In Matthew 4, Jesus was led into the wilderness by the Holy Spirit. He had been without food for forty days when Satan came to Him and said, “If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread” (Matthew 4:3). In other words, “If You are God’s Son, must You go through hardship? You shouldn’t have to suffer and be deprived. Just command these stones to be turned into bread.”
But Jesus replied, “It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4). In other words, “I have been sent on a mission by My Father, and I am going to fulfill it. It doesn’t mean that I will always be comfortable. But I have a word from the Father that I am going to finish this journey in victory, and many are coming with Me.”
Many people in our generation have looked for an easy journey and attempted to use the power of God to turn every stone into bread—to make every hard place easy. But Jesus told His disciples, “What man is there of you, if his son asks for bread, will he give him a stone?” In other words, God will give you what you need to get you through every difficulty you face. You don’t have to figure a way out of your dilemma or try to use the power of God to make all the hard places easy.
Jesus continued, “Or if he ask for a fish, will he give him a serpent?” This is an incredible statement, for the Father sent His Son to become a fisher of my soul and of yours, and consequently to call us into His work to become fishers of men. This was the redemptive purpose of God in the earth, and it involved a cross—being rejected, enduring the ridicule and scorn of people who were opposing their own salvation. Yet the serpent had come to Jesus in the wilderness saying, “Here are all the kingdoms of the world. All You have to do is bow before me and acknowledge that God’s ways are not the only ways. Just bend Your knee and circumvent the cross—go around the hardship and I will give it all to You right now.”
Now if you ask for a fish, the Father is not going to give you a serpent. You may be asking, “Lord, I don’t want to be just a light testimony of who You are in my generation. Will You make me a fisher of men just as the early church was?” And unlike the serpents who are trying to tempt much of the church of this generation to go a different way, God is not going to come to you and say, “No, life is meant to be easy. You don’t have to suffer for the cause of Christ.” Instead, He will promise to see you through every difficulty that may arise as you walk with purpose in this generation, and He will see you through to a victorious end.
Carter Conlon joined the pastoral staff of Times Square Church in 1994 at the invitation of the founding pastor, David Wilkerson, and was appointed Senior Pastor in 2001. A strong, compassionate leader, he is a frequent speaker at the Expect Church Leadership Conferences conducted by World Challenge throughout the world.