First Sunday in Lent 2018

February 18, 2018

Bible Text: Matthew 4:1-11 |

Series:

Beware, Christians! The devil, the ancient accuser who so easily led our first parents into death, has been honing his craft for a very long time. Repent. You are no match for him. Return to the Lord. Too often the devil’s lies have found upon us willing ears and wayward hearts. Repent. Now is the Day of Salvation. Tomorrow may be too late.

Repent, but do not be afraid, for there is an escape by the grace of God. Our Lord Jesus, born of Mary, your Brother, is like you…but not like you. He obeyed. He did not fall. He did not succumb to temptation. He overcame the Tempter—and not merely in the desert, but in the city, in the back-water Galilean villages, at the sinners’ tables, in the synagogue, in the Temple. Then, at last, He faced that old serpent in the fiercest showdown of all time on a hill just outside of Jerusalem called the Place of the Skull.

And there it seemed as though the whole thing had been for nought! Surely Christ led a blameless life and never sinned, but there on the cross, with brutal force and undisguised glee, in malicious violence, Satan through his evil agents drove the nails into the hands and feet of Immanuel and put Him to death! It seemed as though Satan had won. It seemed as though the victory in the desert did not last. It still seems that way today, when sinners perpetrate great evil—things like mass shootings in schools and public places; things like abortions performed in numbers far exceeding the number of people murdered in the holocaust; things like the normalizing of immorality in the name of “love.” The devil and his demons work hard at making evil seem like good, making fiction seem like reality.

But the Truth is this: in that dark hour of God’s death, the ransom was paid! Heaven was opened! The Son of Man was glorified and crowned as our King. He rose the Victor. And after parading through Hell to show Satan that Christ had won, the Lord appeared to His people. He ate with them. He taught them. He blessed them. He forgave them. He gave them His Victory, for He had won it for them. He had won it for you.

And so it is, that even as Our Lord battled the devil in the desert; battled him across the Promised Land; battled him through death and into Hell that those prison bars which held us in were broken down; so still, He wages this holy war for us and in us. And still the battle is fought, as it always has been, with the Word of God.

Temptation is always enticement to break God’s Word, to go against it. God gives commandments. The devil calls God a harsh taskmaster who doesn’t really care; who, if He really loved His children, would let them do as they pleased. This is the way he attacked Eve in the garden. It is the way he attacked Our Lord in the desert. It is the way he attacks us here and now. Eve could not bear the assault. Adam failed to protect her. They gave in and became children of Satan, and you are the spawn of their loins. But the Second Adam, the perfect Adam, suffered these temptations also. And He did not fail. He overcame. He lived the perfect life of faith. And with nothing more than the Word, He drove the devil back.

He did not need to do this for Himself. He did it for you. He removes the sting of death and the victory of the grave. The roaring lion who once terrified you now has no bite. He cannot have you. He cannot harm you. For you have a Master, a King, a Benefactor, a Protector. You bear the Name He placed upon you in Baptism. You belong to Him, not just because He made you, but also because He bought you.

So be forewarned. Be prepared for warfare. Make yourself ready by eating and drinking the medicine of immortality, the body and blood which He has given and shed for you. Open your ears. Hear the Word of God. Pray that He would strengthen and sustain you in the days to come. Pray, lest you fall into temptation. Pray the prayer He taught you. And pray as the early Church so fervently prayed: “Come, Lord Jesus. Come quickly!” In the name of the Father and of the Son (+) and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

 

The peace of God which passes all understanding will keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus always.  Amen.

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