Just now, as you heard today’s Gospel, the devil was using many things to distract you and tempt you. Some of these things were questions or thoughts or ideas that came into your mind. Some were noises or movements that caught your attention. Whatever it was, whatever he could find, the devil used it. He will continue to do this throughout the entire service, and at every Divine Service, and every time the Lord’s Word is preached and spoken and read and prayed and sung. “Pay no attention to that preacher. Forget what the Psalm says. Who cares about that Scripture reading? It’s just words. And they’re no better or worse than any other words. Besides, those words really won’t change anything. They don’t matter. They don’t make things better. It’s just words.” That’s the devil speaking.
The devil wants to distract you. He wants you to lose focus. His goal is to keep you from hearing and listening to and heeding the Lord’s holy Gospel. His goal is to snatch the Lord’s Word out of your heart; to make you question the Word of the Lord; to choke it with your worries and fears as well as your ambitions and passions. Resist him—not by yelling or glaring at someone else, and not by arguing with him. Resist him with prayer and contemplation—by making the Lord’s Word your own, saying back to the Lord what He has first said to you.
But how can you do this? How do you resist? How do you outmaneuver his temptations and block out the distractions he uses? Certainly you cannot do it by yourself, not with your own wits and will. We can never rightly put our trust in anything that we do. But the Lord is our trust. He promises to defend us against Satan and all his ways. He is our protection against all adversity, against every temptation and evil, against every tactic the devil employs to undermine our faith.
So how do we resist? Recall that the Word of God is like a seed. Within the little seed is the power to break through cement and stone, to split wood, to rise above the strongest weed. And within the seed are the branches that the birds nest in, and the food that sustains all manner of life. The seed, though small, is mighty—especially when nourished and fed by the waters of heaven and the warmth and light of the sun. The seed is the Word of God. The Lord’s Word already has within itself all that you need to resist the devil and all his works and all his ways. For this is no ordinary seed, just as it is no ordinary word.
This seed is the Lord Jesus Himself. He comes into the world, in our flesh, in our hearts, looking as insignificant and helpless as a small seed. Yet within Himself He has the power to beat back Satan and his lies and to break through our stone-cold hearts. He alone is able to be trampled down so that He might raise us up. He alone is able to break up the rocks and stones that hinder our life in God. He alone is able to suppress our fears and satisfy our desires by holding out to us, not a better life, but life as it truly is. He alone is able to give us the life we can never live apart from Him. Our heavenly Father is the farmer who sent the Seed: to be born of the Virgin, and also to be born in our flesh in Holy Baptism. That Seed within us is nourished with Christ’s own body and blood. Here, then, is our strength and power to resist the distractions and temptations of the devil. It is found not in ourselves alone, but in communion with God and all the faithful in Christ.
So what, then, if the devil continues to pester and annoy you? The Father, by the Spirit, has planted within you His life-giving Seed. And by that same Holy Spirit in the Holy Supper, He nourishes and sustains and grows that Seed within you. 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.