Lent 1 - Series C
10 March 2019
O Lord Jesus Christ, You lead Your ancient people through the wilderness and brought them to the Promised Land. Guide the people of Your church that following our Savior we might walk through the wilderness of this world toward the world that is to come; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, world without end.
To live in this world means that you will encounter temptation. Where do you turn? When confronted with temptation? Sheer will power will not do. Paul warns us, “Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall.” (1 Corinthians 10:12) Wise King Solomon would advise us, “Too much pride will destroy you.” (Probers 16:18)
Lean not on your own understanding. Instead, look to Jesus, “who was tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin.” (Hebrews 4:15) Here is the power of the Gospel. It is found in the person and work of Jesus. This victory of our Lord over Satan is His victory for you.
1. There are three temptations
A. The first is to doubt the goodness of God.
1. Temptation comes to Jesus in His hunger after His 40-day fast. Satan hit Jesus with this temptation at the precise moment that Jesus was hungry. He always works like that. He hits you when you’re down. He bides his time. Until you are vulnerable. Then he moves in with his subtle suggestion of evil.
2. Temptation comes to us in periods of testing – pain, family problems, bereavement: He wants you to question, “Why isn’t God doing something about this?”
B. The second is a temptation to the glitter of the world. He shows Jesus all the kingdoms of the world in a single moment of time. He claims, “It has been handed over to me, and I give it to whomever I wish.” All he asks is that Jesus bow in worship before him.
1. For Jesus, there is a price, “Worship me, [and] it shall be yours” (v.7) Jesus answers, that God alone is to be worshiped and served. Yet Satan mixes up the truth of his powerful authority with the error of worshiping him.
2. God alone sets up kings and grants authority to whomever He wills (Daniel 4:17, 25). Satan’s authority is at best delegated and temporary.
3. There is a price also for us –sacrifice of principle, eyes taken from eternal truth. Be on your guard. Satan’s offer, like all his offers, is a mix of truth and error. Jesus calls Satan “the ruler of this world” (John 12:31; 14:30; 16:11). Paul calls him “the god of this world” (2 Corinthians 4:4).
C. The third temptation, he urges presumptuous behavior, tempting God. Satan tries to get Jesus to meet legitimate needs or goals in illegitimate ways.
1. Satan asks Jesus to jump from the temple. Trusting God to spare Him from injury sounds like a great display of faith. Actually, it would have been presumption - forcing the Father’s hand.
2. Satan says to you: “There is no danger. Skip the medicine; join the crowd, you don’t need church every Sunday. Do as you please. You’re a child of God!”
2. They are sly temptations
A. The devil tries to use what God intended as blessing for evil.
1. In Jesus’ case, it was fasting. Something that can be a great blessing. Satan’s goal in all three temptations was to get Jesus to act independently of the Father rather than to submit to the will of God, which included the cross.
2. In your case, the birth of a baby, a promotion, a new home may be all we need to keep us from Christ and His Word. He’ll keep us busy. He’ll cause us to become distracted. He’ll direct your focus to periphery matters. He’ll do anything in His power to take your focus away from Christ, the cross, and His Word.
B. The devil lives up to his reputation as the father of lies.
1. He acts as though it is in his power to give power. It would have been a tempting shortcut to gain the glory of ruling all the kingdoms of this world without the agony of the cross. Yet, the Scriptures are clear “anything we do apart from faith is sin.” (Romans 14:23).
2. He lies to us about the gravity of sin – before: “it is nothing”; after: “it is unforgivable.” He’ll ask, “Why deprive yourself? Life is short. This may be your only opportunity.” Yet He doesn’t mention the risks or the consequences of sin.
C. Satan quotes Scripture.
1. See how he twists Psalm 91 when speaking to Jesus. He’ll quote Scripture. But not in its context. Remember, any text, without a context becomes a pretext.
2. He may say to you: “There is no hell. Doesn’t the Bible say, ‘God is love”?
3. All these temptations failed
A. This is for your comfort.
1. We have often lost battles with the devil. We have succumbed. He laughs at our good resolutions. He ridicules our pledges and promises - to believe stronger, to pray harder, to behave better.
2. Jesus overcomes the devil for you. St. Paul would remind us, “Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men. For as by the one man's disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man's obedience the many will be made righteous.” (Romans 5:18-19)
B. This is for your instruction.
1. Jesus uses Scripture to overcome Satan. It was His only tool. Could you do better?
2. You can, in His power, do the same. Constant vigilance is required. Prayer? Yes! Meditation? Yes! But above all, - the Word!
“And when the devil had ended every temptation, he departed from Him until another opportune time” (Luke 4:12) Jesus stood against all the devil could muster and won the victory. Look to Jesus who conquered who stood victorious against every test and temptation.
Passive Sentences –2%
Reading Level –5.1
Schnorr Von Carolsfeld woodcuts, ‘Satan tempts Jesus’© WELS permission granted for personal and congregational use
Collect for Lent 1 Lutheran Service Book ©2006 Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis