Sermon – John 6.1-15 (Lent 4 – 2021)

To Be Citizens of His Kingdom

Let us pray: Lord God, heavenly Father, by Your Son You fed five thousand men in the wilderness with five loaves and two fish, showing that you nourish our bodies: We beseech You to nourish also our souls with Your gospel, that by the redemption of Your Son, we may be freed from sin, and be led with believers from every nation to our eternal inheritance by Your merciful Son, our Lord, Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one true God, now and forever. Amen.

Grace to you and peace, from God, our Father, and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.

After these things Jesus went over the Sea of Galilee, which is the Sea of Tiberias.

 2 Then a great multitude followed Him, because they saw His signs which He performed on those who were diseased.

 3 And Jesus went up on the mountain, and there He sat with His disciples.

 4 Now the Passover, a feast of the Jews, was near.

 5 Then Jesus lifted up His eyes, and seeing a great multitude coming toward Him, He said to Philip, “Where shall we buy bread, that these may eat?”

 6 But this He said to test him, for He Himself knew what He would do.

 7 Philip answered Him, “Two hundred denarii worth of bread is not sufficient for them, that every one of them may have a little.”

 8 One of His disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, said to Him,

 9 “There is a lad here who has five barley loaves and two small fish, but what are they among so many?”

 10 Then Jesus said, “Make the people sit down.” Now there was much grass in the place. So the men sat down, in number about five thousand.

 11 And Jesus took the loaves, and when He had given thanks He distributed them to the disciples, and the disciples to those sitting down; and likewise of the fish, as much as they wanted.

 12 So when they were filled, He said to His disciples, “Gather up the fragments that remain, so that nothing is lost.”

 13 Therefore they gathered them up, and filled twelve baskets with the fragments of the five barley loaves which were left over by those who had eaten.

 14 Then those men, when they had seen the sign that Jesus did, said, “This is truly the Prophet who is to come into the world.”

 15 Therefore when Jesus perceived that they were about to come and take Him by force to make Him king, He departed again to the mountain by Himself alone.

These are Your words, heavenly Father, sanctify us by the truth. Your Word is truth. Amen.

Dear fellow redeemed,

On Wednesday night, we focused on Jesus as King. He is the fulfillment of the Old Testament kingly office. I’ll touch on that briefly.

But, today we will consider how Jesus becomes our king.

One of the themes of Jesus’ preaching was the kingdom of God. The first words that Mark records Jesus saying is, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent and believe the gospel” (Mk 1:15). Many of his parables began with, “The kingdom of God is like…” or “The kingdom of heaven is like…”

Jesus is the king of this kingdom. The angel Gabriel announced to Mary, “He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end” (Lk 1:32-33). Plus, Jesus admits that He is king before Pilate. And Pilate was trying to determine if Jesus was a threat to Caesar’s rule.

Jesus is the King and He preached the kingdom of God. John’s gospel reading only speaks about the miracle Jesus performed, but Luke’s accounts speaks about what Jesus was doing before He multiplied the food. Luke records, “the [multitudes] followed Him; and He received them and spoke to them about the kingdom of God, and healed those who had need of healing.” He preached to them the kingdom of God.

After their bellies were full, they wanted Jesus as king, not understanding the kind of King Jesus is and what is the nature of His kingdom. Nor did they know the way of entrance into His kingdom. And so they sought to make Jesus king by force. But what did Jesus do? He did not let Himself be seized by them, and escaped to a mountain to avoid their plans.

It is clear that the crowd’s intentions to make Christ king were foolish. Yet there are many who attempt to seize Christ and make Him their king.

They claim Christ and claim citizenship in his kingdom. They might think that entrance is through external ways. Entrance into His kingdom is different than entrance into kingdoms of the world. To become a citizen of state you take residence in the state. To become a citizen of a nation you, by law, must either be born of a citizen, or go through the naturalization process and make an oath of citizenship before officials. But these methods are external. They do not take into consideration what lies inside, what is in the heart of the person. But Christ’s kingdom is a spiritual, heavenly kingdom, a kingdom of hearts and souls.

