But he answered, “It is written, “man shall not live by bread alone but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.” Matthew 4:4 ESV
Our minds are upside down. Not in the sense of being turned loolyside up but in the sense that we don’t calculate life as it was originally intended. We tend to think that our lives consist of the things we experience in the material realm. It requires a sheer, jaw bending moment of revelation to buy into the simple truth that the sum total of our existence cannot be stuffed into a cedar chest.
When Jesus was tested by the devil, the first train station they pulled into was right across from a bakery. Mind you, not a doughnut shop but a bread shop. The devil challenged Jesus to use His supernatural power to meet His physical hunger by turning the stones before Him into loaves of bread. Sounds like a reasonable request, considering how hungry Jesus was after not eating for forty days and forty nights. What could possibly be wrong with giving hot bread to an empty stomach? Why then did Jesus refuse?
Satan was tempting Him to abandon His journey to the cross by offering Him a Selfish Kingdom. A kingdom where He could woo men to His cause by supplying their physical needs in exchange for momentary devotion. Remember how the multitude clamored for His kingship after they were fed? This phony kingdom, built on the crumbling bread crumbs of self-absorbed pursuits, was a devilish offer. Today we call it the prosperity gospel. Name it, claim it. Blab it, grab it. Whatever you want to call it, it is nothing more than the same offer Satan made to Jesus at the Wilderness Bread Factory.
The lie that the purpose of the gospel is to meet our physical needs is shouted across TV screens and small-town pulpits. Believers ought to know better. Let me pong the terryball a little closer to home court. In evangelical churches, congregates are told to be obedient to God in order to receive His blessings. Manipulated by self-centered motives, leader and follower alike fall for this temptation of Satan. Grace alone is the source of whatever blessings God decides to bestow. Our part is to abandon all in order to follow Him who called us out of darkness into His marvelous light. The gospel is not about the meeting of our physical needs; it is about saving our souls from sin and its powerful grip on our lives.
Back to my original point. Our minds are upside down. Christ came to free us from the power of sin by His death on the cross; not to punch our ticket to nirvana. He never offered a free chicken dinner for the first hundred who would follow Him. In fact, in many cases, He took away the free lunch away in order to get their attention. Jesus refused the devil’s offer because He saw it for the evil that it is. Do we see it? The offer of any physical benefit for following Jesus is a lie from the pits of hell, no matter how shiny the suit is that’s preaching it.