We love Top 10’s. Top ten greatest sports moments. Top ten greatest songs of all time. Top ten weirdest animals. Top ten most watched movies. Top ten best performing stocks. Top ten best inventions in history. Of course, top ten lists can be negative too. Top ten worst things to say in a job interview. Or, the FBI’s top ten most wanted list.
Today I want to look at a Top Ten list from God’s Word: The Top Ten Things Jesus Said. Jesus is ranked by Time magazine as the #1 most influential person in history. No one’s life has had more of an impact on human beings than Jesus of Nazareth.
Now, what if we tried to find the greatest statements made by the greatest person who ever lived? It’s no small task! The volume of what He said is tremendous, but, it’s vast sublime quality of every word that makes it hard to choose between one statement and the next. Obviously this isn’t an official top ten. The Lord did not inform me of this list. This whole matter is subjective, and the each of us here may come up with completely different top tens of our own.
And please do not mistake this as making light of our Lord’s words. The point of this whole series is to amplify the greatest words ever spoken on this earth and inspire a renewed devotion to our Lord’s teachings.
You’ll notice as we go through each statement how a variety of subjects are covered. One verse may speak to an attribute of God while another describes a teaching on Christian living, or salvation, or the mission of the Church.
So lets jump into our Top 10, the Top Ten Things Jesus Said. Number 10 is found in Matthew 4:4,
“It is written: Man does not live on bread alone, but, on every word that comes from the mouth of God.”
The reason this is one of the top ten is because it speaks to the necessity and sufficiency of the God’s Word. The Word of God is necessary for salvation, Romans 10:17 says “Faith comes by hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ.” God’s words are needed for our spiritual growth, Acts 20:32 says, “Now I commit you to God and to the word of His grace, which can build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified.”
And we must revere God’s Word. We see this all throughout the Bible. The Bible is not the product of man, but, God. Second Timothy 3:16 says, “All Scripture is God-breathed…”. Second Peter 1:21 says, “For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.” Psalm 18:30 says “The word of the LORD is flawless”. The Scriptures esteem God’s Word highly and so too should every Church that goes by the name of Jesus Christ. It is to a church’s own peril to sideline God’s Word in its ministry.
#1: God’s Word is the Power against Temptation
First of all, God’s Word is the power against temptation. This scene takes place right before Jesus goes public. He hasn’t preached a sermon yet or done a miracle. He has just been baptized by John the Baptist and then He is led by the Holy Spirit into the wilderness for 40 days. During that time He eats no food. That is 5 weeks and 5 days He goes without food. That would be like us not having eaten anything since March 8th. Or, it would be like not eating again from today until May 26th. Matthew 4 picks up at the end of this 40 days. Jesus has been all alone. He is hungry. And the devil comes to Him and says in verse 3, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.”
Jesus is tempted by the devil. Its easy to miss the significance of this temptation. What’s the harm? He’s hungry, right? I mean, there’s nothing around to eat, and obviously He’s hungry. But here is the key: His appetite is not what determines right and wrong. People think today that just because they feel something or want or crave something they should have it. Their physical appetites govern everything they do. Philippians 3:18-19 says, “Many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach [appetite], their glory is their shame. Their mind is on earthly things.”
What is Jesus’ response to the Devil? The #10 statement on our list today, “Man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the word of God.” Jesus’ response to the Devil is the word of God. When the enemy speaks He went back to what God’s Word said. The enemy wants you to see things his way, to think like him, and to want what he wants. How can a Christian avoid that? How can a Christian avoid thinking like the Devil, seeing things his way, and wanting what he wants? The Scriptures. The power of God’s Word is in its ability to re-orient your thoughts and wants to be holy like God’s. That is why without the word of God Christians are weak and vulnerable to temptation.
Jesus’ response sheds light on the nature of this temptation. He was not going to be led by the Devil to do anything. Remember, verse 1 says that the Holy Spirit led Him into the wilderness for this trial. It was God’s will that He suffer 40 days without food. He was not going to abandon God’s will and follow the suggestion of the devil to gain even the slightest physical relief. Our Lord prayed at the end of His ministry just before suffering the cross, “Not my will Father but Yours” . And, I believe that was His attitude here at the beginning of His ministry while suffering without food. It was His Father’s will to be there and He would follow His Father’s will. Not Satan’s. In John 4:34 Jesus would say to His disciples, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me.”
This passage teaches us something about temptation. The enemy doesn’t start with big temptations. He lures you into small, seemingly unimportant sins first. His goal is to get you to listen to him rather than the Lord, to follow him rather than the Lord. His goal is to take you a mile, but, his method is to do it one inch at a time.
#2: God Speaks.
Secondly, we should see the very important point that God Speaks. Notice those first 3 words Jesus says here: “It is written”. He is referring to the Scriptures. Actually, Jesus is referencing Deuteronomy 8:3 in the OT.
Romans 15:4 says “For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.” God’s words are eternal words. They are timeless. His words do not become less relevant or less fresh by time as so many say. Jesus said later in Matthew 24:35, “Heaven and earth will pass away but My words will never pass away”.
Every Word – all Scripture God breathed and useful. Not some. Not liberal theologians who believe only some of the Bible is inspired. All of it. God doesn’t waste words. Every word is life, wisdom, power.
#3: God’s Word Gives Spiritual Life
Lastly, God’s Word gives spiritual life. “Man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.” Jesus knew that it wasn’t bread that sustained Him, it was His Father. Our tendency is to worry about the material things of life because of we don’t have our eyes on the spiritual. Jesus said “a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions” in Luke 12:15. Life is not found in your bank account, nor is it in bread. Instead it is in the bread of Life, Jesus Christ, who came down from the Father to give life.
We’re more than just physical bodies. We’re physical and we’re spiritual beings. Despite what the materialistic atheist tells you, there is more to us than just meat on sticks with some electrical zaps happening. We’re not advanced animals. We are mankind. Created specially by God and made in His image. By the word of God we were created, and, by the word of God we are given new life. We live on every word that comes from the mouth of God. His word can give us the new life we need in Christ. But, that new life is lived by constant dependency upon His word. His word is our all-sufficient supply of wisdom, power, strength, hope, and endurance as Christians.