Outwardly, a person may regularly attend church. He may know and defend the doctrines of Scripture. He may be a fierce worker or defender in Church, fighting for the freedoms of Christians in the legislature, he might go to war for the freedom of religion, he might go to impoverished communities with church missions to do all sorts of works of charity and mercy. Yet, inwardly, if he remains impenitent, allowing sin to remain and rule him, if He does not believe that Jesus is his Savior from these sins, he remains outside of Christ’s kingdom. In such a heart, Christ has not established His throne, where He rules, guides, and sustains with His gospel. Such a person, though outwardly may seem to be among the number of believers, but they are like those about whom Jesus spoke, “Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ and then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!

They may want to be a citizen of the kingdom. They seek to seize Jesus and make Him their King. They claim Him as their own, and call themselves Christians. But all their external works come to nothing. They cannot enter the kingdom in such a way. Christ will not allow Himself to be seized by them.

And lest you become secure in your sins and take for granted your Christian faith, consider yourselves. Do you seek to enter the kingdom and seize Christ by your external works? You may deny yourself, do much for the church, stand side by side with Christians, yet you still live as children of the world, do not imagine yourself to have Christ as your King. If you do not have a heart where the sinful flesh is crucified and Christ rules, then you have nothing to show for your works. You may even claim to be baptized, hear the sermon, and take communion, but if you do not receive these gifts with a repentant heart that believes Christ’s forgiveness and salvation offered in these gifts, you are swine trampling on pearls. You are still outside. Christ will not be seized by you.

How frightening it is to be outside the kingdom, still under sin’s bondage and God’s wrath! But “do not fear, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom” (Lk 12:32). Isn’t this what Jesus taught you to pray? “Thy Kingdom come.” He taught His Church to pray that because He wants you to have the kingdom. He wants you to be seized by Him with repentant and believing hearts.

He says, “The Kingdom of God is at hand. Repent…”. See your poor condition. Pray the Holy Spirit that He may help you see it more clearly. The people in the wilderness with Jesus were sick and hungry. They needed health and food. Their need was external. They easily saw that. Rather, see the internal need, which is not as easily noticed. See the sin that rules in your hearts the sin that hides and stubbornly sticks in the corners of your heart. Our hearts in their fallen state are deathly sick and empty of righteousness. Acknowledge it before the Lord.

And then He says “believe the gospel.” Believe the good news. What good news it was for the sick multitude that Jesus had health to give them. What good news it was for the hungry that Jesus had bread and fish for them. They only knew their need, and trusted in Jesus to provide for them. Yet, this didn’t give them the kingdom, nor did this make Jesus their King, because their minds were only on the external things, the temporal needs of their bodies.

But see the good news of who Jesus is. Jesus’ is the Physician for the desperate and sick soul, and He is the Bread of Life for the sinful soul who hungers for righteousness.

Jesus is the Physician of your soul. By His stripes you are healed. By His suffering and death, your sin is atoned for. Through faith in Christ, your heart is cleansed of every sin. So see your need, and see how He gave up His life to be your Savior. Trust in Him to heal you. Bring before Him your sins, even those hidden faults, and those stubborn sins that don’t easily stay away, and He removes them all from you! You are cleansed. You are healed!

He is the Bread of Life. In Him is full forgiveness, and the righteousness that justifies you before the Father. You poor souls, who see the hunger of your hearts, partake of the Bread of Life through faith. He gives you eternal life in His kingdom.

That is how He desires to be seized: through faith in Him. We bring nothing to the table. We do not seize Him by our works. But simply recognize your need in repentance, and believe in Christ who is your help and salvation. He is the Great Physician and the Bread of Life. He gave up His life unto death that He may be your gracious King, and that you may dwell in His kingdom.

And He gives you His Word, baptism, and the Sacrament that inwardly faith may be created and sustained, so that faith may from those same means of grace receive Christ with His healing and righteousness.

And thus Christ, your Physician and Bread of Life, comes to you through the gospel, is received by faith, and thus enters into your hearts, to establish His throne, rule in it as a king. And thus His rule inwardly, will also show through externally, as you live in this world, not as children of this world, but as children of God and citizens of His kingdom of righteousness and life. God grant this to us. Amen.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, forevermore. Amen.


