Recently it was discovered that the head of a national broadcaster lied on his application form. He claimed he had qualifications which he didn’t have. It was a simple lie on a simple form. This lie meant a short cut to a great job, with lots of money and influence. He took the short cut and enjoyed the benefits until things were discovered. Then he had to pay the price.
Jesus’ third temptation (Matt 4:8-10) was about taking a short cut. Satan takes Jesus to the top of the world where he could see all the glory of the world. He then offers it to Jesus. ‘It can all be yours’, Satan tells him. ‘You just need to take a little short cut’.
In some ways Satan is a little deluded. There is often truth mixed with delusion in a good temptation. (I can get away with this little lie on my application form!) Satan doesn’t really own it all. He has some authority over it. But ultimately it belongs to God.
The way for Jesus to achieve his goal was through emotion and physical pain and suffering. He was rejected and left alone in his hour of greatest need. He was physically beaten and finally put upon a cross. The devil offered him a short cut, a way to get everything without going through all that pain and suffering.
However Jesus wasn’t about ‘having’ everything. His task was to show God’s ultimate love and to pay the price so people could have a way to a relationship with this loving God. And that way was following Jesus. The way he got focussed in the midst of temptation was to hold to the truth of his task and the truth about God.
It makes me wonder what short cuts I take. What lies do I tell to take short cuts? Or do I try and take short cuts in the way back to God? The way is to take up my cross, like Jesus, and follow him. Sometimes it seems every day there are temptations to short cut taking up that cross. How willing am I to say no? How willing am I to be committed to the truth?