of the size and color of such a loaf as he would have given everything (it would be right to give) to obtain. By an easy exertion of his miraculous power he could turn the one into the other. Why not do so? Because to do that would be to take himself out of the hands of that heavenly Father to whose care he was committed, and manifest distrust in his providential goodness. Or because to do so would be to employ his Divine power first on his own behalf, instead of using it, as on the occasion of its first exercise it behoved him to employ it, on behalf of others. Or because to do that would be to give present and bodily cravings precedence of the great concerns of the kingdom of God. For some such reason our Lord thought that it would be wrong or, at any rate, undesirable for him to act on the suggestion, and he forbore. Temptation of the fleshly kind comes to us in the shape of hunger, or thirst, or sexual passion.
1. These trials of our moderation and self-government are more or less severe according to
(1) our temperament and
(2) our circumstances.
2. They may lead us into errors and evils which are
(1) mistakes to be avoided; or
(2) indiscretions to be condemned and regretted, and, of course, forsaken; or
(3) vices and sins which are shameful and deadly,
which stain the conscience, which ruin the reputation, which lead down to swift destruction.
II. THE WAY OF VICTORY. When the hour of conflict comes we must gird ourselves for the fight; and though the peril may be great because the enemy is strong, yet have we great resources, and there is no reason why we should not win the battle. We should call to our help our regard for:
1. The will of God as revealed in his Word; that "sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God," should be at hand with us as it was with our great Leader: "It is written."
2. The penalty of disobedience - a very heavy one in its ultimate issues.
3. The example of our Divine Master, calmly putting aside the false suggestion, preferring to suffer rather than to sin.
4. The consideration that sin excludes us from other and higher blessings. Better far, in the thought of Christ, to rest in bodily hunger, committing himself to the faithfulness of the holy Father. And how much better than any physical enjoyment is the satisfaction of spirit which attends purity and piety! Not the bread of bodily comfort, but the sense of God's abiding favor, the continuance of the friendship of Christ, the cherishing of a heavenly hope, - that is the good thing to prize and to pursue. - C.
And Jesus answered him saying, It is written, that man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God.Psalm 119.), "in mine heart, that I might not sin."
(D. Dyke.)Isaiah 49:2. Christ saith affirmatively of the Scriptures, that "in them is eternal life" (John 5:39). Negatively, that the cause of error is the not knowing of them (Mark 12:24). David saith it was that that made him wiser than his enemies, than his teachers, and than the ancients (Psalm 119:98, 99, and 110). So the error of the former times was in yielding too far to the devil's policy, by sealing up the Scriptures, and locking the storehouse and armoury of the people. The like policy we read of (1 Samuel 13:19); when the Philistines had taken away all smiths and armour, then they thought they were safe. So in the time of darkness, the devil might let them do their good works, and what they list, and yet have them still under his lure, that he might offend them at his pleasure, that had no armour to resist him. All the children of God had a right and property in the law of God, as appeareth by Christ's words (John 10:34). He answered them, that is, the common people, "Is it not written in your law?" As though He should say, The Scripture is yours.
(Bishop Hacket.)1. Our acceptance of the principle reasserted by Christ that "Man [the man, God-fearing, God-trusting] liveth not by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God."
2. Be more anxious to have God's blessing, with the lowliest and poorest fare, than the richest without it.
3. With reference to the temptation to "turn stones into bread," let me ask if none of you have been tempted by this very snare? — Beware! (Proverbs 20:17).
4. Is there not a great amount of this "living by bread alone"? Are not provision for the wants of the body, and gathering, scraping together of the things of the present life, the all in all with many?
(A. B. Grosart, LL. D.)
I. WHAT IS COVERED BY THIS WORD "BREAD"? It covers the whole visible economy of life. For what are the mass of men spending their energies? For food and raiment and position — for the abundance and superfluity of these things. Now I am not blind to men's natural and pardonable anxiety about such things. Food and raiment are parts of God's own economy of life in this world; and Christ Himself saith, "Your Heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things." But I am speaking of the false position in which men put these things — of their tendency to separate them from God, and to seek to live by them alone. The gifts are to be sought through the Giver. Men often seek food and raiment without reference to God, and often in ways forbidden by God; whereas Christ says, "Seek God first."