Sermon – Luke 11:14-28 (Lent 3 – 2021)

Let us pray: Lord God, heavenly Father, You have sent Your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, to take upon Himself our flesh, that He might overcome the devil, and defend us poor sinners against the adversary: We give thanks to You for Your merciful help, and we beseech You to attend us with Your grace in all temptations, to preserve us from carnal security, and by Your Holy Spirit to keep us in Your Word in Your fear, that we may be delivered from the enemy, and obtain eternal salvation; through the same, Your beloved Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one true God, now and forever. Amen

Grace to you and peace, from God, our Father, and our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.

14 And He was casting out a demon, and it was mute. So it was, when the demon had gone out, that the mute spoke; and the multitudes marveled.

 15 But some of them said, “He casts out demons by Beelzebub, the ruler of the demons.”

 16 Others, testing Him, sought from Him a sign from heaven.

 17 But He, knowing their thoughts, said to them: “Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation, and a house divided against a house falls.

 18 “If Satan also is divided against himself, how will his kingdom stand? Because you say I cast out demons by Beelzebub.

 19 “And if I cast out demons by Beelzebub, by whom do your sons cast them out? Therefore they will be your judges.

 20 “But if I cast out demons with the finger of God, surely the kingdom of God has come upon you.

 21 “When a strong man, fully armed, guards his own palace, his goods are in peace.

 22 “But when a stronger than he comes upon him and overcomes him, he takes from him all his armor in which he trusted, and divides his spoils.

 23 “He who is not with Me is against Me, and he who does not gather with Me scatters.

 24 “When an unclean spirit goes out of a man, he goes through dry places, seeking rest; and finding none, he says,`I will return to my house from which I came.’

 25 “And when he comes, he finds it swept and put in order.

 26 “Then he goes and takes with him seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter and dwell there; and the last state of that man is worse than the first.”

 27 And it happened, as He spoke these things, that a certain woman from the crowd raised her voice and said to Him, “Blessed is the womb that bore You, and the breasts which nursed You!”

 28 But He said, “More than that, blessed are those who hear the word of God and keep it!”

These are Your Words, heavenly Father. Sanctify us by the truth, Your word is truth. Amen.

Dear fellow redeemed,

Can you identify the works of the devil in our text? One was obvious. A demon possessed a man in our text. The crowd thought they spotted another work of the devil. But there isn’t any possible way for the crowd to have been more wrong. They accused Jesus of doing the work of the devil. It is a ridiculous and blasphemous claim that Jesus was in league with the devil.

There are two ways in which the devil is working in our text. We’ll first talk about the more obvious one, the demon who possessed a man and prevented him from speaking. Demon possession was a common thing that Jesus encountered during His ministry. Jesus exercised His authority casting out many demons. He also sent out His disciples and the 70 to go preach the kingdom of God, and when He sent them He gave them the authority to cast out demons.

Many dismiss demon possession as something that only happens in sci-fi movies. Materialists believe that demon possession was simply an explanation that a more primitive people used for conditions that couldn’t explain medically. But we know that the Bible is reliable and true, and if the Bible says that Jesus cast out a demon, we know Jesus cast out a demon.

We know this. But we should also acknowledge that this supernatural demonic work is not only a phenomenon that happened ages ago, but the devil is still active in these ways today.

He is particularly active in places where people use supernatural means to look into things God has not revealed to them. In parts of the world, it is common for people to seek answers from spirits, the dead, and so on. They open themselves and their homes and their minds to the devil and his demons. This is most common in places like Africa and Haiti. But in just the past few years, Christian church bodies in Europe have had to train many of their clergy to deal with demonic activity, because of the dramatic increase of those occurrences.

There is no question demonic activity happens here in the U.S. Through seances, Ouija boards, divination, spells, and so on people open themselves and their homes up to these attacks of the devil, which is manifested by home infestations, mental attacks, and even physical attacks, and in more rare cases demon possession.

