He didn’t look like a king. Who would after 40 days in the wilderness with no food? His clothes would have been dirty and torn and He probably had a worn and weathered look about Him. Despite all of that, those who were capable of looking beyond appearances would not have failed to notice something regal about Him.

Nonetheless, He’s a Jewish carpenter who has been roaming through the wilderness, drawing near to God, preparing for His ministry and nobly, oh-so-nobly, fighting off the overtures of the adversary for just short of six weeks. Now Satan takes Him to a very high mountain where the kingdoms of the world are displayed before Him. What Satan shows Him is only His due (every knee shall bow). It belongs to Him like stones belong to the wilderness. It is His by right of Who He is.

But of course, it’s not quite that simple.

To receive this, He has to bow down to Satan. He has to compromise His character by worshiping one who is only worth despising. It’s a curious demand from Satan and it shows how diametrically he is opposed to all that is good, right and true. For Christ it is a potential shortcut. It would be the fast track to glory and mean no ministry, no suffering, no rejection and no cross. There would be no more wilderness—ever!

Not all shortcuts come at the cost of compromising character. If you can find one in the wilderness or anywhere else that doesn’t, then by all means take it. There’s nothing spiritual about making something more difficult than it has to be. (Although there are some who seem particularly gifted in this area).

All shortcuts are tests. They first test our discernment as to whether they are legitimate or not. If they are not, they then test our character. Jesus is King because He always chose to pursue the right result in the right way and said “No” to sinful shortcuts.  

And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in the knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christto the glory and praise of God. (Philippians 1:9-11)

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