Not only by bread

Now, this is Lenten.

Jesus returned from the Jordan River full of the Holy Spirit, and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness. There he was tempted for forty days by the devil. He ate nothing during those days and afterward Jesus was starving. (Luke 4:1-3, CEB)

This little video has been floating around for the past 8 years. It’s four minutes with Jesus in which we feel his hunger, his thirst, his exhaustion.

I love the emphasis on imagery (and my apologies for the ad you have to watch to get to it), and I especially love that the Tempter looks just like Jesus. Isn’t that how it is, a real human experience of being driven around the bend by one’s own self? For the purposes of the video, the speech bubbles are empty, reminding me of Mark’s gospel, in which we only hear that Jesus was tempted, not what the temptations might have been.

The beauty of Luke’s version of this story (Luke 4:1-13), like Matthew’s, is that Jesus has a conversation with the Tempter. You have to love this about post-fast Jesus; he is ready to rumble, rhetorically speaking, showing his doctrinal quick-draw. We get a sense of his style of speaking that builds on the story of the boy Jesus in chapter 2, answering his mother by saying she should have known he would be in his Father’s house, that he would be about his Father’s business. Now he has the answers for whoever or whatever is trying to divert his course.

He is ready for the fight, not with weapons, but with words.

And he will keep telling those around him, and us, that the fight will not be easy.

“It’s written, People won’t live only by bread.” (Luke 4:4, CEB)

This is not a diet post, but it happens that as part of an overhaul of my eating habits in response to some unfavorable test results, I’m no eating much bread at all. It’s not disallowed, particularly in some whole grain form, but it’s on a short list of things I find hard to eat in moderation. I’ve often joked about what Jesus said. After all, elsewhere he calls himself the Bread of Life. Surely bread is good, in that case, I have said. I can’t speak for what will happen if we are out for some meals during Lent, but for now, at home, I’m not eating bread.

(I am eating spelt crispbreads. They’re pretty good. Or maybe I’m just hungry.)

Maybe he meant something other than literal bread and life – I want to say “of course,” but what do we know? There’s more to life than bread? Than eating? There is, but it’s also a necessity. I’m living by superfood oatmeal, baby kale, even avocados (thanks be to God).

What else am I living by? I suppose faith, hope, love – that Corinthian triptych – and relationship, community, a last shred of idealism, not to mention humor, saltiness, persistence.

I’m living by God, I hope.

How about you? What are you living by?

Holy One, I’m living by You. Please be there when I come out of the wilderness. Amen. 


I’m reading and blogging about Luke for Lent. Want to read along? Full schedule can be found here.

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