Opening The Word
Dr. Edward M. Keazirian, Th.D.
Assistant Professor of Greek
and Director of the Greek Language Program
“After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. The tempter came to him and said, ‘If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.’” (Matthew 4:2–3).
So, what’s wrong with making bread? Look, this isn’t exactly rocket science: You’re hungry and a guy’s gotta eat, right? No big deal. Go ahead. It’s just bread.
Well, apparently Jesus thought it was a big deal––a big enough deal that he confronts the tempter with an answer from Scripture, “It is written: ‘Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God’” (Matthew 4:4 quoted from Deuteronomy 8:3).
This is just the first of three temptations Jesus will face in his encounter with Satan, but it is the most important for anyone who aspires to follow Christ. In this first skirmish, Jesus defines by word and deed the essence, authority and role of Scripture for every disciple. When Jesus quotes the text from Deuteronomy, he is reminding himself––and affirming for his disciples––that the words of Scripture are in essence the very words of God. It is not that the Scripture contains the word of God or that in human experience it somehow becomes the word of God, but rather the words written in
Scripture actually are God’s own words. These words are, as is all of Scripture, God-breathed (2 Timothy 3:16).
Similarly, Jesus affirms that Scripture, as the Word of God, is truth and is endowed with the full authority of God. Therefore, he and his disciples after him are to believe and obey the Scriptures. Even Satan understands that God’s Word is supremely true and authoritative, and so his first tactic is always to cast doubt on God’s Word: “Did God really say, . . .” (Genesis 3:1) or “If you are the Son of God, . . .” (Matthew 4:3). Thus, every temptation ultimately tests our allegiance to the word and authority of God.
Rather than question God’s Word, Jesus uses the Scripture to dispel doubt. Jesus relies upon the Scripture as the basis for his preaching and teaching (doctrine), for reprimanding Satan (rebuke), for reestablishing proper belief and behavior (correction), and for continuing education and maturation (training in righteousness). Jesus thus demonstrates in his own life the role that Scripture should play in the life of every disciple and every church (2 Timothy 3:16).
So, what’s wrong with making bread? Nothing, unless it leads you to betray your God, your identity, and your destiny. And that is exactly what was at stake for Jesus. Satan’s seemingly harmless suggestion that Jesus make himself some bread was just the first step in his strategy to dissuade Jesus from going to the cross and ultimately to eliminate the redemptive work of Christ. Satan is still out there seeking ways to destroy those who follow Christ. Therefore, as disciples and as those making disciples, we must by our words and deeds accord the same identity, authority and role to Scripture that Christ himself did. Our very survival depends upon it.
Dr. Edward M. Keazirian II, Assistant Professor of Greek and Director of the Greek Language Program, has a background in evangelism and discipleship through InterVarsity Christian Fellowship and the Navigators. He has also served as a minister of evangelism and discipleship in a local church. Currently, he is involved in multiple ministries in his church; is a guest speaker for churches, conferences and campus ministries; and is a member of the U.S. support organization for InterVarsity in the Philippines. He received M.Div. and Th.M. degrees from Gordon-Conwell and a Th.D. from Boston University School of Theology.