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“After all, I’ve got to live.”

Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And after fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. And the tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.” But he answered, “....        Matthew 4: 1-4


Oysters. From well before 2000 BC Jersey residents loved oysters. How do we know? Well, when in 1924 AD the Société Jersiase excavated deep into the huge mound at La Hougue Bie it found, deep inside the prehistoric tomb buried for at least 4,000 years, empty oyster shells.


The oysters had almost certainly come from Gorey where there was a productive oyster bed. In fact, this oyster bed was still being fished in the early nineteenth century AD. Records show that oysters were so cheap in Jersey in 1834 that they were served free with hotel meals in the Island.


But a problem had arisen just a few years before that........ Local fishermen had been sole users of the Gorey bed for centuries. But the Islanders actively began to promote the industry in order to sell more oysters. (After all, I’ve got to live.”) Inevitably this drew the attention of other fishermen to the oyster bed........ Boats arrived from Sittingbourne, Colchester, Portsmouth, Shoreham, Southampton and elsewhere.....  


No doubt all these non-Jersey fishermen were also saying, “After all, I’ve got to live.” But they carried it further. Around 1828 they decided that the oyster beds off Chausey – French territory, enemy territory – could also be fished. “After all, I’ve got to live.”


The States of Jersey played its part. (After all, we’ve all got to live.”) Gorey harbour was way too small to shelter all these oyster boats – so Rozel harbour was built in 1829. Cottages were built for the increased population. To help the industry the States laid down new oyster beds in Grouville. They would need time to mature to a sustainable level. But that was too long to wait so, in 1828, 120 fishing boats raided the Grouville beds.... “After all, I’ve got to live.”


There was something inevitable about all this. It was a disaster. Not only did the 4,000 year old Gorey oyster bed cease to exist but the huge beds at Chausey passed into oblivion.......            


Was this an exceptional incident in an otherwise sustainable world?


Jesus, right at the very beginning of his life-in-the-public-eye, was put to the test. The one who “tempted” Jesus (see bold above) was the “devil” (Greek “diabolou” – “the one who over turns”). Jesus was “tempted by the over turner”. His test was whether he would, in his extreme condition, overthrow the goodness of God. Would he, like all humankind, say to himself “After all, I’ve got to live” – and act accordingly. Would he adjust what God had provided – stones – and make loaves of bread - to serve his own needs? Will he do all he can to get oysters?


Well, no. In fact Jesus remained hungry and gave the accusing this simple reply: It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’ ”


That has to be correct. It was Almighty God, Jesus’ Father, who created the oyster bed at Gorey so much enjoyed 4,000 years ago. Almighty God sustained it from before BC 2000.  


God’s word created it and sustained it. Man’s word destroyed it:  “After all, I’ve got to live.”


Are those same words today destroying God’s world? Are those same words today destroying Jersey’s latest sources of wealth?


Folk keep thinking that they can live without God’s word. Everything in all our long history – and in today’s warring world - points to unsustainability without Him.


A contemporary of Jesus – John the gospel writer – wrote that Jesus was the “word” of Almighty God. He wrote also, “we have seen his glory.” John saw the cross which Jesus endured so that others could live. 

‘There can be intemperance in work just as in drink.' (C S Lewis, Author of The Chronicles of Narnia, 1898-1963)
‘Touched with a sympathy within,/ He knows our feeble frame;/ He knows what sore temptations mean,/ For He has felt the same.' (Isaac Watts, Hymn writer, 1674-1748)
Richard Syvret

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