One Year Series: Matt. 4:1-11    Gen. 3:1-21    2 Cor. 6:1-10
Vicar Paul Rockrohr

In the Name of Jesus. Amen.


“Did God really say…?” It is a question that every Christian knows. “Did God really say…?” Whether or not one recalls the first place in history that it appears, it is one that is asked all the time. “Did God really say…?” This question is very rarely an honest one, for it is one of the favorite questions of Satan and those of his kingdom. It tries to demand doubt from those that have heard God speak, to make a liar out of Him who is the Truth. From the very beginning Satan has been asking, poking, prodding, always trying to cause us to doubt God, to separate us from Him. This Adversary of our life sought to destroy life from the moment that God saw that it was good. Thus in the form of a serpent he approached Eve and asks, “did God really say you could not eat from any tree in the garden?”


See how the father of lies reveals himself, purposefully misquoting God so as to provoke a reaction. After all, every tree had been given to them to eat from except the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. They were in a garden that God Himself had planted, with every tree that is pleasant to see and good for food, all of it a gift for them, except that one tree. Yet in the middle of Paradise they listen to this Tempter. “Come now you two, so you think that God is so good because He has given you all this? He’s holding out on you! He can’t be that good if He keeps the best things from you! Did He really say you would die? You will not surely die, just try one bite and become like God!” One question was all it took; how quickly Adam and Eve fled the goodness and mercy of God for an idol!

One Year Series: Matt. 4:1-11    Gen. 3:1-21    2 Cor. 6:1-10
Vicar Paul Rockrohr

In the Name of Jesus. Amen.


“Did God really say…?” It is a question that every Christian knows. “Did God really say…?” Whether or not one recalls the first place in history that it appears, it is one that is asked all the time. “Did God really say…?” This question is very rarely an honest one, for it is one of the favorite questions of Satan and those of his kingdom. It tries to demand doubt from those that have heard God speak, to make a liar out of Him who is the Truth. From the very beginning Satan has been asking, poking, prodding, always trying to cause us to doubt God, to separate us from Him. This Adversary of our life sought to destroy life from the moment that God saw that it was good. Thus in the form of a serpent he approached Eve and asks, “did God really say you could not eat from any tree in the garden?”


See how the father of lies reveals himself, purposefully misquoting God so as to provoke a reaction. After all, every tree had been given to them to eat from except the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. They were in a garden that God Himself had planted, with every tree that is pleasant to see and good for food, all of it a gift for them, except that one tree. Yet in the middle of Paradise they listen to this Tempter. “Come now you two, so you think that God is so good because He has given you all this? He’s holding out on you! He can’t be that good if He keeps the best things from you! Did He really say you would die? You will not surely die, just try one bite and become like God!” One question was all it took; how quickly Adam and Eve fled the goodness and mercy of God for an idol!

It is truly astounding if we think about it, just how self-centered we really are. Just like our parents, we see all that God has given us out of His fatherly divine mercy and decide that He is holding out. A little whisper asks “did God really say…” and we are ready run out after whatever looks pleasing to the eye. Adam and Eve desired knowledge of Good and Evil, certain that wisdom apart from God would put them in an advantageous position. The quest for knowledge hasn’t ceased, nor the desire to replace God with our own knowledge. With every advance we hope to avoid death, or at least forestall it. To be sure, true science and technology are wonderful fields that bring about many God-pleasing things. The use of reason and intellect is a wonderful gift. But how quickly the old man rears his ugly head! Did God really say that Eve was the mother of all the living? Does He truly mean that? Did God really say that death is a curse? If human life came about accidently after billions of years then we are solely responsible for all our advances and greatness. We can say, “Look, O Man, how great you have become!” But if we are wrong, then it is just pride. It is pride that does not wish to recognize the gifts of God and to only worship Him. “You shall have no other gods.” What does this mean? We should fear, love and trust in Him above all things, even ourselves and all our abilities.. Humility and obedience to His holy will is the proper attitude, but see how difficult it is!


Again and again we hear it whispered in our ears, “did God really say…,” the same ears into which God spoke! In so many different ways, each time seemingly so small, even insignificant, but each time worthy of damnation! His Word is death to our nature, the Law only ever accusing us as traitors and rebels deserving eternal death. You and I do not desire to be around such a force, so to make it palatable we keep asking did God really say…? Perhaps we could do what God demands if only He would make it a bit easier. Maybe He doesn’t mean it exactly the way He said it. What a mess, like quicksand we sink further and further in the more we struggle and strain. As St. Paul says, “Who will save me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!”


