Sunday, March 13, 2011

Sermon: Invocabit - 2011

13 March 2011 at Salem Lutheran Church, Gretna, LA

Text: Matt 4:1-11 (Gen 3:1-21, 2 Cor 6:1-10)

In the name of + Jesus. Amen.

God created the first man, Adam, out of the dust of the earth, the Adamah. For in those days, even the dirt from which God made our first ancestor was clean. The universe was perfect. Adam was flawless, created without sin, living in an unspoiled creation – and there was no death to be found anywhere.

“Now the serpent was more crafty…” The serpent was the manifestation of the rebellious angel known to us by the title “Satan” – also known as “the tempter.”

The tempter was also a liar, drawing Adam’s helpmate Eve into doubting God’s Word and God’s truthfulness. “Did God actually say…?” inquired the tempter. He appealed to the woman’s vanity, and she appealed to the man’s weakness. They both sinned, and the perfect became flawed, the saints became sinners, and the immortal became mortal. We became dead men walking.

The old evil foe
Now means deadly woe; 
Deep guile and great might
Are his dread arms in fight; 
On earth is not his equal.

In their temptation by the serpent, our first parents failed. They sinned, they died, and they left us all with the mess – and no possible way to clean it up.

With might of ours can naught be done
Soon were our loss effected.

This, dear friends, is why, to this very day, we live with sin, with evil, with struggles and sorrows of all kinds, and with death. God’s good creation has been corrupted. God’s beloved people have turned on him. And today we hear in God’s Word the same sobering message Christians around the world heard Wednesday night, as the dust from which we were made, now dirty and menacing, reminders of death, were smeared on our own sinful foreheads: “You are dust, and to dust you shall return.”

Man 1.0 was a dismal failure. God gave him a will, freedom to obey or disobey, a mind to be able to interact with other beings – and in encountering the serpent, he believed the word of the creature over and above the word of the Creator. Seeking to be greater than God, he became worse than the dust from which he had been fashioned.

And yet, dear friends, even as we sang today the words of the Creator: “He shall call upon Me, and I will answer him; I will deliver him and honor him. With long life I will satisfy him, and show him my salvation,” our Creator did not give up on us. Though He gave Adam and Eve the sad news of their punishment, the worst was given to the tempter. For a promised future man, a Man 2.0, would be born of a woman to get even, to put things right, as God told the serpent: “[The Seed of the woman] shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel.”

Meanwhile, the tempter still tempts, death comes to all, and sin rules this corrupted and broken world. Power and avarice still tempt starry-eyed human beings as they plunge headlong into destruction. And yet, we are not without help and without hope.

Though devils all the world should fill,
All eager to devour us,
We tremble not, we fear no ill;
They shall not overpower us.

For we do indeed call upon God, and He answers us. He hears our cry for pity, for mercy, for forgiveness, and for life. He sends Man 2.0, Jesus of Nazareth, the Christ, God’s very Son in the flesh, the promised Seed of the woman, to crush the tempter’s head.

But for us fights the Valiant One
Whom God Himself elected.
Ask ye, Who is this? Jesus Christ it is.

Our Lord Jesus Christ, Man 2.0, the New and Greater Adam, the immortal God who puts on mortal human flesh, our Champion and Redeemer, defeats the tempter and avenges all mankind, living sinlessly to defeat sin, dying and rising to defeat death, and shedding His blood as an atonement for all the sins committed from Adam until this very moment and beyond.

Our Lord not only defeats the tempter, crushing his head at the cross, defying our death by leaving behind an empty tomb, but also demonstrates to us how to repel the serpent, how to beat back temptation, how to fight back against evil. Three times, the tempter repeats his tactic that defeated Adam, and three times our blessed Lord says: “It is written.” For it is written in God’s Word that the Word of God is mightier than a two-edged sword.

In the face of hunger and want (a fate unknown to Adam before the fall, but known to Jesus in His fasting), the devil taunts Him to turn stones into bread. “It is written,” says our Lord by way of reply, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every Word that comes from the mouth of God.”

The Word they still shall let remain
Nor any thanks have for it;
He’s by our side upon the plain
With His good gifts and Spirit.

For the Word is not only written, but made flesh; not only given to us as a book to read and recite, but in the form of the God-Man to be shared and proclaimed. The Word of God is with God and is God, the Word by whom all things are made offers re-creation, renewal, and renaissance, holy rebirth and a second chance, the opportunity to likewise join Him as Man 2.0 in repentance and forgiveness, all offered as a free gift, dear friends, a free gift received in faith – faith in the words of God, and faith in the very Word of God.

In Christ, the tempter, the old evil foe, the serpent, the one who brought ruination to creation, is himself ruined. For Christ’s victory is our victory – even as Christ’s life is our life – come what may in this broken world that, in spite of it all, is being remade anew.

And take they our life,
Goods, fame, child, and wife
Though these all be gone,
Our victory has been won;/The Kingdom ours remaineth.

“Behold,” dear friends, “now is the favorable time. Now is the day of salvation.” For even in God’s kingdom, we servants of the Word, servants of Him who defeated the serpent, often endure the fallout of the fall: “hardships, calamities, beatings, imprisonments, riots, labors, sleepless nights, hunger,” and yet, in the Word made flesh, all of these are overcome.

Do not be discouraged, brothers and sisters. The tempter’s days are few. The serpent’s time is limited. The power of sin has already been broken. The world corrupted by the devil is already on the mend through the Word. And so we cling to the Word, we lay claim to salvation, we hold onto the gift given to us by God’s mercy, and through the clouds and the gloom we see hope and life! He has won salvation for us, dear friends, and now is the day of salvation; now is the day to hold onto the gift, and by the strength only He can give to us, refuse to turn loose. Our Lord Jesus Christ, Man 2.0, is restoring paradise by means of the cross and by the power of the Word, and our Old Adams are being remade back into His image, even as creation itself will be made anew.

This world’s prince may still,
Scowl fierce as he will,/He can harm us none.
He’s judged; the deed is done;
One little word can fell him.

“It is written.” Amen.

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

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