Invocabit, the First Sunday in Lent + Matthew 4:1-11 + March 5, 2017
Order of Holy Communion - Pg. 15Hymn # 262 A Mighty Fortress Is Our God
IntroitHE - SHALL - || call upon Me, and I | will | an- | swer | him; *
I will deliver him | and | hon- | or | him. -
|| With long life I will | sat- | is- | fy | him, *
And show him | My | sal- | va- | tion. - (Psalm 91:15–16)
|| He who dwells in the secret place | of | the | Most | High *
Shall abide under the shadow of | the | Al- | might- | y. -
|| I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my | for- | tress; | My | God, *
In | Him | I | will | trust.” -
|| Because you have made the Lord, who | is | my | re- | fuge, *
Even the Most High, | your | dwell- | ing | place, -
|| No evil | shall | be- | fall | you, *
Nor shall any plague come | near | your | dwell- | ing. -
|| You shall tread upon the lion | and | the | co- | bra,
The young lion and the serpent you shall tram- | ple | un- | der- | foot. - (Psalm 91:1–2, 9–10, 13)
Collect for Invocabit, the First Sunday in Lent
O Lord, mercifully hear our prayer and stretch forth the right hand of Thy majesty to defend us from them that rise up against us; through Jesus Christ, Thy Son, our Lord, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen.
Collect for the Season of Lent
Almighty and Everlasting God, our Father, Who hatest nothing that Thou hast made and dost forgive the sins of all those who are penitent, create and make in us new and contrite hearts, that we, worthily lamenting our sins and acknowledging our wretchedness, may obtain of Thee, the God of all mercy, perfect remission and forgiveness; through Jesus Christ, Thy Son, our Lord, Who liveth and reigneth with the Thee and the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen.
Grace and Peace be unto you from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.
1) When temptation comes upon you, the first thing Satan attacks is the Word that God has given you. If He can separate you from the Word, either by putting it from your mind or by twisting its meaning, then you have no defense left against the temptation and will easily fall into sin. This is how the ancient serpent subtly attacked poor Eve in the Garden. He approaches her in her primordial innocence with a simple question. “Has God indeed said, ‘You shall not eat of every tree from the garden’?” The question seems innocent enough. After all, the lowly serpent is simply asking for clarification about the Word God has given them. And that is how Eve takes it. But that simple question upends poor Eve. She replies, “We may eat the fruit of the trees of the garden; but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat of it, nor shall you touch it, lest you die.’” The original command the Lord gave Adam and Eve prohibited them from eating from the tree. But Eve subtly begins to think of God as stingy. They aren’t even to touch it. The trap is set and Satan has done it. He has taken Eve away from the Word by getting her to twist her understanding of it. Then he proceeds to further distance her from the Word of God by outright denying the truth of the Word. “You will not surely die. For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil” (Genesis 3:4-5). That did it. He first twisted the Word in Eve’s mind, then he removed it entire. “God has lied to you. He’s holding back good things from you.” Eve puts aside the Word of God and believes the Word of the devil. She looks at the tree as desirable for the first time. She eats. She passes it off the Adam. He eats. And Satan’s attack is complete. Humanity has left God’s dominion and care and has become enslaved to sin, liable to death, and now they and all their descendants will live under the Devil’s power.
2) It is only by providing another Word that God is able to save these sinners. The Lord curses the serpent, the woman, and the earth. The serpent will crawl on his belly and eat dust. The woman will have toil and pain in childbearing and the man will have the same in his vocations. But in the midst of these curses the Lord gives the Word that saves them. He says the serpent, “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel” (Genesis 3:15). There will be great enmity and strife between the woman’s seed and the Devil’s seed. The serpent’s seed will have his head crushed. He will be overcome and his power destroyed. The seed of the Woman will not get out unscathed though. His heel will be bruised in the fight. The Lord is merciful towards His creatures. They willfully transgressed God’s Word of command. They did not do it. So the Lord gave them, not a Word to do, but a Word to simply believe. Adam and Eve believed that first Gospel Word, that the Seed of Eve would destroy the Seed of the serpent, and by that faith in God’s Word they were restored to life, though the wages of sin and the curses remained upon their earthly life. As long as they clung to that Word of promise in faith they were victorious over the devil’s accusations.
3) The Promised Seed arrives in the person of Jesus. He is the Seed of the woman, and only the woman, because of His virginal conception and birth, for God is His Father from all eternity. The second person of the Holy Trinity assumes flesh in the womb of the Virgin Mary so that He might combat Satan as the second Adam. They have their first skirmish when Christ is young in the flesh. The devil incites King Herod to jealousy so that he murders the innocents of Bethlehem, hoping to destroy the newborn king of the Jews. But that’s just the prequel. The main event begins immediately after Jesus is baptized in the River Jordan. As Jesus was baptized the heavens opened, the Holy Ghost comes down upon Christ in the form of a dove, and God the Father speaks a wonderful word: “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased” (Matthew 3:17). Jesus comes up out of the water, with that Word of God in His ears. And that same Spirit then leads Him into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil, for Christ is the second Adam, who has come to do what the first Adam was unable to accomplish and destroy the work of the devil.