The answer to the man possessed by a demon was Jesus and His Word. So also it is today. Jesus and His mighty word is the answer to the demonic supernatural activity today.

But what is the other activity of the devil that was taking place in our text? While some of the people were accusing Jesus of casting out demons by the authority of the prince of demons, it was really in the people observing Jesus that the devil was working causing them to blaspheme and test Him.

And this work of the devil is more deadly than any supernatural manifestation he could muster. It was through lies and deceptions that he caused Adam and Eve to fall into sin, and under the just wrath of God. He has brought all hearts and minds under the darkness of unbelief, so that the state of mankind is as Paul describes, “There is none righteous, no, not one; there is none who understands; there is none who seeks after God.… There is no fear of God before their eyes.” It is the devil’s work that people do not believe in Christ, but rather believe in lies about Him, and that say all sorts of falsehood about Him. They say that He is in league with Satan. They say that Jesus was merely a good teacher. They say that His death had no atoning benefit for us. They deny His resurrection. They speak evil of the Church, which He purchased with His own blood, which He sanctified through water, and made one with Himself. They are so blinded that they refuse to believe in Him. They tested Him, seeking from Him a sign from heaven, though they have seen numerous irrefutable signs of His divinity. Against the witness of their own eyes and ears they reject Him. Against the sure word of Scripture, they reject Jesus and His salvation.

With the evil in their hearts, they shouted for the death of the Lord of Life crying out, “Crucify Him, Crucify Him.” And they continue to oppose Christ and His Church, and they strive against all righteousness, such as you see in the bloodlust of the pro-abortion cause.

Under the power of the devil, and his lies and deceit, they remain under God’s wrath, and are on the path to eternal destruction.

We need to be on guard against the lies and deceit of the devil, the heresies about Christ and His salvation. For by Satan’s lies and deceit, he tries to lead us into misbelief, despair, and any other shameful sin and vice. More than possessing you, and afflicting you mentally or physically, he wants to put doubt in your mind about Christ and His Word, so that you may be separated from your Savior, and suffer hell eternally. Thus, he says, Christ is really not your Savior. You must accomplish your salvation. He is not your Lord. You are your own lord. That is real freedom. He tries to get you to question Christ’s love for you, pointing you to all your difficulties in life and saying, “I guess you’re on your own.”

The devil is not going to work against himself. He and his house, and all his demons are against you. If he’s got you imprisoned, he’s going to keep it that way. If not, he’s trying with all his might to bind you in the darkness of unbelief. He is the strong man, and we lack the powers to fight.

The devil will not topple his own kingdom. But Christ toppled it. Jesus is the stronger man, who has overcome the devil. By His death on the cross and His resurrection, He has done away with sin, He crushed the serpent’s head, and defeated death.

And it is the Word of Christ that frees us from bondage. In your baptism, which is the Word connected with water, an exorcism took place. Satan was cast from the throne of your hearts. His hold on you which blinded you in unbelief was released. Christ pictures it for us in baptism. In baptism, He comes to you, finds you in Satan’s house, with the water, He claims you as His own, and takes you away to Himself that you may know Him and be cleansed of your sin, and have life in His kingdom.

So then as we live in our baptismal waters, that is as we live the life of repentance of our sins, and receiving by faith Christ’s Word of forgiveness, and the body and blood of Christ in the Lord’s Supper that unites us with our living Christ, the devil cannot harm us. In the watery places of baptism, in which God’s believers live, the devil cannot touch us.

And so today receiving the Word of Christ, the devil is again cast away from us. Even if you have fallen for the lies of the devil. Even if you have fallen victim to him, bound and chained, hear now, you are forgiven all of your sins on account of Jesus’s sacrifice on the cross, and thus you are freed! You are the spoils of the victory Christ has won. And not only do you have that Word that delivers you, but you also have here for you the true body and blood of Christ! You are united with the Lord, who by that very body and blood conquered the devil!

Blessed, indeed are we, who hear the word of God, and keep it! That is, blessed are we who by the gift of God’s grace repent of our sins and receive by faith, the good news of Christ’s forgiveness. By that Word, we are saved from sin, death, and the devil.

