The Hidden Eucharistic Meaning of “Not by Bread Alone”

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It’s been forty days since Jesus’ baptism in the Jordan, and he’s been fasting in the desert. The devil, spying an opportunity, approaches him with a challenge: “If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread” (Luke 4:3).

Jesus’ response is cryptic: “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.’” (Matt. 4:4).

What is Jesus talking about?

You may be inclined to say “Nothing, He’s talking about reading the Bible.” That’s a pretty standard interpretation, particularly amongst Protestants (like R.C. Sproul).

You might even think that this passage disproves the Eucharist, because it shows He uses eating imagery when He just means belief or Bible reading (as this Baptist pastor thought).

But those answers are Biblically ignorant, since they’re ignoring the context of Jesus’ Old Testament quotation. It turns out, there’s a Eucharistic dimension to His Scriptural quotations here that almost everyone misses. Look at the passage in context. Jesus is quoting Deuteronomy 8:1-3, which says:

All the commandment which I command you this day you shall be careful to do, that you may live and multiply, and go in and possess the land which the Lord swore to give to your fathers. And you shall remember all the way which the Lord your God has led you these forty years in the wilderness, that he might humble you, testing you to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep his commandments, or not. And he humbled you and let you hunger and fed you with manna, which you did not know, nor did your fathers know; that he might make you know that man does not live by bread alone, but that man lives by everything that proceeds out of the mouth of the Lord.

So is it just a coincidence that Jesus quotes from a passage about manna? No. And here’s why.

By Joe Heschmeyer

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