Thursday, March 13, 2014

Sermon for 3/9/14--Lent I



Into the Wilderness

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  Amen.

In this world, the life of the baptized is one of constant trials and temptations: spiritual warfare against the devil, the world, and our own sinful flesh. The deadliest temptation with which you are faced is the temptation to put your faith in some other lord than the One True Lord; to fear, love and trust in some other god than the One True God; to worship with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength someone beside the Triune God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Left to yourself, you would never be able to cope with or survive all that is set against you. You would feed yourself with a constant diet of the cotton candy of the world rather than the Bread of Life. You would seek the authority of the kingdoms of this world instead of seeking and serving the Kingdom of God and of His righteousness. You would seek worldly fame and glory, kneeling to worship at the pagan altars of popularity, success, pleasure, comfort, and entertainment, instead of calling upon the name of your heavenly Father.

Like your first parents in Eden, you would seek your own pleasure in the forbidden rather than rejoice and find satisfaction in the blessings the Father gladly and richly provides. That means the baptized life is also a time of daily repentance, a daily return to the waters of Holy Baptism, where that Old Adam within you with all its evil desires is drowned and dies. And yes, it must be a daily return to those waters. Every breath you take, every thought, word, and deed, is tainted with the sin which dwells in you from the moment you are conceived. Repent every day of your idolatry. Repent every day of your lust and greed and envy. Repent every day of putting your fear, love, and trust in someone other than the One who deserves it.

Knowing the weakness of sinful flesh, our Lord Jesus Christ has entered the fray as your Champion. He has made Himself the Enemy of your satanic foe. That is where we find our Lord this morning. He has been baptized in the Jordan. The Father has declared His pleasure in His Son, and the Holy Spirit has rested upon Him. Filled with that Spirit, Jesus went into the wilderness to fast and pray. The devil subjected Him to every temptation, even as you are beset by temptation on every side. But Jesus does not give in to temptation. He is faithful, obedient to the Law, obedient to will of the Father. He alone has hungered for God and thirsted for righteousness. He alone has lived according to every Word that proceeds from the mouth of God. He alone has put the will of the Father above His own desires, even unto death. All the temptations the devil sets before you, the Son of God takes as His own; He overcomes them. And then He gives that righteousness to you in those baptismal waters. He gives Himself to you completely. He overcomes the devil. He conquers the world. He bears the blood debt which your sinful flesh has built up, paying that price with His blood and death. He is your Champion, your Righteousness, your Life, your Lord and Savior.

From the moment of your Baptism, you have entered that wilderness, a war zone of trial and temptation. Satan has you in his crosshairs. The world seeks to crush you beneath the weight of its cares and enticements. Your traitorous flesh tells you give in to these enemies. But you do not enter this fray alone. The Holy Spirit, who came to rest upon you in Baptism, sustains you for the fight. And your Champion, your Lord Jesus Christ, stands before you to absorb everything Satan hurls at you. The Lord is steadfast and sure. He is your Rock of refuge, your Shield and Buckler. His Word is your mighty sword to fight for you. You will not surrender, and Satan cannot overcome you. The Kingdom ours remaineth. In the name of the Father and of the Son (+) and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.        

The peace of God which passes all understanding will keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus always.  Amen.

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