We are saved, then to live as God’s people, who know Him, who love Him, who delight in His Word, and who live in righteousness as lights in the world glorifying our Father in heaven.

And so we pray, that the stronger man, Jesus Christ, would preserve us in His conquering Word, and that His Word may also free many who remain under the captivity of the devil. May our Lord, Jesus, increase His spoils to the glory of His name and to the shame of the defeated one! Amen.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost. As it was in the beginning, is now , and ever shall be, forevermore. Amen.


Sermon – Matthew 15.21-28 (Lent 2 – 2021)

Let us pray: Lord God, heavenly Father, grant us, we beseech You, by Your Holy Spirit, that He may strengthen our hearts and confirm our faith and hope in Your grace and mercy, so that, although we have reason to fear because of our conscience, our sin, and our unworthiness, we may nevertheless, with the woman of Canaan, hold fast to Your grace, and in every trial and temptation find You a present help and refuge; through Your beloved Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one true God, now and forever. Amen.

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.

  21 And Jesus went away from there and withdrew to the district of Tyre and Sidon.  22 And behold, a Canaanite woman from that region came out and was crying, “Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David; my daughter is severely oppressed by a demon.”  23 But he did not answer her a word. And his disciples came and begged him, saying, “Send her away, for she is crying out after us.”  24 He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”  25 But she came and knelt before him, saying, “Lord, help me.”  26 And he answered, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.”  27 She said, “Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.”  28 Then Jesus answered her, “O woman, great is your faith! Be it done for you as you desire.” And her daughter was healed instantly.

These are Your words heavenly Father. Sanctify us by the truth. Your Word is truth. Amen.

God’s Will Be Done Through Trials

Dear fellow redeemed,

It’s a dreadful trial this Canaanite woman was going through. Her daughter was suffering from demon possession. We don’t know the details in this specific case. In other examples of demon possession in Scripture, we hear people exhibiting superhuman strength, and practicing divination, and foretelling the future. The spirit may cause muteness and blindness. They might make their subjects seize. They might throw the bodies of their host into harm such as into fire or water aiming to kill him or her. We only know by the description of the mother was that it was very severe case of demon possession.

It is heart-wrenching for any parent to see their child suffering so greatly. And with compassion we look upon that Canaanite woman.

It is right to be disappointed in the disciples for not showing compassion on the woman. They just wanted to send this Canaanite woman away. It is certain that Jesus, our God of love and mercy, was moved with compassion for the woman. However, for a time He doesn’t show His compassion in order that He may test and strengthen her faith.

God allows trials to enter our lives, but as we endure them, we ought to remember that our Lord is merciful and loving. He has compassion on us in all our afflictions. And like a loving Father, He grieves at our afflictions. Yet, He seeks to turns those trials into blessings for us. He has good purposes behind those trials that He allows to come upon us. And one of the purposes of our trials is to repent, admit our sin and weakness, and go to Him for our help and salvation.

The woman in our text is a great example of one who was well taught by God through trial. What is this example? First, she didn’t trick herself into thinking that she was capable of handling it on her own. She recognized her own weakness and helplessness. Secondly, she looked to Christ for her aid. And how she apprehended Him is of particular importance to us. Therefore, through this trial, the Lord strengthens her, her faith is proved, and Jesus is amazed by her faith.

The woman’s daughter was possessed by a demon. Now, there are many sorts of trials people go through. Some are more difficult than others. Some make us feel more helpless than others. This trial that this mother was going through was a helpless situation. What These trials remind us of our sin, of our mortality, of our weakness. In this instance the woman is brought to the realization of the power of the devil. It had such a hold on her daughter, and there wasn’t anything she could do about it. She had to turn to one who could help.

Likewise, in our trials, we should allow ourselves to be reminded of our sin, our mortality, our weakness, and the strength of our enemies such as the devil, the strength of sin, and its hold that it wants to have on us.

Yet how often do we struggle through a trial without acknowledging these things? How often do we miss the opportunities to be reminded to learn of our weaknesses? How often do we push through an affliction in our lives without repentance for our sins. For our lives are full of idols upon which we lean. Our lives are full of things we look for our help as god. We have a tendency to overestimate our own strength and might and reason and abilities. We are full of pride, thinking that we have the strength to handle everything. We might push through a trial with the goal to show how strong we are. When that famous quote is used, Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me,” how often is the focus on the first part “I can do all things,” and not the second which says that it is Christ who strengthens us to endure trials.

The Canaanite woman could have thought, I need to do something to fix this. Or I need to contribute something to solving this bad situation. I must show myself worthy in order to seek and get the help of Jesus. But she didn’t think or act in this way at all. Instead, despaired of her own strength, looked to Christ, and pleaded upon the mercy of Christ.

So when we suffer health troubles, suffer family conflicts, when we suffer the death of loved ones, the loss of a job, etc., learn from your trials, repent, and recognize your weakness, the strength of your enemies, and that your help must come from outside of you.

Your help comes from the Lord who made heaven and earth. This is where the Canaanite woman turned. She turned to Jesus, whom she knew to be the Lord, the Son of David, the Messiah. But notice how she apprehends Him, how she looks to Him, and trusts Him. She relies upon the word about Him being merciful and kind. She doesn’t take hold of what she sees. She sees her Lord ignoring her, slighting her, and insulting her. But she apprehends Him by what she hears about Him in the Word. She knows that He has come for the salvation not just of the Jews, but also for the world. She knows that He is merciful and is compassionate to her, because of the Word. And so on account of that Word she prays to Him, for He has the power and authority over the devil. This is the faith that impressed Jesus. She did not base her beliefs about Jesus upon her circumstances in life.

Let us learn from this, because how often do we fail to use our Lord’s name in prayer, to come to Him in our every need? Perhaps you think that your troubles mean that God does not love you. That is a lie. Many will use affliction and trial as a reason to separate themselves from God, to turn from Him, and to neglect His Word. How many people think that they need to straighten out their lives on their own two feet first before they can come to church, and before they can come to God in prayer.

But draw near to God, open your ears to God’s Word in trial, and call upon His name. Do not doubt whether He is listening to you, or whether He cares about you. Even if He seems to be distant, and is not paying any mind you and your trials, trust what the Word of God says about His love for you.

He was crucified for you to save you from sin, death, and the devil! He gave up His life into death on the cross so that you may have eternal life with Him. What great love He has for you. Surely He has compassion on you in all your in all your trials.

He might miraculously help you in your troubles. Often He gives you people to help you in your need, family, friends, your pastor, your brothers and sisters in the congregation. And always, He gives you what you have already been given in your baptism. He gives you His Holy Spirit through His Word, to comfort you and strengthen you, that you knowing you are weak rest in the strength and love of God, which will never fail you.

Therefore, see that God uses these trials to draw us closer to Him and to strengthen our faith. Through them He kicks out from underneath us every idol we may depend on, and every bit of self-reliance. We find that they do not help us, and that we are weaker than we think. He shows us that we need Him to be our Lord. And so we repent, and turn to the promises of God’s Word. Clinging to them, we cling to Christ. He is our strength, our rock, and our refuge.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son…


Sermon – Matthew 4.1-11 (Lent 1 – 2021)

Let us pray: Lord God, heavenly Father, inasmuch as the adversary does continually afflict us, and as a roaring lion walks about, seeking to devour us: We beseech You for the sake of the suffering and death of Your Son, Jesus Christ, to help us by the grace of the Holy Spirit, and to strengthen our hearts by Your Word, that our enemy may not prevail over us, but that we may evermore abide in Your grace, and be preserved unto everlasting life; through the same, Your beloved Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one true God, now and forever. Amen.

Grace to you and peace from God, our Father, and our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.  

Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.

 2 And when He had fasted forty days and forty nights, afterward He was hungry.

 3 Now when the tempter came to Him, he said, “If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.”

 4 But He answered and said, “It is written,`Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.'”

 5 Then the devil took Him up into the holy city, set Him on the pinnacle of the temple,

 6 and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down. For it is written:`He shall give His angels charge over you,’ and,`In their hands they shall bear you up, Lest you dash your foot against a stone.'”

 7 Jesus said to him, “It is written again,`You shall not tempt the LORD your God.'”

 8 Again, the devil took Him up on an exceedingly high mountain, and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory.

 9 And he said to Him, “All these things I will give You if You will fall down and worship me.”

 10 Then Jesus said to him, “Away with you, Satan! For it is written,`You shall worship the LORD your God, and Him only you shall serve.'”

 11 Then the devil left Him, and behold, angels came and ministered to Him.

These are Your words, heavenly Father. Sanctify us by the truth. Your Word is truth. Amen.

Dear fellow redeemed,

St. Paul writes to the Ephesians, “Taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one” (6:16).

Scripture calls the temptations of the devil fiery darts. Luther picks this language up in the Large Catechism when he writes about the sixth petition, in which we pray, “Lead us not into temptation.” He writes, “Then comes the devil, inciting and provoking in all directions, but especially agitating matters that concern the conscience and spiritual affairs, namely, to induce us to despise and disregard both the Word and works of God, to tear us away from faith, hope, and love, and bring us into misbelief, false security, and obduracy, or, on the other hand, to despair, denial of God, blasphemy, and innumerable other shocking things. These are indeed snares and nets, yea, real fiery darts which are shot most venomously into the heart, not by flesh and blood, but by the devil.”

But then when we consider Jesus’ temptations in the wilderness, we might be prone to think, “But it’s Jesus. He’s the Son of God. Those fiery darts of the devil deflect off him as though He were made of steel. They don’t phase Him a bit.”

Certainly as true God, He has all power and authority over Satan. If He was in that wilderness in glory, sure the darts wouldn’t have fazed Him. He wouldn’t have been hungry. Wouldn’t have need angels ministering to Him. And the devil wouldn’t get a single syllable out of his mouth before Christ would cast Him away. But Jesus didn’t come to flex His divine might.

Rather He came in humility, as man to save man. He was willingly born in humility, lived in humility, and suffered in humility. He was willingly born under the Law, lived under the Law and suffered under the Law. He did battle against Satan here in weakness. According to His divinity, He is the Judge and He is Righteousness, but He did not come into the world to condemn the world, but that He might save the world. Thus He was born under the Law, that He may redeem us who are under the Law.

Thus see Christ in battle. Yes, He is fully God, but He did not use His divine might. It was hidden. You see there instead Christ doing battle for you in the frailty of His human flesh, though He did not have a sinful nature.

And so the devil attacked. And the devil threw at Christ his fiery darts. With lies, half-truths, deceit, accusations, and perversion of God’s Word, he attacks.

You know what his attacks are like. How would you describe them? Luther said that the devil is the master of a 1000 arts. Yet, he often uses his tried and effective methods.

In fact we see a striking similarity between the tactics he used against Adam and Eve, and against Jesus. To Eve, he said, “You will be like God.” To Jesus, he said, “If you are the Son of God.” Adam and Eve had the image of God, but were not like God in knowing good and evil, but the devil tempted Eve to become like God. Jesus is the Son of God, but the devil tempted Jesus to doubt whether he is the Son of God. In both cases, he tried to get them to doubt God’s Word. For Adam and Eve, the word was God’s command to not eat of the fruit of the Knowledge of good and evil, and the threat attached to it. For Jesus, it was the Father’s words spoken 40 days earlier, “You are My beloved Son. With you I am well pleased.”

He uses the same tactics on us today. He tempts us to be like god. He tempts us to obey our desires, to trust in ourselves, to exalt ourselves in glory. He tempts us to believe that we are accountable only to ourselves, and that there is no divine punishment for sin. But to do this, he works to get us to doubt God’s Word, which says that you are not God, but God is God, and He is your Creator, the sustainer of your life, that it is His law you must obey, and if you do not there is most definitely eternal judgment for it.

But then he tempts you in the opposite way. For you are God’s baptized children, justified before God through faith. But then the devil comes along accuses you of your sins, and says, “If you are a child of God, you wouldn’t have done that.” Or he takes your trials and struggles in life, and says, “If you are a child of God, you wouldn’t be suffering so greatly.” And so he strives to get us to doubt God’s Word, which declares us God’s baptized people.

