Last Monday, as I was preparing for the teaching I do at our community children's ministry, I read the story of Jesus' temptation, from Matthew 4:1-11. He had been in the wilderness for 40 days, with nothing to eat, and then he was tempted three times by the devil. In the first temptation he is told to prove He is God's Son by turning some stones into bread in order to satisfy His hunger. And to this temptation Jesus responds by saying:
"Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God."
We find it very easy to look at the teaching of Jesus, understand that what He teaches is for our good, and then begin to put it in to practice in our lives. But Jesus is more than the best of teachers, and the Bible is more than the place we might seek to find answers to all of life's problems.
The words Jesus speaks to the devil were first written by Moses, as he was leading God's people through the wilderness and they were learning to trust in God to provide everything they needed. And they didn’t just need the basics such as food and water, but they needed the word of God to shape them as God's people.
And when we think about the meaning of the phrase "every word" we begin to understand that for true life we don’t merely need the rules God gives, but we desperately need the gift that He holds out for us when we fail to keep those rules. The gift of forgiveness of sin and the restoration of peace with God is promised in the Old Testament and fully revealed in the New Testament, in the person of Jesus.
I believe that in our congregation we know this to be true. We know that Jesus is the only way to salvation, and we have put our faith in Him. Jesus, alone, is our Savior and our Lord.
But…we also know that there are many people in our community who don't know the singular place of Jesus, or perhaps they have heard it but then don’t understand it. It is really a life-and-death distinction.
Jesus isn’t just one good teacher among many. He isn’t just one of several different and valid paths to God. He isn’t someone I can follow on the one hand, while also following something else on the other. In John's gospel He says,
"I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me."
There are many people in our community who desperately need the hope that can only be found through faith in Jesus. Let us be people who faithfully share the good news of Jesus with them, to God's eternal glory.
Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.