This is the sermon that was preached at the Saturday Divine Service at the BJS 2013 5th Annual Conference at Bethany Lutheran Church in Naperville, IL.
In Jesus’ Name. AMEN!
Beloved in the Lord,
The glory of “now”, that’s what Satan offers. The power of “now”, that’s how the Devil tempts. Led by the Spirit, Jesus has been in the wilderness for forty days. He’s hungry. When a man is hungry he wants to eat . . . now. “Turn these stones into bread . . . if you are the Son of God.” The Devil tempts Jesus with satisfaction . . . now. Every temptation in our text is all about the glory and power of now. Eat . . . now. Have glory over all the earth . . . now. Show your true Sonship . . . now! The Devil tempts with the glory and power of now – all without any suffering.
Such tempting has worked in the past. God said to Adam, “the day that you eat of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil you will die.” The Devil said, “you will not die God knows that when you eat you will be able to know good and evil . . . now.” And Eve seeing that it was good for food, pleasant to the eyes and desirable to make one wise . . . took and ate and then gave some to her husband who took and ate. In the blink of an eye, with the grasping of what wasn’t given and the eating of forbidden fruit, humanity failed. Humanity fell for all fell in Adam’s fall.
Israel, when wandering the wilderness for 40 years grumbled against Moses and the LORD. Let us go back to Egypt where there is meat, and onions and leeks. All we have here is this manna. Israel was hungry and in their day of tempting sought to go back to slavery in Egypt rather than wait upon the LORD. Israel failed. Israel fell for all fell in Adam’s fall.
King David, gazing upon a bathing beauty opposite the Kingly palace called Bathsheba to himself. Uriah’s wife became David’s for a night. David not only committed adultery but also murder while trying to cover his shame. King David wanted a woman . . .now. He got her. David failed. David fell. And the son of David died for in Adam’s sin all sinned and death came to all because all sinned.
The Devil offers Jesus the glory and power of Now. It’s worked before. Why wouldn’t it work . . . now?
The Devil often tempts us the same way. We are Adam’s children. We bear his image and suffer his curse. His original sin is revealed in our actual sin. Following our heart rather than the Spirit, the desire to have things and people now . . . too often overcomes us. Look at your lives. No! Stop looking at your neighbor’s. Look at your own! Look how often you fail, you fall, you sin. Look at all who stand against you, the devil, the world and even your own sinful self. You want things now. The world says you deserve it now. And the Devil promises it now.
You want food now . . .go ahead and eat. Thus we’ve become a gluttonous society.
If you want sex now . . . go head and take it – marriage, family, babies these all get in the way of sex now. Follow your heart. Do what you want, consequences be damned, . . .or damning.
If you want revenge now . . . go ahead and do it. Don’t turn the other cheek. Don’t forgive. Don’t show mercy. And so love grows cold.
If you want glory now . . . go ahead and buy it. Let your heart give in to greed. Greed is good. Greed gets you what you want when you want it.
If you want children now . . . don’t wait for marriage, don’t wait on God. Doctors will implant you or your girlfriend in vitro . . . you may even get two, three, or four at once and you only have to keep one – if you want.
If you want to feel God’s presence. . . sing these shallow words put to smalzy music, seven times in a row and let your heart go wherever the . . . “spirit” leads you.
You see beloved, the devil and his spirits always offer the glory and power of now, the hope of now, . . . okay well, the maybe of now. Whatever it is you want, if you want it now, the devil promises it now . . .and if you take it now, take it in way other than how the LORD has chosen to give it or not give it to you . . . then you fail, you fall, you sin . . . now – just like Adam, Israel, and David.
Adam, Israel, David, all failed, all fell, all gave in to temptation and sinned. So do you. So do I, because that’s what sin is . . . the taking now what is not yet given. It’s believing equality with God something to be grasped and being arrogant enough to try and take it.
