Greetings in the name of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
and behold, a voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.” (Matthew 3:17)
John, the Baptist came to the Judean wilderness and began preaching. His message was, “Repent of your sins and turn to God, for the Kingdom of Heaven is near.” People from Jerusalem and from all of Judea and all over the Jordan Valley went out to see and hear John. And when they confessed their sins, he baptized them in the Jordan River. John also talked about the God’s Judgement. “Even now the ax of God’s judgment is poised, ready to sever the roots of the trees. Yes, every tree that does not produce good fruit will be chopped down and thrown into the fire.” He also humbled himself, and said “I baptize with water those who repent of their sins and turn to God. But someone is coming soon who is greater than I am—so much greater that I’m not worthy even to be his slave and carry his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire. He is ready to separate the chaff from the wheat with his winnowing fork. Then he will clean up the threshing area, gathering the wheat into his barn but burning the chaff with never-ending fire.” (Matthew 3:11-12)
Jesus heard about John, the Baptist, and went from Galilee to the Jordan River to be baptized by John. But John tried to talk him out of it. “I am the one who needs to be baptized by you,” he said, “so why are you coming to me?”
But Jesus said, “It should be done, for we must carry out all that God requires.” So John agreed to baptize him.
After his baptism, as Jesus came up out of the water, the heavens were opened and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and settling on him. And a voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.” (Matthew 3:17)
This was the moment that God’s salvation plan through Jesus on earth had begun. God sent Jesus Christ, and God was pleased with Jesus. Jesus was humbly baptized by John the Baptist, and God was glorified. People saw God’s glory on Jesus, and Jesus’ ministry on earth was ready.
Soon Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted there by the devil. For forty days and forty nights he fasted and became very hungry.
Please look back into our live. Dedicating ourselves to God and doing God’s work was not easy. How many times have we experienced the devil’s power and interference, as soon as we dedicate ourselves to God to do God’s work?
Surely, the devil came to Jesus, and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become loaves of bread.” (Matthew 4:3b)
The first temptation from the devil was the most essential part of all living beings – food for survival. For forty days in the wilderness, Jesus had been fighting against this extreme hunger.
After the forty days, Jesus fell on ground, barely breathing. Jesus experienced our human body’s fragility, and the inexpressible craving for food for survival. The taste of death was circling around his fragile human body, and the mind was hallucinated because his mind was generating all kinds of mental pictures of craving for food. The pain was unbearable, and his body gave up all of his strength. He fell on ground. He barely breathe through his mouth. His mouth was as dry as desert, and it opened like an open grave. He was about to expire as the shadow of death was hovering over Jesus. On the other hand, to the devil, Jesus was well prepared for his easy victory. The devil might thought that nobody, even Jesus, could overcome the human basic needs, i.e., food after forty days of hunger in the wilderness.
Knowing exactly how hungry Jesus was, the devil picked a stone that just looked like a bread, which should have given a really tempting desire for food. Then the devil gave the stone to Jesus. Jesus took it from the devil, and carefully looked at the stone. He knew He had a power to change the stone to a loaf of bread, because He was the son of God. He also knew He had a power to send away the devil by a single command from His mouth. But Jesus did not. Why? Because Jesus loved us. Jesus came to the world not to demonstrate His power, but to serve us and give His life to save us. “For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Matthew 20:28) His sole purpose of going through the extreme agony and pain while even allowing the unbearable temptation from the devil, was to show His true love toward us so that we truly understand His love, believe Him. Jesus is the way and the truth and the life for our true and eternal salvation. Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6)
But Jesus told the devil, “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)
What an answer! Nobody on earth can give this answer under the extreme hunger. Yes, Jesus had a power to turn the stone to a loaf of bread. Please look at His face. He was in pain, but he was in joy. He absolutely trusted God, while looking forward to seeing our salvation through Him in His love even under the extreme physical hardship and the temptation.
All of us cannot deny our physical body’s needs – food, shelter, and clothing. These are our basic instinct deeply programming in our nature. Some say about noble causes and lead people, while telling not to live to satisfy these basic needs but for the noble causes. However, how many can actually live out their own noble causes, and continue loving their followers under an extreme agony as Jesus had experienced? I saw many of them ended up satisfying their own earthy needs first, and if needed, scarifying those who believed the noble causes and followed them. After all, their kingdom belongs to earth.
Jesus told to His disciples “My Kingdom is not an earthly kingdom. If it were, my followers would fight to keep me from being handed over to the Jewish leaders. But my Kingdom is not of this world.” (John 18:36) His kingdom not of this world, but in Heaven, which is eternal, not tangible like anything on earth. Friendships and love are beautiful and even noble on earth, but even they don’t last forever, if they were attached to this world. However, God’s love is unconditional and endures forever. The true purpose of Jesus, who endured the extreme hunger and the unbearable temptation was to give us this love and the everlasting life in fullness.
Praise the Lord, who endured all things including the excruciating hunger, pain, humiliation and temptation on the cross, the separation from God, the Father, and the death on the cross! Absolutely these are beyond our imagination. It is not the end of the story. Jesus Christ conquered the death and rose again. Through Him, like Jesus, we will rise again. We will be suddenly changed like Him at the sound of the trumpet of the second coming of Jesus Christ. Sing praise to God, our Father, His Son Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit, who dwells in our heart!
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. (John 10:10)