The record of Jesus temptations in the wilderness speaks strongly to those of us who hear and feel His call to follow Him. The key element of the three temptations seems to be to do it the easy way. It need not be difficult. Work smarter! Negotiate! In the wilderness Satan called upon Jesus to turn the desert rocks into manna and feed himself. He need not sacrifice like he was in his fasting to achieve God’s purposes in His life. Just do it the easy way. Satan followed Jesus around with this temptation his entire life.

The Rabbis taught that when the Messiah came he would repeat the miracle of manna in the wilderness. The prophets had implied that this would be the case as well and the Rabbis new their bibles and so did many of the Jews who came to witness Jesus’ miracles. When Jesus fed the multitudes by multiplying “bread” to the vast thousands present, the Jews got so excited, you might remember, that they tried to make him King right then and there. They knew that when manna in the wilderness came, that would be the sign of the kingdom breaking in. Jesus it seems, turned on his invisibility shield, and walked away from that opportunity to bypass the cross, to short-circuit His path of obedience. He could have became King of the Jews without stooping to the role of the suffering Messiah of Isaiah 53. But he would not do it the easy way! When Peter suggested He could escape the cross as well, He replied, not to Peter, but to Satan, and said, “Get thee behind me.” He refused to do it the easy way. That seems to be the thrust of all the temptations Jesus faced. It would be easier to bargain with Satan than to face the task of true discipleship, ie, discipline, in our lives.

If you lived in Honolulu, Hawaii you could take the Pali Highway northbound. Travel about a third of the way to the Pali Pass and turn right on Park Street. Go one block and there it is, something that appeals to tempts us all: “Easy Street.” The problem comes when you turn left and go one block more. There’s another sign that says “Dead End.” Dead end—that’s what happens in life, too, whenever we think we’ve found the easy way.

I’ve always appreciated the quote that reminds us that “both rivers and men become crooked by following the path of least resistance.”

“In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” (Matthew 3:1-2)