The Big But
In answering evil’s invitation to satisfy his appetite by snapping up some bread, Jesus quotes Moses from the ancient scriptures in answering the temptation:
Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.
Jesus’ used the word but here to slam the door on evil’s first offer. In answering each of the devil’s three invites to sin, Jesus’ answer could have begun with a but—sort of a ‘yes, that is what the word says, but you’ve taken it out of context.’
Don’t miss the positive side of Jesus’ answer: there is life in the word of God. In the contrast we are called to consider real satisfaction. It’s not simply a matter of having a satisfied belly. That will only last so long. But, a soul satisfaction awaits those who would ingest the life-giving word of God. It’s a temporal versus eternal contrast. This big but, initially spoken in an ancient part of God’s story in Isaiah chapter 40, assures: All men are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of the Lord stands forever. Temporal or eternal? There is life, and enduring life at that, in God’s word. There is much to be learned in that Jesus turned away each temptation by recalling and standing on precious truths in the word of God.
AN EXCERPT FROM CHAPTER FOUR, BIG BUTS OF THE BIBLE: A REVEALING LOOK AT JESUS CHRIST