"Man shall not live on bread alone..." (Matthew 4:4)

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." Jesus answered, "It is written: 'Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.'" (Matthew 4:4)

Is Jesus quoting Moses?

Yes, Jesus is quoting Moses here. It is very interesting that Jesus would quote Moses on a fast through the desert for 40 days. Is this a coincidence?

No. Moses fasted for 40 days:
Moses was there with the LORD forty days and forty nights without eating bread or drinking water. And he wrote on the tablets the words of the covenant--the Ten Commandments. (Exodus 34:28)
So did Elijah:
So he got up and ate and drank. Strengthened by that food, he traveled forty days and forty nights until he reached Horeb, the mountain of God. (1 Kings 19:8)
So we find precedent for such a fasting period in ancient times. It is likely that many other saints and pilgrims fasted for 40 days in ancient times.

Thus we can conclude that Jesus' fast would have a commemorative aspect: A dedication to Moses and his commitment to the Supreme Being.

We also find some additional symbolism with Moses' teachings, and his trek through the desert for 40 years with the Israelites. Jesus was drawing attention to the dedication of Moses to the Supreme Being.

Indeed, the three temptations of Jesus during this fast all include quotes from Moses. 

Here is the passage Jesus is quoting from - spoken by Moses to his followers after they had traveled through the desert:
"He [the Lord your God] humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your ancestors had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD." (Deuteronomy 8:3)
What does this passage mean and what does Moses and Jesus mean by "man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD"? This is discussed below.

What does 'bread alone' mean?

Moses and Jesus were speaking of our spiritual connection with the Supreme Being. "From the mouth of God" is a metaphor. It means to rely upon the Supreme Being. Moses was speaking of the Israelites taking refuge in God.

This is also a spiritual supposition. Not needing physical food is a topic relating to our spiritual identity.

Each of us is essentially made of spirit. We are not these physical bodies. These physical bodies are temporary vehicles. They will last no more than a few decades and then they will die and begin to decompose - eventually turning into dirt.

Each of us is a spirit-person living within a physical body.

We can see this when we look at a photo of our body when it was a child. That body is now gone. Every molecule that made up that body has been replaced by new molecules - as every molecule in the body is replaced within five years.

Who is looking at the photo? And who was there when the photo was taken? Don't we say "this is me"? If the childhood body is gone now, yet we still say "this is me" - this means that we - "me" - is not the physical body. We are the personality who pervaded - who existed - within both the child body and the body we wear now.

This spirit-person is invisible to the physical eyes, because these eyes cannot see into the spiritual dimension. The spirit-person is of another plane of existence. It is of the spiritual dimension - a dimension not seen by the physical eyes. The physical eyes were designed to see a particular range or spectrum of wavelengths and not others. They see certain frequencies of lightwaves as those light waves bounce off of the molecules of the forms of the physical world.

This is why we cannot see any difference between a living body and a body that just died. We don't see the spirit-person leaving the physical body.

Because our identity is spiritual, we require food that is more than physical "bread." The physical body may need constant fuel in the form of "bread" in order to remain functioning. But the spirit-person that Jesus and Moses are speaking of needs something more. What is it?

What is our spiritual food?

It is the food that feeds the spiritual self.

Our spiritual food is our relationship with the Supreme Being. This is what gives each of us real life. And this is the only thing that will make us happy.

Just think about it. We are each looking for happiness in this physical world and never finding it. We look for happiness in the objects of the senses. We look for happiness by achieving wealth. We look for happiness by achieving fame and the acclaim of others. We look for happiness by having a big house. We look for happiness by achieving some goal of accomplishment.

Yet none of these physical things make us happy. We are still empty within. Even those who have the most of these things are still empty within.

So we look for happiness through our relationships with those around us. We look for happiness in our spouses, our children and our family. And to a degree, we do find a glimpse of happiness within these relationships.

But this fleeting happiness fades as these people leave us or break up with us. Our spouse may divorce us or die. Our children will grow up and move out. Our mother and father and grandparents will all die one day. Each of these events will leave us empty and alone.

Because they are temporary relationships. Yes, we might see them in a different lifetime but we won't recognize them as we knew them before. We will have to start a brand new relationship with them and won't remember the last one we had with them.

In other words, all the relationships of the physical world - these relationships of the physical body - are all temporary. They don't last. And the happiness we are looking for in the physical world does not exist. The world only offers us the illusion of happiness. And the illusion that we are these bodies and we are permanently these physical bodies.

Who is the 'tempter'?