Where all failed, fell into temptation and sinned, Jesus does not. He does not take the path of now, but He trusts His Father. He doesn’t turn stones into bread when He’s hungry. Man doesn’t live by bread alone but by every Word that proceeds from the mouth of God. He doesn’t want glory apart from suffering. “You shall worship the LORD your God and Him alone shall you serve.” He doesn’t want to reveal His sonship apart from the cross. “You shall not tempt the Lord your God.” Jesus doesn’t fall for the path of Now. He is faithful where Adam failed. He is loyal where Israel fell. He is chaste where even David sinned. He is what king, nation, and forefather were not – Holy and righteous.
Therefore, Jesus is not a bread king. He is not a glory King. He is not a King without a cross. Jesus has come to redeem you, to take your place and fulfill the law in your stead. He is doing right what you have woefully done wrong. Thus with Jesus everything is corrected, set aright, restored, redeemed and reborn. His path is the path of patient, enduring, suffering. Before glory comes suffering. This is the way of the King and this is the Way of the Kingdom. Jesus will not be tempted otherwise. He will not go any other way. He will be forever and always faithful . . . to His Father and to you whom He loves.
Thus, in faithfulness He rebukes Satan, not with might and power, nor with angels and archangels. But He rebukes Satan with the Word of God. “One little Word can fell Him” sings Luther and his heritage. Indeed, one little Word, one little Logos of God topples him! For in the beginning the Word became flesh and dwelt among us. He walked the holy way, the way of suffering, the way of the cross. It is there in the wilderness and there on the cross that He earns for us glory. On the Cross He wins all authority in heaven and on earth. On the Cross he proves Himself the Son of God. Jesus takes your sins, your desires, your wants for the here and now, and puts them to death in His death. He takes your infidelities, He takes your adulteries, He takes your gluttonies, your pride, your greed, your anger and wrath, your failures, your fallenness, all your sins. He takes them and He bleeds over them. He takes them and He deals them a deadly blow. He does with your sin and death, what neither you nor the devil can do, copy or mimic. He takes your sin in His hands and nails it to the cross. He crushes it with pierced feet. He crowns it with sweaty blood. He marks it with the stripes on His back. He kills it dead, as dead as He Himself dies! For Jesus did not consider equality with God was something to be grasped but humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even death on a cross.”
Dead and buried, Jesus rises out of the grave on the third day. He does what Satan cannot imagine. He fulfills what we could only hope for. He rises. And rising from the dead He presents Himself as conqueror of all our enemies. Indeed, beloved, “One little Word can fell Him.” One little Christ, one little Cross, one little death of a seemingly insignificant carpenter on a hill far away and long ago has destroyed the power of sin, the torment of the grave, and the work and words of the devil, himself.
Thus, we Christians, in our baptism renounce the devil, and all his works, and all his ways. We renounce his temptings. We renounce the impulse of now and by grace through faith cling to the little Word that brings us forgiveness. Baptized in the death and resurrection of Jesus all your sins are washed away, not just then, not just now, but forevermore. By the Spirit’s power and through the working of His Word we endure now even while we wait for God’s blessings at His time and choosing. Wanting sex, we wait for marriage. Wanting children we wait for God to grant conception or the opportunity to adopt. Wanting vengeance we turn the other cheek and forgive 70 times 7 times granting God the day of vengeance. Whatever it is we want, we are exhorted to be content with what the LORD has given us . . . even if it hurts, even if it inconveniences us, even if it’s uncomfortable now. We have now what we need now. And what we do have now is good for us now.
And when we fail, when we fall, when we grumble and complain because we don’t have now what we want now . . . we are called to repent now and believe the gospel now. For Christ is offering forgiveness now, today.
Beloved in the LORD, whoever hungers and thirsts let him come unto Jesus. Whoever is weary let Him come unto Jesus. Whoever is heavy laden, let him come unto Jesus. Whoever wants now, let him come unto Jesus. Now, Jesus offers food, rest, and peace. Take, eat. Take, drink, the body and Blood of Jesus for you. No shallow words here not with Jesus. No smalzy melody to steal away your heart . . . not now. Here is God . . . now . . . for you. Come and have your fill of Him now, today, and forevermore. AMEN!
The peace of God which surpasses all understanding keep your heart and mind through faith in Christ Jesus. AMEN!