For just as Adam and Eve were tempted in the Garden, just as each of us is tempted, Christ too is tempted. Rising out of the waters of Baptism, having heard the pronouncement of the Father, He is lead into the wilderness by the Holy Spirit. This is not a kind wilderness, with vegetation and food to be found. It is certainly no paradise. The description is more apt to a rocky and hilly desert filled with danger. If Eden had been the dwelling place of God, then this was the place of Satan. On the Day of Atonement the priest would slaughter one lamb and sprinkle its blood on the people to cover their sins. But on that same day the high priest would take a second lamb and placing his hand on its head confess the sins of all the people. This veritable scapegoat was driven into the wilderness, to Azazel, or Satan, carrying all the sins of the people to be with him. This place where our Lord is tempted is not the lush and bounteous garden or a Promised Land overflowing with milk and honey.


After fasting forty days the Tempter comes to Jesus saying. “If you are the Son of God….” “Come now Jesus, did God really say you are His Son? That can’t be true, you’re hungry! Isn’t God the Creator? He doesn’t need something like food to sustain him! Tell you what, prove that you are God. Just satisfy your hunger by making these stones into bread. Surely if God is your father He doesn’t want you to starve, why would He withhold anything from you?”


A piece of food eaten apart from the will of God had brought the downfall of man. But this Son demonstrates His sonship not with power but by obedience to the will of His Father. “Man does not live by bread alone, but by every Word that proceeds from the mouth of God.” What Christ does for us here in the wilderness is amazing, for He had been lead out purposefully to be tempted. While Adam had every appetite filled in the Garden and yet still sinned, here Christ has His hunger amplified by fasting. While Adam was deceived and brought low with only one question, Christ withstands a constant assault from the Adversary on multiple fronts. Here Christ stands, three times tempted and yet rebuking Satan with the very the truth of the holy will of God.


Christ does not go out into the desert to do battle with Satan for Himself. It is for you. Coming from the waters of baptism Christ enters into Satan’s domain to do battle for you. His perseverance in temptation is for you, so that when you were washed in the waters you would wear that same garment that He wore when proving His sonship by obedience. This is not an occasion for distress at how obedient Jesus is compared to you. It is revealed to you so that you may see that the Lamb of God is truly sinless and worthy to bear the sins of the world.


Each time Satan asks Jesus, “Did God really say” our Lord responds “Yes He did, see how He meant it.” The devil sought to dissuade Jesus from the cross, “All these kingdoms will be yours if you bow down and worship me.” Come Jesus, there is another way to save this people. But there is no doubt in the mind of Christ that all authority in heaven and on earth would come only in one way, through a bloody death to save you. “Be gone Satan! It is written, you shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only shall you serve.” He is prepared to do battle with the devil for you, and even as He begins His ministry the victory is certain. His hands and feet will be pierced through, as though struck by a venomous serpent. But just as He promised Adam and Eve, He will crush the head of the one who desired eternal death for you and me. There is no room for this wicked tempter to gain, he cannot soil the faith of the Son in His Father, and this is the faith that is yours in Him!

 

The devil was dealt a mortal blow on that Friday, his days are numbered as the day of our Lord draws near. In his panic he tries to terrify the Church in every way he can. Everyone, both believer and unbeliever hear the question “did God really say” in regards to the holy will of God. But there is another way that Satan tries to deceive you who have been rescued out of his kingdom by Christ. “Did God really say you are forgiven? Come now, you terrible sinner. You answered me correctly on the holy will of God, but do you really think He wants deal with such a pathetic sinner?” The answer, dear brothers and sisters, is the same, “Yes, God really does say so!” In chapter 12 Matthew makes clear who this Jesus is according to the prophecy of Isaiah,


“Behold, my servant whom I have chosen,
    my beloved with whom my soul is well pleased.
I will put my Spirit upon him,
    and he will proclaim justice to the Gentiles.
19 He will not quarrel or cry aloud,
    nor will anyone hear his voice in the streets;
20 a bruised reed he will not break,
    and a smoldering wick he will not quench,
until he brings justice to victory;
21     and in his name the Gentiles will hope.”


This is the one who withstood the assaults of the devil was declared the beloved, on whom the Holy Spirit descended. It is this Jesus that has mercy on you. He does not snuff out your faith because of weakness, nor does He break you off from His body because you daily struggle with sin. In this Jesus you hope, and with good cause! For Jesus really does say to you this day, “this is my body given for you,” and “this is my blood shed for you for the forgiveness of your sins.” This Christ truly brought justice in His bloody victory! When the Tempter questions you about you status before God, there is nothing to fear. Your Father in Heaven has promised, and He truly means exactly that. No matter what the Accuser may say, you are forgiven in Christ and covered with His righteous obedience to the Father. 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