This description provides a combination of events and symbolic parable. We see a historical connection between Jesus' fast in the desert and Jesus' departing John the Baptist and then beginning his teachings.

But the events of the fast also take on a symbolic theme. For example, there is no mountain on the earth for which one can see every kingdom of the earth.

Similarly, this is not describing a specific person - "Satan the tempter" - as though God has lost control over this person and he has the power to deceive God and bring us over to his team.

Rather, the "tempter" is symbolic of an aspect of the physical world that constantly tests us.

This is the illusory nature of the physical world - designed by the Supreme Being. And this is "the tempter" being spoken of in Matthew 4:3.

The physical world is constantly tempting us with promises of wealth, popularity and sensual satisfaction. All of these are magnified for someone who is attempting to serve and honor the Supreme Being.

The physical world provides a constant testing ground for the soul. These tests come in the form of temptations, which are repeatedly offered to us with promises of self-satisfaction. The test is whether we succumb to those tests during our temporary stay in the physical realm.

But this is not the case in the spiritual realm. The Supreme Being is eternal and our relationship with the Supreme Being is eternal. And we find true happiness within our loving service relationship with the Supreme Being.

We have forgotten this relationship with the Supreme Being. This is the purpose of the physical world and these physical bodies. This is the purpose for the illusory nature - "the tempter": To help us escape from and forget God.

But our relationship with Him is forever. We simply have forgotten that relationship.

This is because the Supreme Being gives each of us the freedom to love Him or not. Love requires freedom.

So those of us in the physical world are here because we chose not to love the Supreme Being.

Even so, the Supreme Being wants us to come home to Him. He wants us to return to our loving relationship with Him. This is because He loves us and He knows we will only be happy when we have resumed our relationship with Him.

And what is that relationship? It is the loving relationship we are perpetually looking for as we seek love within the physical world. This is the loving relationship we seek as we look for our soul mate and seek love with family members. We are looking for our lost relationship of love with the Perfect Person.

What does 'living on every word' mean?

"Living on every word that comes from the mouth of God" means living for the Supreme Being - taking refuge in God and dedicating our life to Him.

When we are in love with another person, we will do what pleases them. Should they want to go somewhere in particular, we will go there. Or when they say they want to eat a certain food, we go get them that food.

What are we doing as we are doing all those things? We are living off of "every word that comes from the mouth" of that person.

Yes, "every word that comes from the mouth" is an expression. It is an expression - used by Moses and even still used today - that refers to doing what is pleasing to that person. It refers to having a loving service relationship with that person.

And this is what Moses and Jesus were asking of their followers: To renew their loving service relationship with the Supreme Being.

And Jesus' lived this instruction as well. Consider this statement he made:
"By myself I can do nothing; I judge only as I hear, and my judgment is just, for I seek not to please myself but Him who sent me." (John 5:30)
Jesus is stating that his pleasure ("I seek") is derived from pleasing the Supreme Being. He also states this elsewhere - for example:
"For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of Him who sent me." (John 6:38)
Jesus is referring to his loving relationship with the Supreme Being. He wants to do whatever the Supreme Being wants him to do. This means he is living off of "every word that comes from the mouth of God.'"

And because the Supreme Being wants each of us to return to our loving relationship with Him, Jesus' efforts were focused upon encouraging and teaching those around him to return to their loving service relationship with the Supreme Being. This was also clearly communicated in the most important teaching of both Jesus and Moses:
" 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment." (Matt. 22:37-38)


"It is also written: 'Do not put the Lord your God to the test.'" (Matthew 4:7)

This is Jesus' response:
Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. "If you are the Son of God," he said, "throw yourself down. For it is written: " 'He will command his angels concerning you, and they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.'" (Matthew 4:5-6)

Is the 'devil' literally quoting scripture to Jesus?

If we take this story literally, then yes. But since this story is not directly narrated by Jesus, where is it coming from? If we assume that one of Jesus' followers recorded the Book of Matthew, then this story was retold. Was this event originally told by Jesus?

There was no one else present. So Jesus would have had to tell this. Unless of course, it is more of a legend. It could have been originally told by Jesus in a metaphorical manner and then expanded by the writer of the Book of Matthew.

We should also note that the same event is described, nearly precisely the same, in the Book of Luke as well. In the Book of Mark there is a brief mention:
At once the Spirit sent him out into the wilderness, and he was in the wilderness forty days, being tempted by Satan. He was with the wild animals, and angels attended him. (Mark 1:12-13)
The Book of John makes no mention of this. 

