Monday, February 15, 2016

Lent 1 Sermon: "In the Wilderness"

+ Lent 1 – February 14th, 2016 +
Redeemer Lutheran, HB
Series C: Deut. 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.

Why are you here this morning?

Duty, obligation, calling? Because mom or dad made you? The coffee and donuts? Whatever our motivation, there’s really only one this congregation exists. Only one reason we’re here this morning. Sin.

This place is here for one reason – for God to expose and forgive our sin. That’s the only business of the Church. And that’s why you’re here – or should be. This is what Lent is all about: Jesus takes away your sin. Everything Jesus does is to take away our sin.
Eden is gone. We live in the wilderness of sin.

Unfortunately, if we don’t think our sin is all that serious or deadly, then we don’t really need Lent, or Church, or Jesus. If we have no sin, what good is a Savior who bleeds and dies for us? Our sinful flesh would much rather live the lie: “I’m good. You’re good. We’re all good. It’s those other people that need saving, not me.”

This is why we confess our sins. It’s not because it’s popular, comfortable, or attractive to visitors. We do it because the words are true, even though they hurt. We are poor miserable sinners. We are sinful and unclean in thought, word, and deed.

If we ever lose sight that it is my sin that drives me out of paradise into the wilderness, and eventually, that if I had my way of things, I’d be out of heaven and into the total isolation of hell forever. If we ever lose sight that we need deliverance from our sin, and our family and friends need deliverance from their sin, and our neighbors and coworkers need deliverance from sin – then the Church has lost her purpose.

God put Redeemer Lutheran here, in Huntington Beach, in this very place for you, so he can forgive your sin. That’s why Jesus is here with you now.

This is why we’re here this morning, this Lent. We need to hear the truth about us. That our sin is an infection of death. It festers, rots, and decays. Satan comes to us as he did Adam and Eve and Jesus, with wave after wave of temptation. Our sinful flesh is no help either. We hold grudges, get angry, hurt our friends and enemies instead of praying for them, we reject others and are rejected, we fall ill, loved ones die. All of this is because we live in a fallen world.

So, if your marriage is perfect, your children are perfect, you’re in perfect health, have a perfect home, school is going great, nothing breaks down, spills, or falls apart, no one disappoints you and you have no pain or sorrow, then you can relax. You’re safe…sin hasn’t attacked you. You don’t need Lent or the Church or Jesus.

But if your life is not perfect, your health not perfect, your family not perfect, then something deadly is causing all this grief and pain.

It’s not God. God is love, not hate. God is peace, not chaos. God is life, not death. God is merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love for you.

No, the problem isn’t God. The problem is sin. Mine. Yours. The world’s. We live in the wilderness of sin.

But Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness.

You are not alone in this wilderness, Jesus is with you, also alone, starving, stalked and hunted by Satan. Jesus is on his way to death as well. But why is Jesus here? He has no sin, no grudges, no malice, no desires of the flesh. Why is he in the wilderness hungry, tempted, and suffering?

Jesus is in the wilderness because you are here.

God could not sit by and watch us suffer. So he sends Jesus to be with you when everything and everyone else is against you. If you lose all things, Jesus loses all things. If you hunger, Jesus hungers. If you sweat and squirm, he sweats and squirms. If you suffer condemnation, he suffers condemnation. If you die, he must die too. Jesus loves you too much to leave you in this wilderness alone to die. So Jesus goes into the wilderness, defeats the devil, takes your temptation, sin, and death nails it to his cross.

But there’s more happening here in the wilderness. Wherever Jesus walks in the desert, new life springs up. Jesus’ cross is your tree of life. The tree of the Garden is gone, but Jesus plants a new tree with himself upon it for you. And upon that tree, Satan is defeated. From that tree, you’re forgiven, fed, and live.

This is why we have Lent. Jesus suffers, starves, and wanders in the desert for 40 days because you are here. He’s not here to show a little sympathetic pat on the back go on his way. He’s here to rescue you from this wilderness. To give you a new paradise. To take you back to heaven. To forgive you.

And so he washes you, even as he washed the disciples’ feet. He feeds you even as he was fed by the angels. He forgives you because he died for you. His altar is our oasis in the desert; we’re nourished by his body and blood. His Baptism pours out living water of the Holy Spirit upon us. His absolution wipes the dust, dirt, and grime of the wilderness off of us, and cleanses us from all sin.

Jesus is with you in the wilderness. With you this Lent. With you today. You are forgiven. And that’s why we’re here.

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

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