II. If our Lord had yielded to the temptation, HE WOULD HAVE COMMITTED HIMSELF TO THE BREAD-THEORY AS THE LAW OF HIS KINGDOM, NO LESS THAN OF HIS OWN LIFE. He would have said, by changing the stones into bread, "As I cannot live without bread, so My kingdom cannot thrive so long as men's worldly needs are unsupplied. My administration must be a turning of stones into bread. It must make men happy by at once miraculously removing all want and suffering from the world, and inaugurating an era of worldly prosperity." We know that this has not been Christ's policy. Social prosperity is based on righteousness. Here, then —
III. We have CHRIST'S THEORY OF LIFE, INDIVIDUAL AND SOCIAL. Man lives by God's gifts, but not by the gifts only. By bread, but not by bread alone. Bread is nothing without God. Bread points away from itself to God. Bread has a part in the Divine economy of society; but it comes in with the Kingdom of God, under its laws, and not as its substitute. The man who lives by bread alone has nothing when bread is gone. The practical working of the two theories is written down in lines which he who runs may read. What is my theory of life? Is it Christ, or Satan? Is it bread alone, or bread with God?
(M. R. Vincent, D. D.)
I. THE WORLD'S GREATEST TEACHERS ARE INVEIGHING AGAINST THE SPIRIT OF THE AGE, WHICH WOULD SACRIFICE MIND TO THE MOLOCH OF LUXURY.
1. "Man shall not live by bread alone," but by every scientific fact, is the evangel of Science.
2. "Man shall not live by bread alone," is the burden of Philosophy.
3. "Not by bread alone," chimes in the voice of Art.
4. "Not by bread alone," throbs in divinest music from the poet's lyre. But all these voices declare only half the truth — the negative side of it.
II. THE CHRISTIAN IS THE ONLY MAN WHOSE ANGLE OF VISION TAKES IN THE GREATEST SWEEP OF THE ILLIMITABLE HORIZON OF TRUTH. "Man shall not live by bread alone," He declares, "but by every word of God." What is every word of God?
1. Science is a word of God.
2. Philosophy, in so far as she has defined, expressed, and enforced truth, has spoken for God.
3. Have not Art and Culture and Poetry voices for God? or are they merely voices of man? We hold that they are truly prophets of God. So far we have the sympathy of many minds not Christian. They say, "Here end the words of God." We say.
4. "Here begin the words of God." Revelation, especially the revelation of the Incarnate Word, is the clearest and noblest word of God, because it is addressed to the soul of man. All others are but echoes of this Incarnate Word.
I. THAT WE ARE NOT DEPENDENT SOLELY ON MATERIAL THINGS FOR THE SUSTENANCE AND NOURISHMENT OF OUR LIFE.
II. They teach us TO REFUSE TO HOLD OR SUPPORT OUR LIFE IN ANY WAY APART FROM GOD'S WORD.
III. They point to the truth that THERE IS A LIFE TO WHICH BREAD DOES NOT MINISTER.
(Studens.)1. The craving for Divine truth in the souls of men was never so much of an imperious passion as it is at the present day. Men have been imposed upon by fictions long enough. If they are to have true life they must have the very truth and substance of things for their nourishment.
2. Consider also how imperative has become the demand for beauty, and art, and poetry. There may be goodness in the world that is never touched by the beauty of art, and is all unconscious of the inspiration of Divine poetry; but it has not the abundant life which Christ came to bring.
3. Another of those cravings in which our best life is founded is in the personal relations which are so necessary to us. In fellowship lies a great part of the strength and joy of life. We cannot truly live without it.
4. And this brings us to consider the deepest and highest personal relation, which is the great end of our creation and redemption, the relation which we have with Christ and through Him with the Father. This relation is the bread of life to us — the vital nourishment and enrichment of our noblest being.
(C. Short, M. A. , D. D.)I. TRUTHS INVOLVED IN THIS SAYING.
1. Life is valuable and ought to be preserved. Man is to live; nothing can be compared with life — wealth, honour, reputation, dignity, position, rank — what is all that compared with life? Life is an invaluable boon; it is the day of grace, the day of opportunity, the day of responsibility.
2. Life is sustained by the use of appointed means. We are not to expect life to be sustained by miracle.
3. Life is dependent upon the great power of God. He is the great Author of everything, and Arbiter of the destinies of all.
4. God has a variety of means by which He can support life. When He sees fit, He can and does support life by miraculous agency.
II. ERRORS CORRECTED BY THIS SAYING.
1. It censures the loose opinions of those who hope to live upon pleasure. Christ says, Men are to live upon bread. There is a very serious character about life. To expect any one to liv upon pleasure is like asking a hungry man to a painted banquet; there is the form of food, but it cannot minister to his support.