Most Biblical scholars agree that Matthew, Mark and Luke have a source in the same document - some describe as the Q source.

But once the full Gospel of Thomas was found and translated, many scholars have agreed that this text - which appears to have predated Matthew, Mark and Luke - is the source of these three Gospels.

Since there is no source mentioned - where Jesus or someone else describes having observed this event - and no event portrayed in the Gospel of Thomas, we have to accept the possibility that this event may have been added later by scribes.

Why would scribes have added this text later? There are some interesting parallels between this event and the events of Moses narrated in Deuteronomy:

1) Both Moses and Jesus fasted for 40 days.
2) Both Moses and Jesus went away to the desert
3) Moses returned with the Ten Commandments
4) Jesus began his teaching mission upon his return from the desert

This has led many to assume that Jesus was the new Moses. As if Moses was the old guard and Jesus is the new guard. This opens up the potential motive related to conversion many centuries ago.

Such a premise is possible specifically due to the presence of this event - which has no source. (For example, a source would mean that Jesus described this event to someone else, or someone observed it.)

The other possibility is that Jesus did describe his ordeal to his followers later on. If this is the case, it is possible that Jesus described the devil in a metaphorical manner - not literally, in other words.

We can easily assume it is not literal, since there is no location in the Judean desert where a person could see every kingdom in the whole world.

Otherwise, we have a situation where the "devil" is quoting scripture to Jesus.

What is the devil quoting from?

The verse the "devil" is quoting comes from David's Psalm 91. Here is the Psalm in its entirety, with the verse quoted by the "devil" in bold:
Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.I will say of the LORD, "He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust."Surely He will save you from the fowler's snare and from the deadly pestilence.He will cover you with his feathers, and under His wings you will find refuge; His faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.You will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day,nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, nor the plague that destroys at midday.A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you.You will only observe with your eyes and see the punishment of the wicked.If you say, "The LORD is my refuge," and you make the Most High your dwelling,no harm will overtake you, no disaster will come near your tent. For He will command His angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways; they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone. You will tread on the lion and the cobra; you will trample the great lion and the serpent."Because he loves Me," says the LORD, "I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges My Name.He will call on Me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him.With long life I will satisfy him and show him My salvation." (Psalm 91)

Who was David referring to?

In other words, who is the subject of this Psalm? Is it the "Son of God"?

The subject of this Psalm is clearly stated at the beginning with: "Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High..."

Then the subject of this Psalm is further elaborated with: "Because he loves Me..."

"Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High." This means it is a conditional description of anyone who takes shelter of the Supreme Being. Anyone who surrenders and dedicates their life to the Supreme Being.

David is also considering himself in this position as he states:
"I will say of the LORD, "He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust."
This indicates that while David is explaining what happens when a person takes shelter of the Supreme Being, he is also engaging himself.

And he is engaging the reader as well:. "Surely he will save you from the fowler's snare and from the deadly pestilence" and so on. David is telling the reader that if we take shelter in the Supreme Being then we will be protected. The Supreme Being will give us protection.

And according to this Psalm, the Supreme Being's protection also utilizes God's angels:
For He will command His angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways;they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone. (Psalm 91:11-12)
This is clearly stating that if we take shelter in the Supreme Being, then God's protection of us will extend to His angels, as they also will watch over one who is taking shelter of God.

So what does this have to do with Jesus being the "son of God" then?

Is 'Son of God' a mistranslation?

The word "son" here is being translated from the Greek word υἱός (huios). According to the lexicon, this word can only mean "son" "in a restricted sense, the male offspring (one born by a father and of a mother)." Outside of this "restricted sense, it indicates another type of relationship: "used to describe one who depends on another or is his follower." In other words, a devoted follower or loving servant.

Now we can match up the person David is speaking of in Psalm 91 - "Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High" and "because he loves Me" with the attribute given to Jesus - υἱὸς εἶ τοῦ θεοῦ - which is typically versed as υἱὸς τοῦ θεοῦ. The word θεοῦ is the Name of God - the Supreme Being. And τοῦ means "of".

This means that υἱὸς τοῦ θεοῦ doesn't translate to "son of God" but rather "devoted follower of God" or "loving servant of God." This is not only confirmed by the Greek alone, but with Psalm 91 referring to "Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High" - which is precisely what a "devoted follower of God" or "loving servant of God" does.

And how about the word εἶ in this particular verse? εἶ is the second person singular - which translates to "you are" or "thou art" in the King's English.

