Thought for the Day by Nigel Greenwood (St Chad’s)
Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, left the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, where for forty days he was tempted by the devil. He ate nothing during those days, and at the end of them he was hungry. The devil said to him “If you are the Son of God, tell this stone to become bread.” Jesus answered “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone.’”
Today we commemorate the life of Luke – disciple, physician and companion of Paul. Sometimes called Saint Luke the Evangelist, in addition to his Gospel he is also regarded as author of the Acts of the Apostles and played an important role in the early Christian mission. Both books of the bible attributed to Luke are addressed to Theophilus – thought to be a leader in the city of Antioch, as his Gospel starts:
Many have undertaken to draw up an account of the things that have been fulfilled among us, just as they were handed down to us by those who from the first were eyewitnesses and servants of the word. With this in mind, since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, I too decided to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, so that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught.
These words reinforce the view of Luke as a scholar writing a historical account, and indeed today’s reading tells how Jesus begins his temptation in the wilderness, ending with a repeat of the powerful and timeless phrase from Deuteronomy which looks beyond our basic survival needs towards our human flourishing as a people of God – reminding us that we do not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord. Whilst we need food to eat, there is also a higher need for the spiritual nourishment through faith and worship which enhances our quality of life – as we are assured that in preparation for his temptation, Jesus was filled by the Holy Spirit.
Unlike Matthew, Luke does not complete the full quotation from Deuteronomy: ‘Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” Much has been written about this phrase, sometimes even questioning the need for actual food – but the key word is surely ‘alone’, as with so many aspects of our humanity and well-being there is a need for wholeness, balance and sustenance. Christ’s powerful words take us beyond our basic survival needs to an infinitely higher and life-enhancing state in which the word of God permeates our very being – driving and drawing us to love and serve the Lord in all we say and do.
This video tells us more about who Luke was: