The Temptation of Now
February 14, 2016 — Lent I
Sermon Text — Luke 4:1-13
Come back later for the audio of this sermon.
Grace, mercy and peace be unto you from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. AMEN! Our text for this morning’s sermon is taken from St. Luke’s gospel account the fourth chapter.
Beloved in the Lord,
The power of now, that’s what Satan offers. The power of now, that’s how the Devil tempts. Driven 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 gratification . . . 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 power of now.
Such tempting has worked in the past. God said, “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. Humanity failed. Humanity fell.
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 Egypt rather than wait upon the LORD. Israel failed. Israel fell.
David, admiring a bathing beauty opposite the Kingly palace called her to himself. He took another man’s wife, committed adultery, murder and tried to cover it before men and before God. He wanted a woman . . .now. He got her. David failed. David fell. And the son of David died.
The Devil offers Jesus the 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. The desire to have now . . . too often overcomes us. Look at your lives. Look how often you fail, you fall, you sin. Old Adam wants things now and so often goes after things now. Whatever it is that you want . . . 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. Thus we’ve become a pornographic and indecent society. If you want revenge now . . . go ahead and do it. And we’ve become a violent rather than merciful society. If you want glory now . . . go ahead and buy it. Greed is the path to worldly glory. 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. If you want an experience with God . . . work yourself into a frenzie and feel His presence. If you’re lying on the hospital bed, undergoing therapy, bearing some sort of cross . . . the devil always promises to relieve your burden. He offers the power of now, the hope of now, 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.
And when the Devil doesn’t give it to you . . .because he can’t. He has no power to give. When he doesn’t give it to you now, or when you still have to suffer now, or when you bear the cross longer than you think you should, or when you don’t really get what you want . . . then your impatience and discontent is reflected in your grumbling against, not the devil, but God. You’ve been trapped twice. For not only have you trusted the ways and means of the devil to get what you want, but you’ve also cursed God for not getting it. Adam, Israel, David, all failed, all fell, all sinned. So do you. So do I, because that’s what sin is . . . the taking now what is not given yet.
Where all failed, fell, and sinned, Jesus does not. He does not take the path of now, but 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 faithful where Israel fell. He is faithful where even David sinned. He is faithful as a man, in your place, in David’s, Israel’s, and Adam’s place.
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 us, to take our place and fulfill the law in our stead. He is doing right what we have woefully done wrong. Thus with Jesus everything is corrected, set aright, restored. 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 be forever and always faithful . . . to His Father and to you.
Thus, in faithfulness He rebukes Satan, not with might and power, not with angels and archangels, not with that which you and I do not posses. 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! For in the beginning the Word became flesh and dwelt among us. He traversed the holy way, the way of suffering, the way of the cross. It is there 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. For taking our sins, our desires, our wants for the here and now, Jesus takes these and puts them to death in His death. He takes our infidelities, He takes our adulteries, He takes our gluttonies, our pride, our greed, our anger and wrath, our failures, our falleness, our sins. He takes them and He bleeds over them. He takes them and He deals with them. He does with our sin and death, what the devil cannot do, cannot copy, cannot mimic. He takes it in His hands and nails it to the cross. He tramples 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!
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 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 our 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 a husband or wife. Wanting children we wait for God to grant conception. Wanting vengeance we forgive and grant God the day of vengeance. Wanting healing we wait for the Lord’s deliverance even as we pray for grace to accept our affliction. Wanting a cure we bear the cross trusting that all things work for the good of those who love God. Whatever it is we want, we must learn to be content with what the LORD has given us . . . even if it hurts, even if it inconveniences us, even if it’s uncomfortable. We have now what we need now, what 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 offers 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. Here is God . . . now . . . for you. Come and have your fill of God, the faithful God, our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. AMEN!
The peace of God which surpasses all human understanding keep your heart and mind through faith in Christ Jesus. AMEN!