"Jesus doesn't really care about you..." "Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean," the leper in Matthew 8 said to Jesus. Jesus was willing then, but not now it would sometimes seem.
"You're not good enough." Really? He counts our hairs (Matthew 10:30) and gathers our tears in a bottle (Psalm 56:8).
"Your faith is worthless! If you were really a Christian..." Jesus said it only takes the faith of a mustard seed--the tiniest of seeds. He didn't turn away the one who had just a modicum of faith. "Help me in my unbelief!" the father in Mark 9:24 begged, and Jesus didn't reject him--he healed his child.
The tempter hissed in Jesus' ear too. "If you are the Son of God..." he challenged Christ. The lie was powerful to a parched and hungry man, a sock in the gut when he was already down, a blow of pure hatred at his weakest moment.
And in that moment, Jesus had a choice. He was fully God, he did have the power to turn stone into bread. But in his very first words, he chooses instead to identify fully, completely with us. "Man..." He is not only God. He is man. And he chose to live as we do.
Most of us don't have the ability to snap our fingers and make trouble or pain go away--and I don't think it's a lack of faith, though sometimes that may be an issue. I think most Christians have at least as much faith as the father who asked Jesus to help him in his unbelief. At least as much as a mustard-seed. But our mountains don't always move.
Jesus in that moment chose to identify with us, in our pain, and told us in effect, you don't need the removal of pain to live. "‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’"
His words echo Deuteronomy 8:2-3,
Remember how the LORD your God led you all the way in the wilderness these forty years, to humble and test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands. He 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.Jesus spent a day in the desert for every year they wandered in the desert. God's spirit led him into the desert to starve--the very thing the Israelites accused God of leading them into the desert to do, despite the food and water and clothes that didn't wear out that God provided for them. And we, too, wander in our faith at times, in our deserts of pain and trouble and silence from God. And we wonder, why has he brought us here?
Jesus identified with us. Maybe he brought us into the desert that we might identify with him. That we might be able to see beyond the pain, the trouble, the thing we think we just can't live through--and see that he, the Bread of Life truly knows, truly understands, lives through the pain with us--and he will see us through. He is what we need most of all.
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