Not By Bread Alone

In the Gospel reading for the first Sunday in lent we saw Jesus being led by the Holy Spirit in to the wilderness (John 4.1-14). In this wilderness place Jesus is tempted by the devil and we witness the way in which Jesus resists him.

The devil’s opening salvo to Jesus is aimed at the need for physical nourishment following his long fast. The devil said to him, ‘If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become a loaf of bread.’ One little trick of turning a few rocks into bread to eat would surely be harmless!

No Quick Fix Mission

Who would know and what would be the problem, apart from a few crumbs left on the dusty ground? When Jesus says, ‘One shall not live by bread alone’, he is indicating that there is a deeper hunger which needs nourishing.   

Jesus knows that his mission was not about a ‘quick fix’ or a few miracle tricks to bring short term relief. The time Jesus spent in the wilderness was in preparation for his forthcoming mission and ministry. Jesus comes out of the experience, ‘filled with the power of the Spirit’ (verse 14), prepared and ready to face his future ministry.

During the season of lent we journey with Christ through the wilderness. In the coming weeks we have an opportunity to use this time to strengthen our relationship with God through prayer, fasting and reading the scriptures.  Here are three ways you could do that.

  1. Find some time and space for quiet prayer. Take a mini pilgrimage to the Cathedral and attend one of the midweek services or find a quiet corner in one of the side chapels.  
  2. Choose a Lenten study course. The Cathedral shop has a good selection of books for the lent season.  
  3. Give up chocolate, alcohol, a favourite TV programme or other favourite treat. Whatever you give up try and put to good use the time and money saved.  

Whatever you do to observe the season of Lent may it draw you closer to God, strengthen you as a disciple of Christ and be more effective in servicing the world. 

Canon Keith Farrow

> listen to Keith's message from Sunday at Sheffield Cathedral here.