Matthew 4:1-4, “Man shall not live on bread alone”_Ps. Kitazawa

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1. In January, we reflected on the words of Jesus Christ who came to our world as a man. During a time of testing, he said, “Man shall not live on bread alone.” Today we will continue reflecting on this passage.

What did Jesus mean when he said, “Man shall not live on bread alone”? In my last message, we answered the question this way: “What people need to truly live is to know the purpose and meaning of life, to have hope about the afterlife, and to have a joyful, thankful, vibrant life—and these needs cannot be sustained by bread alone.”

2. In other words Jesus is saying that to live such a vibrant life, we need more than bread, don’t we?

Let me step away from this passage for a moment and tell you about my family. My wife and I have 4 children.

It was a long, long time ago that we first heard that joyful announcement in the hospital, “Congratulations, you have a healthy baby!” Still, even though our children were all born over 40 years ago, it’s amazing how deeply those moments are engraved in my memory.

The newborn child, eyes barely able to see, is given its mother’s breast. I can almost see those moments as if they were still happening right in front of me.

I, as a man, felt I like an outsider, watching that sacred moment between mother and child.

My wife, after she finished giving the baby its first milk, said gently—as if she already had already known our child for many years—“Good boy / Good girl. Your tummy’s all full now. You’re such a cutie. Alright, time to sleep.”

Every time I witnessed that scene, I was reminded of what the Lord Jesus says in Matthew 4 verse 4: “Man

shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.” And each time, I thought:

“What a happy life this child will have, if they are raised on such warmth and affectionate words from their mother.”

3. You may have heard of Helen Keller or even read her biography. She’s quite well known, even in Japan.

As you may know, Helen Keller found herself in a world where she could not see or hear or even speak. Up to a certain age, she was like a wild, unpredictable beast. But one day, words came to her. (And the first word was “water”). On that fateful day, it was as if words came into her, transforming her from beast to human.

Through words, she came to understand she was a person. Through words, she came to know she had a mother who gave birth to her. Through words, she learned that many people loved her. And through words, she discovered that there was a God who loved her too.

Since then, many words came to her, not only in the English language but also French, German, Latin, and Ancient Greek. And she became a great figure who inspired a large number of people. Her life demonstrates how the word can transform a person.

4. She is not the only one. Each of us, too, have a great number of words inside us. What kind of words are in us? I believe these words have shaped who we are.

The Lord Jesus said, “Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.” Of all the things we need to truly live, there is no more important thing than the Word that comes from God—each and every word from Him.

When we talk about what it means to live, we don’t mean simply breathing air or simply existing. What we

mean by life is a vibrant life full of hope, joy, and gratitude. To know your life’s purpose and meaning, to have

hope in the afterlife, to move forward in your earthly life with gratitude and joy—that’s what it means to live.

This is what the Lord Jesus meant. For us to truly live, we need nothing less than every loving word that comes from the mouth of God. However, as I said in my last message, this does not mean Jesus was telling us to neglect our need for physical food.

While there are wealthy and privileged people who are well-fed even without the need to work, most of us have to toil to earn our bread. And that work isn’t easy.

There are hard times when we have nothing to live on but plain, empty miso soup. Losing your job is losing a way to earn your bread. Hard times await. That’s one reality. Perhaps, before you know it, you may become a person who only cares about earning your keep, who puts practicality first.

But the Lord who loves us does not want us to fall into the trap of being overly pragmatic, of having a tunnel vision of reality that actually leads us to death and not life. Through today’s Scripture, He is inviting each of us to live truly and fully. “Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.”

5. My home is close to the ocean. The other day, I was walking along the beach. I saw, gliding across the sky, a black kite—which is a bird of prey.

When you are walking by the sea and you see large birds flying across the sky, what comes to mind?

If you were Leonard da Vinci, you would have thought, “If only humans could fly like that.” This was centuries ago, but da Vinci had already drawn designs for an aircraft. Brilliant men like him are on a whole other level.

Average men like me do not come up with such boldly original ideas. So what I did think of when I saw that bird cruising across the sky? I thought of Jesus’ words which some of you know well: “Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?” Words from Matthew chapter 6 verse 26.

At that moment, I felt in my heart, “Yes, exactly!” The next moment, the Lord’s words echoed in my heart, one after another. “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die.” (John 11:25)

Words from the Old Testament came to mind too. “I have summoned you by name. You are mine.” (Isaiah 43:1) “Since you are precious and honored in my sight, and because I love you…” (Isaiah 43:4)

That day I had been feeling quite down, but as these words came one after another, I felt the strength to go on suddenly well up inside me.

As our Lord Jesus said, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”

Let us act on what the Lord Jesus encourages us to do: to steadily and faithfully read the Word.

And from his Word, receive his comfort, encouragement, hope. And setting our eyes on his kingdom, move forward—no matter how feeble our footsteps may be. This is my heartfelt desire for us all.

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