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These Stones

John the Baptist was not your typical pulpiteer adorned in a three-piece suit, who enjoyed fried chicken for Sunday dinner. Rather he had “his raiment of camel's hair, and a leathern girdle about his loins; and his meat was locusts and wild honey” (Matthew 3:4). As he embarked upon his preaching ministry in the wilderness of Judaea, throngs from Jerusalem, Judaea and regions round about Jordan came to be baptized of him, confessing their sins (3:5-6). 

It was just a matter of time until “many of the Pharisees and Sadducees” showed up to check out what was happening on THEIR turf (3:7). A modern-day, seminary-trained preacher might have thought: “Well glory! The KEY to winning the nation is winning over its religious leadership. It looks like we’re almost there.” Well, it wasn’t in John’s nature to follow the latest, best-selling Church growth manual. When he saw them show up, he exclaimed: “O generation of vipers [venomous snakes], who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come?” (3:7). 

These guys were proud of their NATIONAL pedigree, and thought that entitled them to some SPIRITUAL standing. It’s like John read their minds: “And think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, that God is able of THESE STONES to raise up children unto Abraham” (3:9). In other words, if all God was interested in was drawing a crowd, he could accomplish that by turning these stones into children; the implication being, it might easier to turn these rocks into children than turn your stony hearts into pliable receptacles for the TRUTH!

Satan was an invisible by-stander to these wilderness events, and no doubt took notes regarding John’s ‘stones-to-kids’ claim. After John baptized Jesus, he spent forty days fasting in the wilderness, and “was afterward an hungered” (4:3). The verb “hungred” means “to be famished to the point of craving.” If Jesus was at 10% or less body fat when he began his fast (and that’s a distinct possibility), his body was in a world of hurt at the end of forty days. The stage was now set for the first of three temptations. 

So with note pad in hand, Satan approached Jesus with this challenge: “If thou be the Son of God, command that THESE STONES be made bread” (4:3). What Satan tempted Jesus to do was actually LESS miraculous than John’s ‘stones-to-kids’ claim. If God was able to by-pass the ‘conception-to-birth’ process, surely it would no problem for him to perform a lesser feat in by-passing the ‘seed-to-harvest’ process. Jesus responded: “It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God” (4:4). 

Satan mistakenly assumed Jesus was living a one-dimensional life, that being ‘famished’ would provide the perfect venue to appeal to his natural instincts for physical survival. While Jesus was physically famished, he had experienced NO LACK of spiritual bread in the second dimension. In other words: “Satan, my body may be FAMISHED due to fasting, but my spirit is FULL of the bread of TRUTH, upon which I’ve been feasting these last forty days!”

There’s a lot for us to learn from THESE STONES. There is perhaps no greater tragedy in this world than for an individual to be famished in spirit for lack of the bread of truth when EVERY WORD of it is readily available in thousands of bookstores across our land. In addition, every child of God should be determined to feed upon those WORDS every day of their lives in order to sustain life in the second (and most important) dimension! text


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