no shortcuts

by Pastor Doug Engel

I envy (not in a negative sense) those who can play the guitar or keyboard, I mean really play! They seem to be naturals. In my mind’s eye I can see a guy playing lead guitar, making the song he’s singing so full and interesting, moving up and down the fret board with ease, adding little riffs with his trained fingers that repeat and stay with you long after the music ends. I want that ability!

I took piano lessons when I was 9 or 10 years old. I got through book #1 and book #2. I didn’t quite get to grade 1. I believe at that point I had the choice to continue with piano or play hockey! I’m reminded of a song written by Richard Carpenter (released in 1972) called “Piano Picker.” If you haven’t heard it before maybe it’s because it was on the B side! Here is how he begins:

“Everybody always asks me how I got to play so fine. And friends, I’m gonna tell ya, it really did take some time. Yes, after years and years of practice and a case of real bad knees, while the other guys were out playin’ with the football I was home bangin’ on the keys ... and it got me right where I am, this is me playing the piano. I hope ya like what I do.”

Many people dream of playing a guitar or keyboard like a pro but like me they just don’t have the discipline or resolve to put in the hard work. The hard work will cost you something but in the end you will look back and know that it was all worth while.

After his baptism Jesus was led out to the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. After two unsuccessful attempts the devil made his final offer. “Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. And he said to him, ‘All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me’” (Matt. 4:8-9).

We might think that this was no temptation at all for the Lord Jesus. After all, isn’t Jesus going to inherit all of it anyway? According to Revelation 11:15 a seventh angel sounds and we hear, “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he shall reign forever and ever.” But that’s not yet. At that point in time Satan does have authority and dominion over the earth. This authority was transferred from Adam to Satan in the garden of Eden because of sin. Of course, ultimately, all things belong to God; but God allows Satan to function as the god of this age (2 Corinthians 4:4) for a purpose. This is why our fallen world is in such a mess.

So yes, it was a real temptation. What was the temptation? To receive the kingdom of this world without the hard work, without the suffering, and without the cross. Jesus refused to take a short cut. That’s why we celebrate Easter and that’s why he’s worthy to receive all the praise and all the glory.