Just before Jesus began his public ministry, he went out into the desert wilderness where he fasted for 40 days. While there, he was tempted by the devil with a variety of come-ons—the devil hoping to de-rail Jesus’ mission (Matthew 4:1-11).
The devil said to Jesus, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread” (v3). Jesus was obviously very hungry after fasting for so long. Refusing to make food to feed himself from the stones lying next to him would have been difficult enough. But there was also the much larger temptation being presented to him: to create food enough for everyone, removing hunger from the entire planet.
Jesus had the power to do it, but he refused. Instead, he responded by saying, “Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God” (v4).
Why did Jesus respond the way he did? What was he trying to teach us through the answer he gave? I believe at least part of what he was teaching us is that there is something more important than food. There is something even more important than the elimination of immediate human suffering.
What is the “something” that is more important than these other things? It is to know and have a relationship with God. Jesus Christ came to our planet, lived among us, died as a sacrifice, and then came back to life on the third day, so that we could know God and have a relationship with him.
Jesus could have eliminated hunger from the world. He could have eliminated human suffering. He chose, instead, to meet a deeper human need than physical discomfort and pain. He chose to satisfy our need for the spiritual, for the eternal, for the transcendent. He chose to meet our need to know and worship the God who created us.