2. It condemns the conduct of those who toil only for bread. Another world has claims, as well as this.
3. It corrects the doubts and unbelief of many concerning Divine Providence.
4. It suggests the means of life for the higher nature of man.
(Archbishop Trench.)dies, as we say. Is Christ's theory disproved? By no means. Christ's choice led Him to the cross, and many a follower of His has been forced to choose between the bread-theory and death. When God says that man shall live by His Word, He means by "life," far more than the little span of human years, with their eating, and drinking, and pleasure, and gain-getting. This utterance of the world's Redeemer assumes the fact of immortality. To live by the Word of God is to share the eternal life of God. The bread-life is but the prelude and faint type of this. It gets all its real meaning and value from this. Human life is nothing if it does not foreshadow the larger life of eternity: and when the lower physical life fails for lack of bread, the man does not cease to live: he only begins to live, and to prove that if man cannot live by bread alone, he can live by God alone.
(Marvin R. Vincent, D. D.)
Marvin R. Vincent, D. D. .The practical working of the two theories is written down in lines which he that runs may read. Before you is the picture of the Man of Sorrows, who had not where to lay His head, reviled and spoken against, walking by His bard road to the garden and to the cross, and yet deliberately choosing to live by God rather than by bread; and you see the choice vindicated by the peace and poise of that life, by the enthusiasm of its faith, by its heavenly joy in its work, by its evergrowing power over the life of the world, by the adoration and love and praise daily wafted towards it from millions of souls: and all this while the worldly dominion He refused has proved a vanished shadow, while the old empires have gone down in ruin, and their pleasures have turned to a corruption which is an offence in the world's nostrils. The old city which rang with the cry of "Bread and the Circus!" is only a monument now. The tourist wanders over the Palatine, and peers down into the choked vaults of the Caesars' palaces; and the antiquarian rummages where Nero's fish-ponds gleamed, and climbs along the broken tiers of the Coliseum, from which the culture and beauty and fashion of Rome looked down with delight upon Christian martyrs in the fangs of tigers. As you look on this picture, surely you will take fresh heart; surely you will win a new faith in Christ's theory; surely you will not dare, with the glory of that life before you, to take the baser theory of the prince of this world, to choose the life which is by bread alone!
(Marvin R. Vincent, D. D. .)
(F. C. Ewer, D. D.)
(F. C. Ewer, D. D.)
F. C. Ewer, D. D. .The temptation of Jesus was not a splendid solitary victory of divinity over human conditions. It was the assertion of the possible victory that waits for every man who, like Christ, has in him the power of divinity. Jesus found in His human consciousness the original purpose of human life. He brought it out clearly. He said, It is not the Divine prerogative alone. Here it is in man — the power to live, not for comfort, but for truth and duty. Here it is in this humanity of Mine, along with all else that is truly human, all My tastes and propensities, all My aches and pains. Here it is in Me, and, no other men have found it in themselves, "It is written," &c. And men, all the more clearly since Jesus showed it there, are always finding in their own consciousness and in the prolonged consciousness of their race which we call experience or history, this same higher capacity or higher necessity of man. They find it in their own consciousness. What do we make of every strong young man's discontent with the actual conditions of things before he settles down into the limited contentment, the sense that things are about as good as they are likely to be, which makes up the dull remainder of his life? Question yourself, and see how there is something in you which rebels when the lower expediency of any action is set before you as its sufficient justification, how something rises up in you and tells you that there is a higher expediency, and makes you want to sweep away the worldly maxims which you cannot confute, but which you know are false. Sometimes there comes in all of us a strong, deep craving to give up this endless, complicated search after what it is safe or proper or fashionable to believe, and just to seek what is true; and to get rid of these thousand artificial standards of what a man is expected to do, and, come of it what will, simply do what is right: and when we are simply asking, "What is right?" the answer always comes.
(F. C. Ewer, D. D. .)
F. C. Ewer, D. D. .There always is this deeper power in man, and men are always finding it there. I think we are amazed not at the rarity, but rather at the abundance, of the power of martyrdom. When a great cause breaks out in war, and needs its champions, how wonderful it is to us, with our low notions of humanity, to see the land with its furrows full of the deserted ploughs from which the men have run to go and die for principle, and save their country. How wonderfully frequent are the stories that we hear of men giving their lives to do their duty. The exception is where the engineer of the railroad train which is rushing into certain ruin deserts his post; not where he stands still and calm, and is found with the iron clenched in his dead hand. No doubt, if he had time to think of it at all, he would be surprised at himself in the terrible instant when his quick resolve was made. He reaches down through the ordinary standards of his life, and takes up the deepest one of all, and says, "Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God; and the Word of God which is my duty now says, 'Stand and die'; and so I cannot live except by dying." And in spite of all the men who are sacrificing their convictions to their interests, there are thousands of men who might be at the head of things, and rich and famous, if they would only give up what they think is true for bread. Oh, it is very common I Men find in their own nature necessities which they must submit tot and they do submit to them. We can hear in their submission, though it makes them very poor, something of chat same trumpet-like triumph and exaltation which I think we always feel in those words from the lips of the sick and hungry Jesus, "Not by bread alone, but by the Word of God."
