TEXTS: MATTHEW 4:1-11; 2 COR. 6:1-10; GEN.3:1-21
JESUS WINS IN THIS WILDERNESS FOR ALL PEOPLE!
Rev. Kenneth W. Wieting


To all at Luther Memorial Chapel and University Student Center who are loved by God and called to be saints; Grace and peace to you from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ. Dear hearers of God’s beloved Son, in whom He is well pleased:


Fresh from His baptism, the battle is joined! The water had been applied by John to Jesus. God’s Word had been spoken, “This is My beloved Son.” The Spirit had descended to anoint Him. Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. Fresh from His baptism, the battle is joined in the wilderness!


When the earth was young and pure, when Adam had the perfect image of God, man lost. “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat …You will not surely die…you will be like God, knowing good and evil’.” Satan promised to lead our first parents higher – beyond the gifts God spoke in Eden. The first Adam had no hunger but took and ate food He had not been given. In heeding the lie - he and the world came crashing down. To the woman God said - “in pain you shall bring forth children. To Adam He said - Cursed is the ground because of you; in pain you shall eat of it…and…you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”


Who can weigh the tragedy and the perversion of God’s good creation caused by the fall? Within a few sentences God reveals the fear and the naked shame and the hiding and the blame-passing and the pain in childbirth and the weary frustration in work and the death that sin caused. “It stands written” that the world is no accident. “It stands written” that death is not natural. This world is God’s creation - now disfigured by man’s fall into sin. Death is God’s curse on man’s sin. “Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned…”(Romans 5:12).

FIRST SUNDAY IN LENT – February 14, 2016
TEXTS: MATTHEW 4:1-11; 2 COR. 6:1-10GEN.3:1-21
JESUS WINS IN THIS WILDERNESS FOR ALL PEOPLE!
Rev. Kenneth W. Wieting


To all at Luther Memorial Chapel and University Student Center who are loved by God and called to be saints; Grace and peace to you from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ. Dear hearers of God’s beloved Son, in whom He is well pleased:


Fresh from His baptism, the battle is joined! The water had been applied by John to Jesus. God’s Word had been spoken, “This is My beloved Son.” The Spirit had descended to anoint Him. Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. Fresh from His baptism, the battle is joined in the wilderness!


When the earth was young and pure, when Adam had the perfect image of God, man lost. “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat …You will not surely die…you will be like God, knowing good and evil’.” Satan promised to lead our first parents higher – beyond the gifts God spoke in Eden. The first Adam had no hunger but took and ate food He had not been given. In heeding the lie - he and the world came crashing down. To the woman God said - “in pain you shall bring forth children. To Adam He said - Cursed is the ground because of you; in pain you shall eat of it…and…you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”


Who can weigh the tragedy and the perversion of God’s good creation caused by the fall? Within a few sentences God reveals the fear and the naked shame and the hiding and the blame-passing and the pain in childbirth and the weary frustration in work and the death that sin caused. “It stands written” that the world is no accident. “It stands written” that death is not natural. This world is God’s creation - now disfigured by man’s fall into sin. Death is God’s curse on man’s sin. “Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned…”(Romans 5:12).


The Sons of Adam who sinned and to whom death spread included Abraham and Isaac and Jacob - and Joseph in Egypt – and centuries later Moses through whom God brought His people out of captivity. God is my song they sang as they passed through the water on dry ground – the horse and rider he has thrown into the sea. Then God led His people into the wilderness to test them (Ex. 15:25; 16:4; 20:20). They were tested with hunger (Ex. 16:3; 24:18) and they failed the test. They also failed by testing God at Massa over water – quarreling and grumbling against Moses and asking – “Is the Lord among us or not?” (Ex. 17:1-7). Their idolatry with the golden calf and their failures in wilderness testing led to the clearest of warnings as God prepared to bring them into the Promised Land. It is the Lord your God you shall fear. Him shall you serve…You shall not go after other gods…(Deut. 6:13-14). Again – we know of their abject failure.


God’s people of Israel lived and died in this world of thorns and thistles, in the poisoned air of blame and pain as did all men. Yet there remained God’s promise of one who would come into this wilderness to crush the head of the adversary through whom rebellion and failure and death are now with us. “I will put enmity between you and the woman and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.”


Dear Christians, since ancient times the church has rejoiced on this Sunday in Lent in the bruising, grinding of the Savior’s heel on Satan’s accusing head. Thousands of years of experience were behind the devil’s words and actions in our text. With the sons of Israel – he had never lost in tempting to sin. Indeed, death spread to all men because all sinned. But, never before had Satan’s intended prey been this one newly-baptized man alone in the wilderness! Never before had the slanderer attempted to seduce the male seed of the woman promised when eyes were first opened to naked shame. Never before had the tempter approached the Second Adam, Israel reduced to One, the Son of God anointed by the Spirit as your substitute!


Fresh from His baptism, the battle is joined! The tempter approached and said “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.” With food and doubt he seduced the first Adam. With hunger and doubt he seduced Israel in the wilderness. With hunger and misdirection he seeks to seduce the second Adam, Jesus. If you are…what the Father said, why are you suffering hunger like this? Satan’s first salvo strikes at the stomach and smells like a bakery of fresh-baked bread to a starving man. Bread is a wonderful blessing. But not bread alone and not bread at any cost. The Son of Man did not come down to feed Himself. He came down to feed us the Bread of life.


