Jesus Does Battle in Our Place
In the Garden, man exalts himself to be a god in place of God (Gen. 3:1–21). He succumbs to the temptation of the devil, and eating of the forbidden fruit, he receives death. But in the sin-cursed wilderness, God humbles Himself to become man in place of man (Matt. 4:1–11). He does not eat but fasts and bears the onslaughts of the devil for us that we may be restored to life. Jesus stands as David in our place to do battle against the Goliath, Satan (1 Sam. 17:40–51). Though outwardly Jesus appears weak, yet He comes in the name of the Lord of hosts. He draws from the five smooth stones of the books of Moses and slings the Word of God. The stone sinks into the forehead, and the enemy falls. In Christ we are victorious over the devil. Let us therefore not receive the grace of God in vain (2 Cor. 6:1–10), but seeing that we have a great High Priest, let us come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain help in time of need (Heb. 4:14–16).
Collect for the First Sunday in Lent: O Lord God, You led Your ancient people through the wilderness and brought them to the promised land. Guide the people of Your Church that following our Savior we may walk through the wilderness of this world toward the glory of the world to come; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
Collect for Ash Wednesday: Almighty and everlasting God, You despise nothing You have made and forgive the sins of all who are penitent. Create in us new and contrite hearts that lamenting our sins and acknowledging our wretchedness we may receive from You full pardon and forgiveness; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord,
Prayer for aid against temptation: O God, You justify the ungodly and desire not the death of the sinner. Graciously assist us by Your heavenly aid and evermore shield us with Your protection, that no temptation may separate us from Your love in Christ Jesus, our Lord,
Prayer in times of temptation: Almighty and everlasting God, through Your Son You have promised us forgiveness of sins and everlasting life. Govern our hearts by Your Holy Spirit that in our daily need, and especially in all time of temptation, we may seek Your help and, by a true and lively faith in Your Word, obtain all that You have promised; through the same Jesus Christ, our Lord,
Prayer for those afflicted by the devil: Almighty God, You justify the ungodly and desire not the death of the sinner. We humbly ask You to assist [name] by Your heavenly aid and to shield [him/her] always from the evil foe. Grant that [he/she] may not be separated from You by any temptation but, trusting in Your mercy, may serve You without ceasing; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord,
Monday, 11 February 2013—Psalm 91:1–2, 9–10, 13; antiphon: Psalm 91:15a, c, 16—The Sundays in Lent take their names from the first word of the Introit: Invocavit means he shall call. As the intensely penitential season of Lent begins, the Introit expresses confidence in the Lord that, when we call upon His name, He will answer us, He will show us His salvation. The last couple of verse of the Introit look forward to eternal life, when Christ our Lord returns in judgment and the disastrous effects of the Fall (recorded in the Old Testament reading) are reversed, and we will have no fear of anything, not even the things that are so terrifying in this life, such as the lion and the cobra.
Tuesday, 12 February 2013—Genesis 3:1–21—The reason why the Son of God had to assume flesh and suffer and die at the hands of sinful men is recounted in the Old Testament reading, where we learn of the Fall into sin by our first parents, Adam and Eve. The Fall has had disastrous consequences, regarding both our life here on earth, as well as our relationship with our Creator. Eve desired to be like God. When we sin, that is, show disregard and even contempt for the holy Law of God, we show that we are tainted with the same sin: we desire to be a law unto ourselves, we desire to be our own gods.
Wednesday, 13 February 2013—Psalm 32—This is one of the penitential psalms, a psalm of David. But, far from sounding a note of despair, this psalm revels in the happiness which comes from having received the forgiveness of all sins. David claims nor credit, no merit, no worthiness; rather, the forgiveness is a result of God’s grace and loving-kindness. If heavy guilt brings with it the agony of mind and body that are described in verses 3–4, then the relief that forgiveness brings can also be ours when we repent and rejoice in the remission of sins through Our Savior Jesus Christ.
Thursday, 14 February 2013—2 Corinthians 6:1–10—Is it possible to receive the grace of God in vain, such that it is wasted on us? Unfortunately, yes; just recall the parable of the sower and the seed from a couple of weeks ago. Paul’s concern is that some in the Corinthian congregation may be in danger of this very thing. Thus he urges them to remember the words of Isaiah (49:8): At a favorable time I have heard you; on the day of salvation I have helped you. Paul applies the prophecy to his day: Now is the favorable time! Now is the day of salvation! Don’t lose it! Don’t receive God’s grace in vain! Receive it and keep on clinging to it in faith.
Friday, 15 February 2013—Matthew 4:1–11—After His Baptism, our Lord was led by the Holy Spirit into the wilderness, where He was tempted by the devil. When Adam and Eve were tempted by the cunning of the devil, they caved in and sinned. When Jesus was tempted, however, He did what we are unable to do: He withstood the devil’s wiles. He countered the devil with the Word of God, our best weapon in time of temptation. The writer to the Hebrews reminds us: We do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. (Hebrews 4:15–16)
Saturday, 16 February 2013—Sunday’s hymn of the day is Martin Luther’s A Mighty Fortress Is Our God (LSB #656). It is a comfort to us in times of temptation to remember the words of this great hymn: This world’s prince may still / scowl fierce as he will. / He can harm us none; / he’s judged, the deed is done from stanza 3, and from stanza 4, that our victory has been won; / the kingdom ours remaineth.
Prayers from Lutheran Service Book © 2006 Concordia Publishing House
Lectionary summary on first page from LCMS Commission on Worship
The Revd Jeffrey M. Keuning, Pastor of St John's Evangelical Lutheran Church Casey, Iowa and Zion Lutheran Church Dexter, Iowa