Matthew 4:03-04

4:3       ...and the tester came and said to him,

'If you are Son of God,

tell these stones to turn into loaves.'

4:4       But he replied,

'Scripture says: Human beings live not on bread alone

but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.'


Jesus is in the desert. Some moments earlier he has been baptised by John the Baptist (3:16-17).

On that occasion the spirit from heaven descended upon him and a voice from heaven said: ‘This is my son, the beloved, my favour rests on him.’ The spirit led Jesus to the desert. He fasted for forty days and forty nights, after which he was hungry.

Then the tester come to him and reminds him that he is ‘son of God’...


Mark was the first one to write a Gospel about Jesus. About 10 or 20 years after him Matthew and Luke showed up. Mark (1:12-13) tells that Jesus went to the desert for forty days at the beginning of his public life. These forty days reminds us of the forty years God’s people drifted in the desert. In that time it found God as their life partner.

Mark says that Jesus was tempted in the desert, but he doesn’t tell the content of the temptation.

Matthew and Luke do. They tell that Jesus had to undergo three temptations. First Jesus is tempted to change stones into breads. Secondly Jesus is tempted to throw himself down from the temple and to show that angels should carry him. Thirdly he is tempted to adore the devil.

Luke tells the same stories but in a different order. What Matthew tells as the second temptation is in Luke’s gospel the third one; and vice versa.

The devil tempts Jesus to change stones into breads.

Jesus answers with a citation from the Old Testament book of Deuteronomy (8:3).

There remains the question: what exactly is the temptation? Changing stones into bread: why should it be a temptation? What is wrong with it?

Picture Mediation

I look at Jesus. What does his naked body tell me? His attitude? I look at his face: what does it express?

What is the meaning of the gestures of his hands? The right one open to heaven; the left one touching a stone on the ground.

I look at the evil spirit with his different skin colour. Naked as well. What does his appearance tell me? His attitude? His gesture? His strange eye?

I see three stones. Does that number have a special meaning?

Can I recognize Jesus’ answer in the picture:

‘Human beings live not on bread alone

but on every word that comes from the mouth of God'?

I try to remember a time in which I was ever in Jesus’ situation. Approached and tempted by a (or the) evil spirit; or if I brought another person into a situation in which Jesus is here.

Does the picture help to bring the message of the Gospel or the person of Jesus closer to me?

- Meditation by Fr Dries van den Akker S.J