Lent 1 – Luke 4:1-13

Here are my reflections on a famous phrase and a very bad recipe for soup. I would also commend to your attention this longer (and far more erudite ) reflection by Brother James of the Anglican Dominicans, which you can find here.

Also this week, liturgy resources based on this week’s readings (see end of post) and links to other resources.

Luke 4:1-13

‘Man shall not live by bread alone.’ It’s one of those phrases which has passed in to the common idiom, along with ‘blood, sweat and tears’ and ‘dead as a doornail’. Who said them: Churchill, Dickens, Shakespeare or the Bible? It can be tricky to tell, sometimes.

The trouble with such phrases is that we say them so often they lose their meaning. ‘Take up your cross’ morphs into ‘put up with an irritation’. ‘Eye of newt and toe of frog’ becomes just another recipe for soup.

So what if we can’t live by bread alone? There are plenty of other things to eat.

But don your time-travelling seven-league boots and walk with me back to first-century Israel. Pretty much everyone is a farmer and pretty much everyone is living hand-to-mouth. What you grow, you eat. If it doesn’t grow, you don’t eat. And a heck of a lot of what you eat is bread.

Even in Britain up to a couple of hundred years ago, bread was the main part of breakfast, lunch and supper. Sometimes it was the whole meal. So the telling people that bread wasn’t the most important food would be like telling a fish that water was no big deal.

What could possibly be more important than water for a fish? What could possibly be more important than bread for a subsistence farmer?

I mean, what else would you use to mop up your newt and frog soup?

Liturgy Resources for Lent 1

Psalm 91:1-2, 9-16,  Romans 10:8b-13,  Luke 4:1-13

Confession and Absolution

It is written: ‘We do not live on bread alone’,
but we have lived for our earthly desires
and not for the bread of heaven.
Forgive us, good Lord.
Forgive us and help us.

It is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only’,
but we have worshipped and served the gods of our culture,
bowing to the idols of easy life and convenience.
Forgive us, good Lord.
Forgive us and help us.

It is written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test’,
but we have tested your mercy,
and doubted your love.
Forgive us, good Lord.
Forgive us and help us.

It is also written: ‘Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.’
And so, calling on the name of the Lord
and trusting in his saving grace,
may we know ourselves forgiven and restored,
justified and freed from condemnation,
by the same Lord who is Lord of all
and generous to all who call upon him.


Blessing and Dismissal

May God deliver you and protect you, all you who know his name.
May God answer you and be with you, all you who call upon him.
May God rescue you and honour you, all you who see his salvation.

And may the blessing of God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit –
be upon you and all those you love
this hour, this day, this week, this year.


Go in the strength of God to serve the world.


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