Man Shall not Live by Bread Alone
“And Jesus answered him, saying, It is written, That man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God.” (Lk. 4:4.) There is something more to life than just eating and drinking. In our text verse (and the context surrounding it) we find that the Lord Jesus Christ spent 40 days in the wilderness. During this time He was fasting. Then, at the end of the 40 days, He was hungry. In our text passage, the Lord Jesus responds to the attacks of Satan, by referring him to the Higher Power of God, and the higher and nobler ideals of the child of God. There are things that are more important than mortal bread! And, there are desires and purposes that are higher and nobler than those that hunger after mortal food and drink! Indeed, to think on the things of God is far more important than to think on the things of earth and of men.
I believe that this knowledge that the Lord Jesus Christ shares with us (through His Word), is something that men need to be constantly reminded of. Today, I want us to think about some ways in which we can apply this knowledge (“Man shall not Live by Bread Alone”) to our own lives and our very existence – both physically and spiritually.
Man Lives Physically by God’s Decree
Though the world will not acknowledge it, each of us exists by the decree of God. In the Garden of Eden, in the beginning of the Creation, the Lord formed and crafted man, and gave Him life: “And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.” (Gen. 2:7.) Man does not exist through some fluke or some accident or some convenient and coincidental combination of various elements and molecules. Rather, man exists – both as a race, and as individuals, purely because of the power and strength and decree of God. The Lord God made Adam in the Garden of Eden, and He has made every man, woman, boy, or girl that has ever existed since the time of Adam.
Though the world will not acknowledge it, every breath that any man has ever taken, has been at the discretion and permission of God Almighty. We read in Job 12:9-10, “9 Who knoweth not in all these that the hand of the LORD hath wrought this? 10 In whose hand is the soul of every living thing, and the breath of all mankind.” Job makes it plain that the soul of every man and every living thing is in the hand of God. In fact, Job even declares that the breath of all mankind is in the hand of God. How can men be so wicked and ignorant that they will deny the power and presence of God in the lives of men? Who ever heard of life being created by accident, or at the whim of any mortal being? No, if there is life anywhere, it must find its source in the God Who has made all that exists. Later on in this same Book of Job, we read these words of Elihu: “The Spirit of God hath made me, and the breath of the Almighty hath given me life.” (Job 33:4.) Just as God gave breath and life to Adam, even so He gives breath and life to mortal men as they are born into this world. We don’t live because of our own efforts, or because of some strange freak of nature that might give us the breath of life. Rather, we live because the Lord has deigned to give us breath and life.
So, when the world claims that you exist just as a product of nature; or, when the world claims that you can lengthen your days on this earth through purely physical means; or, when the world claims that you will find life and health and strength and vigor solely through your diet and exercise and the earthly measurables that you may have some control over; do not believe them! The Psalmist had this to say about the way in which the natural creation depends upon God and His Will: “27 These wait all upon thee; that thou mayest give them their meat in due season. 28 That thou givest them they gather: thou openest thine hand, they are filled with good. 29 Thou hidest thy face, they are troubled: thou takest away their breath, they die, and return to their dust. 30 Thou sendest forth thy spirit, they are created: and thou renewest the face of the earth. 31 The glory of the LORD shall endure for ever: the LORD shall rejoice in his works.” (Ps. 104:27-31.)
Sure, it is good and most often wise to seek for medical help and/or assistance when one is sickly. And, it is a wonderful thing to consider the medical and scientific advancements that God has allowed in humanity. However, I encourage you to turn to the Lord for life and health. He may use doctors and medicines – or, He may not. We read about a woman that relied on Jesus Christ for healing in Mk. 5:25-34. As you may remember, this woman had an issue of blood twelve years. And, she had spent all her living on various physicians. But, they could not heal her. So, she goes to Jesus Christ, the One Who can heal! Then, in the crowd she comes to Him and touches His garment. Immediately, the fountain of her blood was dried up. This woman knew Who could heal, and she came to Him!
In the end, though men might be able to manipulate genetics; and though they might be able to affect the body even on a cellular level; men just cannot give or create life. In fact, many times the best of our doctors and the best of our medicine is incapable of healing even the most insignificant of diseases. We must admit that the breath of life, the health we desire, and the matters of death are in the Hands of God.
Man Lives Spiritually by God’s Will
In the previous point we noticed the reluctance that exists amongst men, to give God the glory and the praise and the credit for the creation of man, and the physical life and health that we each enjoy. Now, I want to point out that the same reluctance to give God the glory, exists in the spiritual and religious realm. As is evidenced by the religions of men – even those human religions that exist under the umbrella of so-called “Christianity” – mankind is not inclined to give God the appropriate glory for the spiritual life of man.
But, we know that just as God is responsible for physical life, our God is also the One that grants unto men spiritual life – even the salvation of our souls! Once, in the presence of the disciples, Jesus Christ said this: “61 When Jesus knew in himself that his disciples murmured at it, he said unto them, Doth this offend you? 62 What and if ye shall see the Son of man ascend up where he was before? 63 It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life. 64 But there are some of you that believe not. For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were that believed not, and who should betray him.” (Jn. 6:61-64.) According to this Scripture (and these Words of Jesus Christ), the words that Jesus would speak…are spirit, and …life. And, unless men would believe on Him, and acknowledge that He was (and is) the “Bread of Life,” then they could not be saved. When men, in their pride, imagine that they are responsible for salvation; or, when men in their pride claim that they are capable of attaining to eternal life; then, God is not glorified. And, you can be sure that any religion (or theology, or soteriology) that does not proclaim God as the Author of spiritual life, must be a false religion.