And so those fiery darts of the devil pierce us. We fall. We obey our sinful desires rather than God. Our love for God falls short. We put our trust in ourselves. We sometimes act as though there is no consequences for our sins. And then the devil accuses us and gets us to doubt. And these fiery darts would most certainly conquer us, if not for our Champion who enters into battle for us.

This wasn’t a chance meeting here between Jesus and the devil. Jesus followed the Holy Spirit into the wilderness for the very purpose of doing battle against the devil for us. And so, as one who was under the Law, He kept it for you. Man wanted to be God, but God did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the the form of a bondservant, and thus he hungered 40 days and 40 nights, and trusted His Father. Man doubted God’s Word, but Jesus stood firmly upon the Word, saying, “Thus it is written.” Jesus emerged from the battle victorious. He remained perfect under the Law. This was not the final victory over the devil. This took place at Jesus death, for Scripture says, “By His death, He destroyed the one who has the power of death, that is the devil.” But here He remained the unblemished Lamb who would be sacrificed for us. Plus, His perfection under the demands and threats of the Law, earned for us a righteousness that justifies us before God.

And so what does that mean for us? The great American theologian Walther used the picture of David and Goliath. The Philistines stood on one side of a valley, and Saul and his army stood on the other side. Then the giant of frightening size came forward from the Philistine army, and he mocked God and God’s people. He challenged anyone of the Israelites in a duel. If the Israelite won, the Philistines would be become servants to them. If Goliath won, the Israelites would then become servants to the Philistines. Everyone of the Israelites feared Goliath, and no one would come forward. Goliath insulted the Israelites for 40 days, until the unassuming David arrived to the battleground. Trusting in God, he challenged the giant. With one stone, David fell the giant.

Satan, the giant had been harassing mankind in this fallen wilderness, and no one was equal to him to challenge him. But the lowly and unassuming servant, Christ, came and conquered the devil!

Those who still serve sin remain under the power of the devil, and have no part in Christ’s victory. Walther said, “If you want to be eternally blessed by the battle of your Savior your heavenly General, nothing more is demanded of you and all men than that you play the part of a believing spectator [as those who watched on as David defeated Goliath]. The important thing is not that you learn how to fight against sin and Satan from Christ’s example but the first, most important, the main things is that you learn to believe that Christ battles for you, in your place, for your freedom and salvation. Whoever knows and feels his sins, whoever knows that hitherto he has served the devil, that he was full of unbelief, contempt of God’s Word, pride, vanity, lust, and love of the world, or that he at least has not really battled against the world, flesh, and Satan, let him merely look to his Savior; this Champion from the stem of David has held the field for us; this Lion from the tribe of Judah has conquered for us. Though you may have fallen ever so deeply, though you may have even begged the devil’s pardon, free yourself form this disgraceful tyranny. Side with Christ; then you are victor over sin and hell; then Christ also divides the spoils of war with you, forgiveness of sins, righteousness, life, and salvation.”

All the devil’s work is come unravelled, when you receive by faith Christ’s Word of forgiveness and receive His Sacrament. Every spiritual hurt that the devil inflicts upon you with his fiery darts is healed by Christ’s forgiveness.

And this the beginning of your battle against the devil as he continues to throw his fiery darts at you. It is faith which trusts that Christ has already won the battle, that you live as God’s people. But then you also have the word.

There’s reverence for a weapon that was lethal against enemies in the fight for good. You might see the sword of a famous general in a museum. The weapon that Christ used to take down the devil was the Word of God. This Word is not an artifact, but it is the living and powerful Word of God that still causes the devil and his minions to flee and scatter today.

So with faith in Christ and prayer to our heavenly Father and the powerful Word of God, we live in the fallen world, fighting a battle against the devil which has already been won. The forgiveness, righteousness, and eternal life are already ours in Christ. Amen.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, forevermore. Amen.

2021 Sermons Lent

Jesus Destroys the Activity of Devil (Lent 3)