(F. C. Ewer, D. D. .)
Christian Journal.It is related of the late Lord Ampthill, British Ambassador to the Court of Berlin, that during his mission in Rome he possessed a huge boa constrictor and interested himself in watching its habits. One day the monster escaped from the box where he supposed it was asleep, quietly wound itself around his body, and began gradually to tighten its folds. His position became extremely perilous; but the consummate coolness and self-possession which had enabled him to win many a diplomatic triumph befriended him in this dangerous emergency. He remembered there was a bone in the throat of the serpent which, if he could find and break he would save himself. He was aware that either he or the snake must perish. Not a moment must be lost in hesitation. He deliberately seized the head of the serpent, thrust his hand down its throat, and smashed the vital bone. The coils were relaxed, the victim fell at his feet, and he was free! In all wickedness there is weakness, and it is a grand thing to discern the vulnerable spot and to be ready with the exact truth, fact, promise, which deals death to the foe. This insight and power are given to all who prayerfully study God's Word.
(Christian Journal.)I. ADAM'S BRIEF LIFE NOT BY BREAD ALONE IN EDEN.
1. The angels living by the Word of God alone without bread. "He maketh His angels spirits; and the highest of their heavenly host, those amongst them that "excel in strength " live only by" hearkening to the voice of His Word." The prince of this world in his first estate lived by the Word of God, but he kept not that Word, for "His Word is truth," and he "abode not in the truth," but became "a liar and the father of it."
2. The ox living by bread alone without the Word of God. To the ox his Creator gave "every green herb for meat," but without imparting the knowledge of his Maker, or capacity for acquiring it. The beast of the field was formed by the Word of God, and sustained by His power; but with no command either what to eat or from what to abstain, with no consciousness of good or evil, of obedience or transgression, and with no conception of the great Being to whom He owed his life. He ate the grass without sin and without holiness, and lived by grass alone without the Word of God. As he was formed, so he liveth on from generation to generation to the world's end, "asking no questions."
3. Adam living by bread with the Word of God. "In the image of God made He man," and He made him for communion with Himself. He did not evolve him from any beast of the field after its likeness, but fashioned him in His own likeness, "a little lower than the angels," leaving the ox utterly and for ever incapable of entering into the heart or mind of man; but creating man capable at once of entering into His own thoughts, and of loving and being consciously loved by the invisible God. From the day of man's creation he lived by bread, but not for one hour by bread alone without the Word of God. Of every tree of the garden he might freely eat; but the liberty was by the Divine Word in express permission, and in so eating man lived.
II. ISRAEL'S CHEQUERED LIFE NOT BY BREAD ALONE IN THE WILDERNESS.
1. Israel redeemed from Egypt and day by day fed by the hand of God. One chief end of the forty years' travelling through the wilderness was to train Israel to know that man doth not live by bread only, but by the Word of God; showing us both how high a place this lesson takes in the Divine teaching, and how slow men are to learn it.
2. Ransomed men learning to live not by bread alone. When the three thousand converts at Pentecost were baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, "they did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, praising God." It was repentance unto life and deliverance from condemnation that had been granted them from heaven; and they had no care "what they should eat or wherewithal they should be clothed." But for the first time in their lives they had learned that man does not live by bread only, but by every word of God; the eating of their daily food became part of their higher and everlasting life; and receiving it from the hand of a reconciled Father, they lived not by bread alone, but by bread with the Word of God that sanctified it to them.
III. THE SON OF MAN'S WHOLE LIFE ON EARTH NEVER BY BREAD ALONE.
(The Expositor,)2 Chronicles 15.) As He restrained the fire (Daniel 3.) from hurting and from burning, so can He also from helping and from warming. If we want means, then let us not only seek to them, but to God. And if we have them, though in never such strength and abundance, yet let us as earnestly crave God's blessing and help, as we would do in our greatest want. For what have we when we have the means? Have we God locked up in the means? No, we have but dead things, unable to help without God. Therefore in the fourth petition, Christ teacheth the greatest princes that swim in wealth, to pray for their daily bread, as the poorest beggar.
