Second Day of Lent

Matthew 4:1-11

After the 1996-2003 civil war in the Democratic Republic of Congo, it was rumoured that a road called the ‘Shortcut’ was mined. The road saved us many kilometers but we weren’t prepared to test the rumour. Later when an organization demined the road they found five mines. What if we had taken the shortcut road?  

Jesus was tempted at His most vulnerable point. He was hungry; He hadn’t eaten for 40 days! Later in Scripture, we see the miracles of Jesus changing water into wine and then feeding thousands through the multiplication of the loaves and fishes. So why not change the stones into loaves of bread?  

Satan was tempting Jesus to take a shortcut to avoid His discomfort of hunger, to take His rightful power immediately without the cross. But Jesus was called for the cross (and the resurrection). What if He had taken the shortcut?

 In responding to Satan we note that Jesus humbled Himself to God’s Word. He did not craft an argument, He simply quotes Scripture, “It is written: ‘man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” He responds similarly to the additional two temptations, as well. Jesus was not about to let His purpose be hijacked by the evil one. 

I once heard a story of a Russian pastor during the persecution under the former USSR regime. In prayer he sensed God calling him to deliver some of his excess food and supplies to another pastor and his family who were starving under the restrictions they were facing by the police. The pastor argued with God about how dangerous the trip would be; if he were caught he could be killed. God spoke clearly to him “I called you to go, I did not call you to come back!”

 Just as Jesus was called to the cross, we are called to follow Him. Each of us will be tested through temptation. Perhaps we will be tempted to give up or take a short cut. We must follow God’s calling unswervingly and leave the “come back” to Jesus. We are careful that the tempter does not deceive us into taking a shortcut; a shortcut to material needs, a short cut to power, a shortcut to unearned honour.

 Instead, let us obey God’s Word, no matter the route. “Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.1 Peter 5:6.   And then the glorious resurrection!

Sheldon Gilmer
World Hope Canada