4) Satan does to Jesus, God in human flesh, exactly what He did to Eve and exactly what he does to each of us in the hour of temptation. He attacks the Word of God given to Jesus in the Jordan River, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” Satan attacks that Word first. “If you are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.” It is as he did to Eve. “The Lord said you were His Son, but then why do you lack food? Why is your Father driving you into the wilderness? Why is He withholding good things from you? Some Father He is, if this is how he treats his ‘Beloved Son.’ So turn these stones into bread.” But Christ does not let the devil separate Him from that Word of God given to Him in His Baptism. To turn stones into bread would be no different, externally, from multiplying loaves and fishes for the multitudes. Except to turn stones into bread now would be to believe the devil’s accusation that God was not truly Christ’s Father, and that He had to provide His own daily bread. The Lord Jesus clings not only to His baptismal word, but to the entire Word of God. “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.’” Part of being a Son of God means living by every Word of God that is written. Christ shows the devil that even in suffering and lack, hunger and great need, a Son of God trusts that what God has provided is enough and that God will provide whatever He knows, in His wisdom, to be best.
5) Rebuffed, Satan tries a different tactic. If Christ will not mistrust the Word, then perhaps He can tempt Christ into presumption. He leads him to the pinnacle the temple and tries a new way of tearing the Word from Christ. “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down. For it is written: 'He shall give His angels charge over you,' and, 'in their hands they shall bear you up, lest you dash your foot against a stone.'” Satan tries to use God’s Word against Jesus. He wants Jesus to tempt God. “Put God to the test, see if He will really take care of you as He’s prophesied in the prophets and Psalms. Since you rely upon His Word, put that Word to use.” But the devil is the master of twisting Scripture, for though the Lord promises to guard the Christ and all the saints with His holy angels, they are not to test this by putting themselves willfully in danger to prove God’s divine promises. In this temptation Satan shows how deceitful he can be. The very thing upon Christ relies, the Word, can be manipulated so that it speaks against the promises of God and leads us to doubt God’s provision and care. But Christ responds, “It is written again, 'You shall not tempt the LORD your God.'" Satan excels at pitting one Word of God against another to get us to doubt God’s Word and eventually separate ourselves from the Word as something sure and certain. We must never presume to put ourselves in harm’s way to test God’s promises to us, for if we willfully put God to the test, we have no promise that He will aid us.
6) Satan’s final attempt is the crass temptation to apostasy. He offers the kingdoms of this world to Christ if Christ only turns away from His heavenly Father and worships him instead. But Christ is not tempted with the wealth and prosperity of the world. He is not swayed by earthly glory and honor. He is not tickled by the temptation of worldly pleasures and creaturely comforts. In this way we see that Satan tempts many to abandon God entirely for the sake of the things of this world, even Christians. But Christ once again uses the Word of God and says, “"Away with you, Satan! For it is written, 'You shall worship the LORD your God, and Him only you shall serve.'” Christ accomplishes what Adam and Eve were unable to do in the Garden. Where they fell in a garden paradise, Christ overcame in a desert. Where Adam and Eve allowed themselves to be separated from the Word of God, Christ clung to the Word of God as the source of His life, even more so that food, protection, prosperity and pleasures. Satan would leave Him but only for a time, for on the cross, we would hear the voice of Satan again, “If You are the Son of God, come down from the cross” (Matthew 27:40). But He will not. For the cross is how Christ crushes the serpents head for good, breaking his power over mankind by earning the forgiveness of sins so that all who believe in Him have all that earns in that bitter suffering and death, including victory over the tempter and His many varied and manifold temptations.
7) Christ defeats the devil in the wilderness for us, so that all who are in Christ by faith have also defeated the devil. Faith is our victory over the devil in the moment of temptation. No matter what the temptation be, Christ gives us His Word to cling to it, to hold on to it, and to believe that it is true beyond all other sensations, feelings, and realities. Like Christ, you have been baptized and given divine sonship, so that “you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ” (Galatians 3:26-27). You are sons of God through holy Baptism and as an adopted son of God, all the promises of God are yours. Faith in the Word given to you in Scripture, in your baptism, in the Lord’s Supper, and in the absolution, this faith in the Word of God is the way out which God your Father provides for you in every temptation. Faith in these very same words is your fortress when you fall into sin, so that you do not succumb to the devil’s attacks to despair because of your sin, an equally terrible temptation. Remember that God is your heavenly Father through Holy Baptism, so that in every temptation of the devil, the world, and your own wicked flesh, you are a reconciled Son of the heavenly Father and have all the blessings of Christ, including victory over the evil one. Amen.