It is plainly presented to us in the Gospel account, that the spiritual lives of men are dependent upon the Purpose and Will of God. We read in Jn. 1:4, “In him was life; and the life was the light of men.” Any life that exists (and I suppose that we can ultimately include all physical life as well) must come forth from Jesus Christ. He is the Source of all “life” and “light.” What a wonderful thought this is! No matter where there might be life or light, we can be sure that God (Jesus Christ) is responsible of it. Conversely, wherever He is not, there is death and darkness. (I mean this in the sense of His presence for Good. Of course we know that even in Hell, or under the earth, or in the furthest reaches of the universe, God is there.)
Later on in this same chapter we read these words: “11 He came unto his own, and his own received him not. 12 But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: 13 Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. 14 And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.” (Jn. 1:11-14.) Are you one of the sons of God today? Well, if you are, then it must only be attributed to the power of God. Of a truth, all of those that are the children of God were not born because of their own blood, or the will of the flesh, or the will of man; but, each of us are born again (spiritually speaking) because of the will…of God. The Lord Jesus Christ told Nicodemus, “3 …Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. 4 Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother's womb, and be born? 5 Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. 6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7 Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again. 8 The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.” (Jn. 3:3-8.)
Jesus Christ is both the Bread and the Life of men. Many times in the Scriptures, we find that Jesus Christ is compared to “Bread,” in that He is essentially the life of the spirits of men: “32 Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Moses gave you not that bread from heaven; but my Father giveth you the true bread from heaven. 33 For the bread of God is he which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world. 34 Then said they unto him, Lord, evermore give us this bread. 35 And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.” (Jn. 6:32-35.) Man cannot live by mortal bread alone – even if that bread is manna in the wilderness. Rather, men must (and can only) live in the spirit, through and by the true bread from heaven, Jesus Christ.
At the end, just before the Crucifixion, the Lord reminded the disciples of the fact that He is the Bread of Life for all of those that would come to Him: “14 And when the hour was come, he sat down, and the twelve apostles with him. 15 And he said unto them, With desire I have desired to eat this passover with you before I suffer: 16 For I say unto you, I will not any more eat thereof, until it be fulfilled in the kingdom of God. 17 And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and said, Take this, and divide it among yourselves: 18 For I say unto you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine, until the kingdom of God shall come. 19 And he took bread, and gave thanks, and brake it, and gave unto them, saying, This is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me. 20 Likewise also the cup after supper, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you.” (Lk. 22:14-20.) Surely, there is no spiritual life outside of Jesus Christ! Surely, there is no hope nor any salvation, outside of the Bread, the Word, the very Son of God! When we partake of the ordinance of the Lord’s Supper, we are, in part, reminding ourselves that Jesus Christ is the Bread of Life. Of course, we do not believe as some, that the bread of the supper becomes the literal body of Christ; nor do we believe that the wine of the supper becomes the literal blood of Jesus Christ. But, we do believe that the unleavened bread is a picture of the body of Christ. And, in that sense, when we eat the bread of the supper, we are partaking of the body of Christ. This “Bread of Life” is essential to our very existence! We must not take it lightly, nor should we ever diminish the value and the importance of the Body and Person of Jesus Christ!
Sustenance is Found in the Word of God
So, as one that is born physically and that has the breath of life according to God’s decree; and, as one that is born again spiritually by the Will of God, through the partaking of the bread (or body) of Christ; how (or where) is it that you and I will find sustenance for our spiritual existence while on the face of this earth? I mean, how (or where) is there food for our souls, and encouragement for our lives on this earth? Well, of course the only answer to these questions is the blessed and holy Word of God. David once said, “8 The LORD is their strength, and he is the saving strength of his anointed. 9 Save thy people, and bless thine inheritance: feed them also, and lift them up for ever.” (Ps. 28:8-9.) Those of us that are saved ought to look for sustenance and strength in the Word of God. We have already noticed how that Jesus Christ is the Bread of Life. Well, in Jn. 1:1 we are reminded that Jesus Christ is the Word. So, we can consider the Word of God to be the “Bread of God.” As Christians we find that the Bread of God is essential in our lives. In fact, we find that our souls cannot survive or prosper without the Word of God.
It seems that we are often strangers to the Word of God. And, it seems that oftentimes we do not spend the time that we should in the Scriptures. It seems that sometimes we might even go for some extended period of time without that Word. At such times, when the Holy Spirit will bring us back to the Word of God, we find that we have missed that Word, and have not prospered in our way as we should have. “11 Behold, the days come, saith the Lord GOD, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the LORD: 12 And they shall wander from sea to sea, and from the north even to the east, they shall run to and fro to seek the word of the LORD, and shall not find it.” (Amos 8:11-12.) For too long our nation and the people of this land have been strangers to the Word of God! For too long we, even the Churches of Jesus Christ, have starved ourselves, and afflicted our souls, because we haven’t sought out the Word of God as we ought! Do you not know that your soul has a desperate need for the Bread of Life – that is the Word of God? How can something that is spiritually born, and that is a child of heaven and God, ever prosper or grow without the Bread of Life? Do you not know that the spiritual life that is in you needs more than the filth and the desires of the flesh to sustain it? Mortal bread and mortal pleasures cannot satisfy the needs and the desires of the spirit.
The prophet Isaiah put it this way: “1 Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money; come ye, buy, and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. 2 Wherefore do ye spend money for that which is not bread? and your labour for that which satisfieth not? hearken diligently unto me, and eat ye that which is good, and let your soul delight itself in fatness.” (Isa. 55:1-2.)