In other words, the "devil" is stating the conditional just as Psalm 91 is: "If you are the loving servant of God then throw yourself down..."

Why would the "devil" be saying this? Because Psalm 91 defines clearly that if a person takes shelter in the Supreme Being then the Supreme Being will protect him. Since Jesus was a "devoted follower" or "loving servant" of the Supreme Being - then he would be protected. This is the challenge the "devil" is giving Jesus.

Who is Jesus quoting?

Jesus is responding with a statement from Moses:
"It is also written: 'Do not put the Lord your God to the test.'"
Jesus is quoting Moses as Moses instructed his students:
"Do not put the LORD your God to the test as you did at Massah." (Deut. 6:16)
Moses is referring to a time when his followers the Israelites tested God:
And he called the place Massah and Meribah because the Israelites quarreled and because they tested the LORD saying, "Is the LORD among us or not?" (Exodus 17:7)
Thus we find the foundation of this exchange between the "devil" and Jesus during his 40-day fast in the desert. We find that Jesus was being encouraged to challenge and test the bond God gives those who take shelter in Him, as said by David:
If you say, "The LORD is my refuge," and you make the Most High your dwelling,no harm will overtake you, no disaster will come near your tent. (Psalm 91:9-10)
Jesus refused to test the Supreme Being as he was challenged by the "devil."

Why is this important? Because Moses, David and Jesus are all discussing the same thing: A relationship with the Supreme Being.

They are discussing the love that exists between the Supreme Being and someone who takes refuge in the Supreme Being.

What is this relationship based upon?

It is a relationship built upon trust.

The very notion of taking refuge or shelter in someone is a proposition of trust. By taking shelter, such a person is saying 'I trust in you.' 'I trust that you will take care of me.'

And by testing the Supreme Being, one abandons that very trust at the foundation of their relationship.

This illustrates precisely the relationship between Jesus and the Supreme Being - also described by υἱὸς τοῦ θεοῦ - "devoted follower of God," "loving servant of God," or in this case, "Representative of God."

When a person puts themselves at the feet of the Supreme Being and becomes His devoted follower and servant, this is an expression of our natural position. Each of us was created by the Supreme Being to have a loving relationship with Him - to serve Him and please Him.

Doesn't love require freedom?

Yes. The Supreme Being gives each of us the freedom to love Him or not.

And those who chose not to love the Supreme Being - those who wanted to act independently of Him - the opposite of taking refuge - were sent to the physical world and given these temporary physical bodies. Why?

You see, when a person loses their love for the Supreme Being it leaves a hole in the heart. A hole where there once was love for the Supreme Being.

This hole in the heart creates self-centeredness. In order to fill that emptiness created by losing our love for the Supreme Being, our focus turns to ourselves. We want to become the greatest. We want to become the best. We want to become the hero.

This is why everyone in the physical world is striving so hard to win. Each of us wants to win because winning represents being on top. Winning represents being the best.

But this is God's position. Yes, the citizens of the physical world are all competing for God's position, because we have lost and forgotten our loving relationship with the Supreme Being - so we are trying to fill our emptiness with self-centeredness.

But this is not our natural position. This is why even a person who wins seven or even eleven gold medals at the Olympics is still empty inside. That person might be called the greatest athlete ever, but that person is still empty inside, and is still searching to become fulfilled.

This indicates two things: First it indicates that we are not these physical bodies. These bodies are vehicles that we get in and drive for a while. This body will only live a few decades and then it will die.

Just consider if a driver of a car is hungry and pulls up to the gas station to get some gas. Will putting gas in the gas tank make the driver less hungry? No. Because the driver is not the car. The car and the driver are distinct.

In the same way, each of us is distinct from our physical bodies. Even if our bodies get the best food, the most wealth, and the most fame - we will still be unfulfilled. Because we are spiritual beings. We are not physical bodies.

And we - the spirit-persons within this temporary body - need spiritual food. What is that?

What will satisfy us?

The only thing that will satisfy us is our loving relationship with God. This is the only thing that will satisfy us because this is our natural position.

Our natural position is our loving service relationship with the Supreme Being. Our natural position is to take shelter in Him, and serve Him, and love Him, and He takes care of us. He protects us - the spirit-person. And He gives us the love that we are always looking for as we search the world for fulfillment.

This is the basis for the relationship that is being described between Jesus and the Supreme Being. Jesus confirmed this relationship elsewhere:
"By myself I can do nothing; I judge only as I hear, and my judgment is just, for I seek not to please myself but Him who sent me." (John 5:30)