Either Jesus would believe the voice of Baptism, “You are the Son of God” even in hunger or He would believe the tempter’s voice, “You are the Son of God when you prove it sensationally – when your power spares you pain”. Jesus’ answer showed which. It stands written, “Man will not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.” Unlike Israel – the man Jesus responds with total trust in God’s written word. Unlike Adam – Jesus responds with total trust in God’s spoken word.


In a flash Satan shifted his attack from the weakness of Jesus’ hunger to the strength of Jesus’ faith. His second salvo smells a little bit like incense, full of holy things. Jesus is taken to the holy city, atop the holy temple and read the Holy Scriptures. Unlike the sensual pull of bread, the tempter now invites a super-spiritual leap of faith. “You who are strong enough not to manufacture bread at my tempting, show your full trust in God.” “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down, for it stands written, ‘He will command his angels concerning you,’ and ‘On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.’”


We can sin by attempting things which God has not promised. Testing God is not the same as trusting Him. The slanderer had twisted the protective meaning of Psalm 91 omitting God’s promise “to keep you in all your ways.” Jesus said, “Again it stands written, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test” (Deut. 6:16). Trusting the Father’s word in Baptism He would not perform or put Himself in unnecessary danger


Notice how Satan’s temptations always promise to take us higher. “You will be like God, he first lied. Now he leads Jesus higher and higher - from the wilderness to the pinnacle of the temple and finally higher still to a very high mountain. Showing Jesus all the kingdoms of the world and their glory he said, “All these I will give you if you will fall down and worship me.” His offer was the world for one momentary bow from Jesus. He was, however, offering earthly kingdoms to Him who came to give you a heavenly one. He was offering Jesus the fading glory of a death-filled world to turn Him aside from His life-giving work. Jesus knew that worship is due God alone and He was not turned aside from the saving work of His vocation. “Be gone, Satan (leave adversary)! For it stands written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God and you shall serve him alone.’”


Beloved Jesus won in the wilderness for you! For as surely as you are baptized and are God’s child so surely will the adversary continue to tempt you! In weakness and loneliness and disappointment, he will whisper, “If you are a child of God than why this suffering? He may tempt you to put God to the test by making spiritual requests that God has not promised. He will tempt you to forsake your vocation for a quicker, easier path to live higher right now. Promising the high life, however, the tempter delivers only death.


As Jesus responded to Satan’s temptation saying “it stands written” so also God gives us the weapon of His Word – the Sword of the Spirit (Ephesian 6:17). God help us grow in it and use it. But you will never find the right Bible verse to do perfectly what Jesus did here. That’s not the main thought that the Holy Spirit here conveys.


The central truth is the man Jesus, fresh from His Baptism, winning the battle for you, as your substitute. Jesus passed through the water of the Jordan not on dry ground but on sinner’s ground – on your ground. It was a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. Yet, He received it to fulfill all righteousness for you! Carrying already the burden of your failures against temptation – your past failures, your present failures, your future failures, Jesus was tempted by the evil foe. But the slanderer could not seduce the promised male seed of the woman, the Second Adam.


Fresh from His baptism Jesus won in the wilderness of this life for you! He defeated Satan by standing on the written Word of God as God’s baptized and beloved Son. Never before had man won. But Jesus did! And now in Him you win also! “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). “Be gone, Satan (leave adversary)!” Jesus’ word does exactly what it says. The devil had no choice. Fresh from His baptism, Jesus won in the wilderness for you!


Oh, Satan looked for other opportune times to undo this victory which is your victory! You know the cries of the onlookers at the cross – “Let him save himself if he is the Son of God” (Matt 27:40). But Jesus won the victory over that tempting word as well. He believed the Father’s Word when He was baptized into our sin and death. He knew this was the purpose for which He came – a body fit for sacrifice. What looked like His end was really the end of Satan’ power to accuse us. For by His death, Christ destroyed Him who had the power of death, that is the devil (Heb. 2:14).


Beloved, just as surely as you are baptized you have been given the victory over Satan. For by the promise of the Father you were baptized into Jesus’ death (Rom. 6). All the head crushing of Jesus’ cross is yours! Satan can no longer accuse you! There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (Rom. 8:1). This world’s prince (that is the devil) may scowl fierce as he will. He can harm us none. He’s judged, the deed is done; one little Word can fell Him. That is the Word made flesh – risen from the grave – God’s beloved Son.


His promise to take you higher is no deception – to the place He prepares for you! It is His promise that even from the dust of death you will rise bodily in the resurrection! Even at His table today He bids you come up to a higher seat. The first Adam took and ate food He had not been given by God It brought death. The Second Adam says of heavenly food He Himself gives you – take and eat – and it brings life. For where there is forgiveness of sins, there is also life and salvation.


In the Name of Jesus, God’s beloved Son, in whom He is well pleased, Amen.

Luther Memorial Chapel & University Student Center | 3833 N Maryland Ave | Shorewood, WI  53211
(414) 332-5732 |lmcusc@lmcusc.org

Divine Service: Sundays - 9:00a Mondays - 7:00p Bible Study & Sunday School: Sundays - 10:45a