The Second Sunday of the Great and Holy Fast: On the Mountain of Temptation (Matins: Luke 4:1-13)
And the devil said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread.” But Jesus answered him, saying, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God’” (Luke 4:3-4).
On the First Temptation
Then the devil draws near to tempt Him; expecting that the feeling of hunger would aid him in his innate wickedness; for oftentimes he prevails over us by taking our infirmities to aid his plots and enterprises. He thought that He would readily jump at the wish of seeing bread ready for His use; and therefore he said, If Thou be the Son of God, bid this stone become bread. He approaches Him, therefore, as an ordinary man, and as one of the saints; yet he had a suspicion, that possibly He might be the Christ. In what way then did he wish to learn this? He considered, that to change the nature of any thing into that which it was not, would be the act and deed of a divine power; for it is God Who makes these things and transforms them; therefore, says he, if this be done, certainly He it is Who is looked for as the subverter of my power; but if He refuses to work this change, I have to do with a man, and cast away my fear, and am delivered from my danger.
Therefore it was Christ [Who], knowing the monster’s artifice, neither made the change, nor said that He was either unable or unwilling to make it, but rather shakes him off as importunate and officious, saying that man shall not live by bread alone; by which He means, that if God grant a man the power, he can subsist without eating, and live as Moses and Elijah, who by the Word of the Lord passed forty days without taking food. If, therefore, it is possible to live without bread, why I should make the stone bread? But He purposely does not say, I cannot, that He may not deny His own power; nor does He say, I can, lest the other, knowing that He is God, to Whom alone such things are possible, should depart from Him.
And observe, I pray, how the nature of man in Christ casts off the faults of Adam’s gluttony; by eating we were conquered in Adam, by abstinence we conquered in Christ.
+ Saint Cyril of Alexandria (375 – 444 A.D.), Commentary on the Gospel of Saint Luke