The moment he is called out as the chosen one and the spirit newly rests upon his shoulders like Elijah’s mantle, Jesus is lead by the spirit into a wilderness of suffering and insufficiency—because that is the state of all man. And in that state, in that place, he faces the ultimate representation of adversity--The Adversary--that which opposes all man. Why? Why at the beginning?
Suffering--vulnerability--want--death-- is laid out before him at the beginning, because that is where his journey will end. And before he can minister--transform--change--before he can relieve the world’s suffering--it is absolutely fundamental that he confronts the question of what to do about his own suffering and insufficiency—of the temptation of not having, but having the power to get.
What does he do in that wilderness—in that state?
What do you do? That same wilderness of suffering and death is of course your natural habitat. What do you do?
Do you have the power to change lifeless green paper into bread and satisfy yourself? The world says you do. Jesus says to the world, “I don’t need what you are offering.” He is stating that in your chronic condition of suffering, life is not about getting what you want--it is about accepting it. And those are very different things. Opposite actually. It is facing it. Not avoiding it. He knows real life actually exists outside of your wants. Transcends it.
"More than bread alone" is the tap on my wife—Betsy’s shoulder in the grocery store by the cash register worker who she talks about all the time and cares for and prays for and has developed a relationship with; and says things like, My friend is not here today. I wonder where she is? How she is?
What is the goal of a trip to the grocery store? Where does life happen in the grocery store? Is it the exchanging of a plastic card for bread?
But then, right in the middle of our lives, right in the middle of “I don’t have. I must get,” right in the middle of the grocery store…a tap on the shoulder. It’s her! And look! She was on her break and she saw Betsy and wanted to see her. Then, two people smiling at each other in the middle of their lives. They talk about life. They talk about hurts and joys. And Jesus looks over to the Adversary with a smile on his face, “See, where life is?”
When Betsy gets to her car, she realizes she inadvertently stole a few items at the self-checkout and has to go in to pay for them. Why did that happen? Because she had left the wilderness of want and inhabited the kingdom of heaven. And, she, a creator of new worlds, takes joy in that moment, too.
Where is life? It transcends our sufferings and our wants. It is more satisfying than a break at a work. It is worth more than bread alone.