Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Sermon: Wednesday of Invocabit (Lent 1) Midweek – 2014

12 March 2014
Text: Ps 91

In the name of + Jesus.  Amen.

This week in the church year takes its name, “Invocabit”, from the first word of our Introit in the original Latin. 

And as this is the first full week of Lent, we not only begin our journey to Calvary with Christ, we begin our skirmish with Satan as we make our way to the resurrection.

Our Introit comes from Psalm 91, which has traditionally been used in exorcisms and house blessings, and in other situations in which it is necessary to confront Satan and his minions.  And it makes sense that this Psalm should be paired up with our Gospel lesson, in which Jesus defeats the devil by quoting Scripture.  Ironically, the devil quoted this Psalm to try to trick Jesus into killing Himself.

Dear friends, here are two truths which are unpopular in today’s world.  First, Satan exists and tempts us to sin and wants to see us severed from our God, bereft of faith, repudiating our baptism, scorning the cross, denying Jesus, and he seeks to see us dead and eternally condemned.  Second, as Shakespeare said, the devil can indeed quote Scripture.

Dear brothers and sisters, our Lord Jesus has set a pattern for us to follow.  We must be willing to do battle with Satan.  We must not fear him, nor ignore him, but fix our eyes firmly on Jesus and wield the sword of His Word.  Psalm 91 is irksome to the devil and comforting to us.  Listen to these promises:

“He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.  I will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress, my God in whom I trust.”

We cannot trust the devil.  We cannot trust the world.  We cannot trust our fallen nature.  But we can trust the Word of God.  We can trust the God who loves us, created us, redeemed us, sanctifies us, and promises us everlasting life.

“For He will deliver you from the snare of the fowler and from the deadly pestilence.  He will cover you with His pinions, and under His wings you will find refuge; His faithfulness is a shield and buckler.”

A mighty fortress is our God, dear friends!

“He will cover you with His pinons, and under His wings you will find refuge, His faithfulness is a shield and buckler.  You will not fear the terror of the night, nor the arrow that flies by day, nor the pestilence that stalks in darkness, nor the destruction that wastes at noonday.”

Listen to the comfort in this passage!  We are surrounded by demons and devils and evil and corruption and temptation and sin and death.  And yet, dear brothers and sisters, and yet, we need not fear because we have a shield to defend us against the fiery darts of the evil one, against the long knives that come out to stab us in the back, against the venom of the ancient viper that would paralyze us and kill us.  The cross is our shield!

For “no evil shall be allowed to befall you, no plague come near your tent.”  As Luther teaches us, Satan is like a raving dog on a leash.  He can growl and snarl and slobber and put on a big show, but the Lord God Himself has this beast tethered.

“For He (the Lord) will command His angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways.  On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.  You will tread on the lion and the adder; the young lion and the serpent you will trample underfoot.”

Satan taunted our Lord with this promise, and encouraged Him to put His Father to the test, to attempt to commit suicide.  But, dear friends, our Lord resisted the devil with God’s Word.  He would not take the bait.  And indeed, the Lord promised to protect Him from all harm.  And that promise is made to all of us in Christ, dear friends!  Angels are dispatched for our protection.  Even when we are baffled and beaten down, war weary and ready to give up, our Lord does not give up, dear friends.  Jesus Himself continues to wage war against the devil for us.  And just as our Lord fulfills the prophecy by crushing the head of the devil at the cross, we who are baptized into the death and resurrection of our Lord, we who share His human nature, we whose flesh has been renewed in baptism, who are quickened with the Holy Spirit and called out of our graves by our Lord Himself, we unite with Him to trample the vile serpent underfoot.

The Lord continues: “I will deliver him… I will protect him… I will answer him… I will be with him in trouble… I will rescue him and honor him…. I will satisfy him and show him my salvation.”

All of these ironclad promises have been made, dear friends, and they are invoked by our Lord, made manifest by the Holy Spirit, honored by the Father, and given to comfort us in our daily battle with the devil. 

And we can hurl this Word back into the malicious face of the vile devil, and we can speak as our Lord taught us to speak: “Be gone, Satan, for it is written!”  Amen.


on the sickness of sinto the next - and d w liars and sons of the devil, tament, a bloodye people on In the name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen. 

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