2. This teaches us never to use meats, drinks, marriage, physic, recreation, apparel, habitation, or any other of God's creatures without prayer. This sanctifies them all (1 Timothy 4:4), nor yet otherwise to go about any business.
I. THE WORDS OF MY TEXT, TAKEN IN THEIR LOWEST SENSE, IN WHICH SATAN PROBABLY UNDERSTOOD THEM, ARE SIMPLY TRUE. Man does not live by bread alone; he needs raiment, shelter, and a thousand other things, not included in bread alone. Man creates nothing. From the grain that springs up after his planting and furnishes "bread to the eater and seed to the sower" to the lightnings of heaven that flash along the lines of His proriding, carrying His messages over continents and under oceans to the uttermost parts of the earth — all, all is of God, the result of His inward thought and His spoken Word, and we are living now, as never before, in all the history of our race, not by bread alone but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God. But man is an intellectual being and —
II. HIS INTELLECTUAL LIFE REQUIRES MORE THAN BREAD. Nothing satisfies human intelligence but the Word, "every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God." The human mind is so constituted as to recognize every expressed idea of the Divine mind. Take English literature, for instance, and what is there in it that deserves to live and that will live, that does not in some degree express the Divine thought. Take the bad books that are printed — literary garbage, rightly excluded from the mails, and hauled out and dumped with other garbage on waste places. How it shuns the light I Literature can only live, and bless mankind, that has in it the Word of God. Mark the history of our own English literature. It had its rise in the fourteenth century in the translation and publishing of the Holy Scriptures by John Wickliffe. It gathered new life in the times of the English Reformation when the same Word was freely given to the people, and reached its zenith, intellectually considered, in the reign of King James at the hands of Shakespeare and Lord Bacon. Literature lost none of its strength, but became purer in the days of Milton and more religious during the revival period under Whitfield and the Wesleys. Take out of our literature all that is inspired by the Bible and all that expresses the Divine Word in creation, and little would remain worth saving. Yes, man lives by ideas. God's ideas inscribed, it may be, on the unhewn tables of stone that build up the foundations of the earth, or they may wave in beauty on the green banners that adorn its surface, or shine with resplendent glory in the heavens above us, wherever they exist they are God's ideas. The scientist in his deepest researches only discovers them. He is engaged in translating an ancient manuscript, and if he dares to say there is no God he is trying to translate a book that has no author. But the meaning of Christ's answer to the tempter is deeper and broader than this. Man never truly lives until the conditions of his moral nature are met and satisfied. This is a fact too often overlooked by the epicurean and the scientist, and it will remain a fact even after these worthies have exhausted all their resources in trying to prove that man is nothing more than an intellectual brute.
III. MAN'S MORAL LIFE REQUIRES MORE THAN BREAD AND IDEAS. Man is as truly moral as he is intellectual and physical. His moral nature can no more be fed on bread than his physical powers can be sustained by pure thought. If in the Divine word provision has been made for the body and the mind it would be a strange and inexplicable oversight if no word has been spoken of sufficient vitality to meet the wants of man's moral nature. And this oversight, if it exists, is all the more grievous from the tact that man's happiness in this life depends absolutely upon his moral condition.
(H. O. Cushing.)
1. God sometimes works without the means at all, as in the first creation of the chaos, and in Christ's healing of many diseases.
2. God some. times works by ordinary, but those weak and insufficient, means in the order of nature. As when the bunch of figs healed Hezekiah's sore (2 Kings 20.); as when Jacob's rods laid before the sheep of one colour, and made them conceive, and bring forth parti-coloured ones (Genesis 30.); when the wind brought the Israelites quails in such abundance (Exodus 16.); when Gideon's three hundred soldiers got the victory (Judges 7.); and Jonathan and his armour-bearer alone chased away and slew so many of the Philistines (1 Samuel 14:6).
3. God otherwhiles works altogether by unusual and unwonted means: such as was manna in the desert.
4. God sometimes works not only by means diverse from, but quite contrary unto, the ordinary. As the blind man's eyes are restored with clay and spittle (John 9.); and Jonah is saved by being in the whale's belly.
(D. Dyke.)— He needs not His own lawful, much less thy unlawful, means. Unlawful it was under the law to couple an ox and an ass together, how much more to couple God's holy and just providence, and thine unholy and unrighteous means?
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