I’m gonna be rich! I’ve just clicked on a Facebook advert on how to become a millionaire in 3 months. Small ‘investment’ then they teach you how to grow your money exponentially. You can’t fail; they had lots of success stories to prove it.
But do I believe it? No. There are lots of shortcuts in life – lying, cheating, stealing, conning, and even some legal loopholes, but for each ‘gain’ there are pretty much always lots of losers.
Jesus was offered a shortcut for his work on earth. Man had been put in charge of planet earth right at the beginning (Genesis 1:28), but handed over control to Satan when he fell into the trap of eating the forbidden fruit. So when Satan showed Jesus the splendour of all the kingdoms of the earth (Matthew 4:8-11) he had authority to do so. It was legally his, and he was offering Jesus a shortcut to taking back dominion. So easy…no years of ministering to stubborn foolish people, and no crucifixion, no battle with the enemy. All done in one bow, one quick act of submission.
Jesus must have known all along the hard, hard path he needed to walk to come down to earth and demonstrate God’s Kingdom to people, then the agonising route of the cross, where he would battle with Satan, paying the terrible price for the redemption of the world.
But he also knew that this ‘shortcut’ he was being offered would not take him to the same result. Bowing to Satan would only confirm his authority, not defeat it. He didn’t discuss the finer theological differences with Satan. He simply decreed, “Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.” And that really is the answer to all temptation. Don’t discuss it, just do the thing that worships God.
It is easy to settle for an effortless route. But quick fixes rarely accomplish the task properly. Something, if not everything, is lost. I’m so glad and thankful Jesus went on to Calvary, and completely and utterly defeated Satan. Now Jesus is Lord of all.
When I’m tempted to cut corners, help me Lord to remember that you paid the price in full for me, you went the whole, agonising way to the cross to save me. Nothing you ask of me will ever come close to what you gave for me.