The temptation to turn stones into bread

Jesus stands in a cave in the wilderness. He has been fasting and is hungry. A kneeling figure (Satan in the form of a fellow hermit) holds up stones, inviting him to turn them into bread. Beyond this figure the land opens up, also an invitation. Jesus could come out from the cave, turn stones into bread to feed himself, and others, and then possess the kingdoms of the world. Jesus turns his head, considering the invitation, but his fixed body, turned towards the inside of the cave, reveals that he will resist and remain where he is, hungry.

The image is by James Tissot (Jésus tenté dans le desert, 1886-94, Brooklyn Museum).

‘The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become a loaf of bread.” Jesus answered him, “It is written, ‘One does not live by bread alone.’” Then the devil led him up and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. And the devil said to him, “To you I will give their glory and all this authority; for it has been given over to me, and I give it to anyone I please. If you, then, will worship me, it will all be yours.” Jesus answered him, “It is written, ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve only him.’”

Luke 4:3-8

Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.

Mark 14:38

“Jesus’ first temptation was to be relevant: to turn stones into bread. Oh, how I wished I could do that! Are we not called to do something that makes people realize that we do make a difference in their lives? Aren’t we called to heal the sick, feed the hungry, and alleviate the suffering of the poor? Jesus was faced with the same questions, but when he was asked to prove his power as the Son of God by the relevant behavior of turning stones into bread, he clung to his mission to proclaim the word and said, “Human beings live not by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.”

Henri Nouwen, In the name of Jesus, Reflections on Christian Leadership

Holy, blessed, and glorious Trinity,
have mercy on us.

From all evil and mischief:
from pride, vanity, and hypocrisy:
from envy, hatred, and malice:
and from all evil intent.
good Lord, deliver us.

From sloth, worldliness, and love of money:
from hardness of heart
and contempt for your word and your laws,
good Lord, deliver us.

From sins of body and mind:
from the deceits of the world, the flesh, and the devil;
from error and false doctrine,
good Lord, deliver us.

In all times of sorrow,
in all times of joy:
in the hour of death,
and at the day of judgement,
good Lord, deliver us.

Litany of Penitence