Turning Stones into Bread: Why Was It Wrong?

At church this morning, the pastor in his sermon said that Jesus not once thought about himself.  Rather, my pastor said, Jesus served others.  The pastor referred to Jesus healing the sick, and also Jesus turning water into wine at a wedding to spare the wedding couple any embarrassment.  The pastor also mentioned Jesus’ refusal at his temptation to turn stones into bread as an example of Jesus choosing not to think about himself.

I have to admit that I’ve not extensively studied Jesus’ refusal in Matthew 4 and Luke 4 to turn the stones into bread.  To be honest, I don’t know what the big deal would have been had he turned the stones into bread!  I’ve read explanations: Jesus would have been wrong to have turned stones into bread in violation of his Father’s will, Jesus was supposed to depend on God, etc.  But why would it have been against the Father’s will for Jesus to turn stones into bread?  The Father had no problem with Jesus multiplying the loaves and fishes!

Was it a matter of selfishness, as my pastor suggested this morning?  I have a problem with that.  Is self-interest always wrong?  If Jesus could acceptably multiply loaves and fishes to feed others when they were hungry, why was it wrong for him to turn stones into bread to feed himself when he was hungry?  Isn’t it appropriate for people to meet the needs of the hungry, whomever they may be, even if the hungry are they themselves?  Perhaps one could say that Jesus simply shouldn’t have obeyed Satan because, well, it was Satan who was commanding him to do something, and we should never do what Satan says!  I’d like a better answer than that, for I prefer to believe that right is right and wrong is wrong, regardless of who says it.  What I mean is that something is wrong not because Satan commands it, but Satan commands it because it is wrong.  Granted, Satan probably was telling Jesus to do something wrong when he suggested that Jesus turn the stones into bread, but my question is why Jesus turning stones into bread would have been wrong in the first place.  Perhaps some of the considerations that I just mentioned are incomplete parts of the answer, if there’s an answer out there that is more satisfying.

See my post from a while back about Jesus’ temptation: here.

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About jamesbradfordpate

My name is James Pate. I study the History of Biblical Interpretation at Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati, Ohio, as part of its Ph.D. program. I have an M.A. in Hebrew Bible from Jewish Theological Seminary, an M.Div. from Harvard Divinity School, and a B.A. from DePauw University. This blog is about my journey. I read books. I watch movies and TV shows. I go to church. I try to find meaning. And, when I can’t do that, I just talk about stuff that I find interesting.
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6 Responses to Turning Stones into Bread: Why Was It Wrong?

  1. paintbrush89 says:

    Hey James! There is an article that could shed a bit more light on what you’re addressing here…check it out

    http://outofthepicturewords.wordpress.com/2013/01/18/stones-to-bread-the-big-deal/comment-page-1/#comment-21

    Like

  2. jamesbradfordpate says:

    Thanks for your comment and your link, Paintbrush! I’ll take a look at it.

    Like

  3. Pingback: Stone to Bread, and Avoiding Discomfort | James' Ramblings

  4. ebenezer tandoh says:

    TURING STONES TO BREAD WAS TO ATTEND TO ONLY THE MATERIAL AND PHYSICAL NEEDS OF MAN. JESUS REFERRING TO THE WORD OF GOD AS WHAT WE SHOULD LIVE BY POINTS TO THE FACT THAT FEEDING THE SPIRIT WITH THE WORD OF GOD WAS MORE IMPORTANT THAN FEEDING ONLY THE PHYSICAL BODY.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Richard says:

    Another thing to consider is the fact that this Jesus was the incarnation of the Logos who John tells us (John 1:2+3) was with God in the beginning and although through him all things were made yet he laid aside his deity to become a man for us. He willingly chose to be entirely dependant on the Father and so in this temptation Satan is seemingly making a reasonable suggestion to him to use his power to meet a legitimate need i.e. his hunger but his purpose is to get Jesus to act in his own right as the son of God, independently of the Father which he refuses to do. In submitting to God Jesus was also retracing Adams steps for us and succeeding where he failed in order that we could be delivered us from the curse of sin. Our first parent Adam was tempted in a beautiful garden where he had all that he could ever wish for but failed, Jesus experienced his temptation in a hot dry wilderness physically weakened by the hunger of a long fast but remained faithful to God.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. jamesbradfordpate says:

    Well said, Richard.

    Like

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