“Begone, Satan!”

More from that Lenten sermon on the Temptation of Christ (Matthew 4:1-11).  From Rev. James Douthwaite, St. Athanasius Lutheran Church: Lent 1 Sermon:

This story of Jesus being tempted in the wilderness shows you Jesus fighting for you. And that’s more important because I could stand up here all day and tell you to fight against satan with the Word of God until I’m blue in the face and you know what? You’ll still sin. Satan will still get the better of you. You’ll still fall for and believe his lies and false goods, especially when he attacks you in your weaknesses and at the worst possible times. You know it’s true. Jesus as your example cannot save you.

But Jesus as the one who came to fight satan for you and win can. And does. We sang it earlier: But for us fights the valiant One, whom God Himself elected. Ask ye who is this? Jesus Christ it is! (LSB #656 v. 2) And so right after Jesus stands with sinners in the Jordan and is baptized for us, He is led out into the wilderness to begin the battle – the battle that will culminate at the cross. And there satan’s “if you are the Son of God” will ring in His ears yet again, coming this time from the mockers, taunting Him to come down from the cross and show that He really is who He claimed to be. That would be good . . . To show everyone that He is the Son of God . . . right?

No! Jesus didn’t come to just be the Son of God on earth, but to be your Saviour. That as Paul said in Romans, just as in Adam you have died, so in Christ you are made alive. And that’s good. And so Jesus does not come down from the cross, but joins Himself to you in your sin and death,that you be joined with Him in His resurrection and life. And so He is baptized for you and you are baptized into Him. He gets your death and you get His life. He gets your sin and you get His forgiveness. That just as by the one man’s (Adam’s) disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s (Jesus’) obedience the many will be made righteous. That the many have life. That you have life. That the many be sons of God. That you be a son of God.

That’s what’s happening in the wilderness that day – that good fight. That’s what’s happening on the cross – that good fight. And that’s what’s happening here, still today – that good fight. For in the wilderness of this world (as the Collect for the Day put it), satan is filling our ears and hearts and minds with his false goods, tempting us to believe him and not God. And again, if it were up to us, if we were on our own, that’s exactly what would happen. And we’d be lost. If it happened to Adam and Eve in Paradise and without the burden of original sin, you can be sure it would happen to you.

But that’s why this account is so valuable and so important for you. Because it shows you that it’s not up to you and you’re not on your own. Jesus is here and fighting for you. And He is still today speaking true good. And everytime you hear the words “I baptize you,” everytime you hear the words “I forgive you,” everytime you hear the words “This is My Body, this is My Blood,” you hear Jesus still saying “Be gone, satan!” Be gone from this, My child. Be gone with your lies and false goods. Be gone with your sin and death. Here is My good. Here is true good: life and forgiveness and salvation. For you, My child. For you. And so Jesus’ victory is yours. As often as satan tempts you. As often as you fall. Here is the forgiveness you need. Here is the strength you need. Here is the victory you need.

 

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.


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