Monday, February 18, 2013

Sermon for Lent 1: "A Tale of Two Adams"

+ Lent 1 – February 17, 2013 +
Redeemer Lutheran, HB
Series C: Deuteronomy 26:1-11; Romans 10:8-13; Luke 4:1-13

In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

             Jesus is tempted three times just as Adam and Eve were. The old evil Foe has no new tricks. He uses the same three temptations in the wilderness as he did in the garden: food, power and idolatry, and doubt in God’s Word.  Three temptations, but it’s always the same lie: Jesus’ Word isn’t enough.

            Worship your desire. Worship yourself. Worship any word - fear, love, and trust in anything or anyone  - besides Jesus. That’s the devil’s game. It worked on Adam and Eve. They lost. It works on us too. In Adam we all lost.

            But the devil’s temptation tactics don’t fool Jesus. Why not? He has flesh and blood like you. He was born of a woman like you. Hungry. Tired. Wept like you. Tempted like you are. He is like you in all respects except He is without sin. Perfect. Obedient. Son of Adam and Son of God.

            Right before Jesus’ temptation in chapter 4, in chapter 3 Luke shows you Jesus’ family tree – beginning with Jesus and ending with Adam –  to show you that Jesus is the new and greater Adam.

            As it was with Adam and Eve, so it is with Jesus.

            The devil starts his temptation with appetizers. “If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread.”

            The devil isn’t concerned about a fair fight; he attacks when Jesus is weak and hungry. Beware. He’ll attack you the same way. He knows what the ancient Romans knew: you can do anything you want as long as the people’s desires and stomachs are satisfied: bread and circuses. The devil is an expert party planner, catering lies for our every desire. How easily we turn God’s good gifts into idols: work, relationships, sex, food, technology, even worship, faith, and church – it’s all about me.

            Not so for Jesus. He denies himself. He fasts 40 days. But don’t try this at home. This isn’t a WWJD moment, as if by giving up something for Lent you’re living like Jesus; you’re free to do it, but do it for the right reason. Jesus came to serve, not to be served nor to serve Himself. The Bread of Life refuses to make bread for himself.

“It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone.”
            Jesus overturns the dust of Adam’s death and sows the living seed of His Word. Jesus does what Adam couldn’t do, what we cannot do. Jesus fights the devil. He resists the temptation. He stands firmly on the Word of God. All of this…for you. That’s his bread and yours, God’s Word. “It is written.” He knows the Father will provide all He needs.

            Where the first Adam ate and brought death, the second Adam does not eat and brings life. You, who hunger and thirst for righteousness, are filled by His Word of life - in Scripture, water, absolution, bread and wine.  The devil’s lies are no match for the Word. Christ speaks. The devil flees.

            Next, the devil took Jesus up and showed him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time, and said to him, “To you I will give all this authority and their glory...if you will worship me, it will all be yours.”

            It’s a regurgitated temptation, the same one that got Adam to bite down on the lie. Kingdoms. Authority. Power. Glory. You can be like God. It’s a temptation to idolatry. A temptation to satisfy fallen man’s insatiable appetite for power.

            The devil comes at us this way too. The devil loves have-it-your-way-religion. My kingdom come. My will be done. “Have-it-your-way-spirituality. Have-it-your-way-worship. Have-it-your-way-church meetings. You can have it all your way…if only you bow down and worship me.”
            But Jesus doesn’t take the bait. He stands firm. Refuses the power grab. The devil would’ve promised him anything to bend the knee and avoid the cross. But Jesus will bend the knee to no one save His Father.

“It is written, you shall worship the Lord your God, and him only shall you serve.”
         But the only way Jesus is enthroned as King of kings and Lord of lords is by his coronation on the cross. No cross, no Kingdom. So he refuses to be the Superman and instead becomes the Man of Sorrows, the broken, bleeding man, the beggar King who rules by dying and rising.

             That’s why Divine Service isn’t conditional like the devil’s worship: “If you worship me, then I’ll give you__________.” It’s exactly the opposite. Christ gives freely. Divine Service is just like it sounds. Christ serves you. Christ washes away your sin in Baptism. Christ pours out his forgiveness for you to eat and drink. Christ forgives your sins. Jesus’ worship is pure, and His purity is yours.

            Finally, the devil takes Jesus to the top of the temple. “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here, for it is written, ‘He will command his angels concerning you to guard you’ and ‘on their hands they will bear you up lest you strike your foot against a stone.’”
            See how cleverly the devil twists Scripture. He plants doubt in God’s Word. It worked on the first Adam. “Did God really say, “You shall not eat of any tree in the garden?” Did God really say, “On the day you eat of that tree, you will die?”And by mixing a little truth with his lie, he makes his lie all the more convincing.

            This third temptation is particularly insidious. Luther observed that this temptation – the temptation to forsake the Lord’s clear Word - is the greatest. It’s a temptation to put God’s Word and promise to the test. With this temptation the devil scratches itching ears, muddling God’s Words with our emotions and opinions. With this temptation the devil has blown his foul breath of false teaching into countless churches and led many astray.

            Did God really say that, “Baptism now saves you?” Did God really say, “Your sins are forgiven?” Did God really say, “This is my body and my blood?”

             In all these temptations – food, power and idolatry, and doubt in God’s Word - the first Adam failed. And so do we.

            But not Christ, the second Adam.  The lord of the lies is no match for the Way, the Truth and the Life. That’s what Luther means in that line of the hymn, “One little Word can fell him.” That little word is liar.

            Where the first Adam said “yes” to the devil’s lie, Jesus says no, three times. Jesus resists. Stands firm. Steadfast.   

            But Jesus does not stand alone in the wilderness. Jesus is your substitute, your stand in. His temptation is our temptation; His victory is our victory.

            Everything Jesus does is for us. He was Born for us. Grew in wisdom and knowledge for us. Was an obedient teenage boy for us. Baptized for us. Sent out into the wilderness for us. Tempted for us.                       

            And when the devil had ended every temptation, he departed from him until an opportune time.” Luke points to the cross. There’s the opportune time. In the wilderness, Jesus fights the devil so you don’t have to. But the fight isn’t over once the devil leaves. Jesus goes to fulfill the rest of Psalm 91 – the part the devil conveniently left out:

            “You will tread on the lion and the adder…the young lion and the serpent you will trample underfoot.”

            The first Adam could not defeat the devil. But the second Adam, Jesus, can and did defeat him. So that the devil, who overcame mankind by the tree of the garden, might likewise by the tree of the cross be overcome by Christ.       

            In the first Adam we were cursed to dust and death. In second Adam we are raised from the ashes by His resurrection.

            In the first Adam we were cast out of Paradise into the wilderness in sin and death. In the second Adam we’re brought through the wilderness to a new creation: “today you are with me in Paradise.”  

            In the first Adam we were cursed with the food of bread and sweaty labor. In the second Adam, we’re fed by the sweat and blood of his brow in his body and blood. Eat this bread and live forever.

            In the first Adam we were tempted and fell. In Christ’s temptation, life, death and resurrection, we stand victorious over sin, death and the devil.   

            And that’s good news. Because we are the Baptized. And that means the devil will come after us too and not just during the 40 days of Lent. You will be tempted by your appetites, by the lust for power and control, by the desire to test and doubt God’s Word. But you need not fear the devil or his lies. The serpent’s head is crushed. The devil is thrown down. Satanm hear this proclamation, "I am baptized into Christ!" And that's good news, because you are Christ's and Christ is yours.

            Christ stood firm for you in the wilderness, on the cross, and today by His word, water, body and blood. And he holds the field victorious. Forever.

 In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.


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