Pastor Jeremy Husby delivers a sermon entitled “If You Are Children of God….” based on Luke 4-1-13 at Peace Lutheran Church in Hartford, Wisconsin.
Delivered on Sunday, March 10, 2019
At his baptism in the River Jordan, marked by the Father’s voice from above and the Spirit descending in the form of a dove, Jesus was anointed and appointed to carry out the work of being your Savior.
The Gospel for today shows that his first steps as your Savior took him into the wilderness. You see, unlike some science fiction movie or television show where the hero travels back in time to right what once went wrong, Jesus went there, not to change what happened in the past, but to change the future for all people that have committed sins in the past.
Where, in the past, did it first go wrong? It wasn’t one of the readings appointed for today, but you probably know it so well that you don’t have to have it read. In the Garden of Eden, after God created a perfect world, and Eve and Adam to care for it, the serpent slithered his way in to ruin everything with one little question: Did God really say…?
Eve was tempted and fell for it. Her husband, who was with her, neglected his headship principle and allowed her to be tempted. Sin happened and, ever since then, temptation and sin have continued to be a regular part of everyday life.
So, in order to change the future for all those who deal with temptation and sin on a daily basis, including you and me, Jesus worked to change the future by facing those temptations himself. Only, in order to change that future, Jesus would have to endure them without falling into sin, himself. And that, as you heard in the Gospel for today, is just what Jesus did.
It is interesting to note, though, that as Jesus faced the temptations of the Devil, out in that wilderness, the temptations of the Devil were really the same that Eve and Adam faced, and the same that he tries to use against you and me as well.
Oh, sure, the wording is somewhat different, but the goal of Satan’s sneaky saying is the same. The goal wasn’t necessarily to get Eve to eat the apple, or whatever fruit it was. Instead, the serpent was focused on getting her and her husband to doubt the Word of God. Listen again to the Devil’s words to Jesus and note that his ultimate goal really didn’t have anything to do with bread.
If you are the Son of God, tell this stone to become bread. He didn’t come right out and say, “Did God really say…,” but the effect is the same. He just used a little more logic. He knew that Jesus knew what God did and did not say—in fact, he was counting on it. He knew that Jesus is the Son of God and he knew what God says about those who are his children; how he will care for them and provide not only for their spiritual needs, but even for their physical needs. And so, if that is true, if you are the Son of God, and, therefore, God cares for you and provides for you, then why are you hungry? God must be lying to you.
Does that sound a little more like the temptations that the ancient serpent spews out toward you?
He knows that you are children of God. If you weren’t, he wouldn’t spend so much time trying to convince you otherwise. He knows that you know what God has said about caring for and providing for his children. He’s counting on it. That’s why and when he attacks. He waits for his opportune time and asks you, if you are children of God, then why doesn’t your God act like it?
He says he will provide, but he doesn’t. You don’t even have to look at all the starving and homeless out there in the rest of the world. Look at all that he hasn’t provided for you. Where is the soul mate he promised to pair you up with? Where are the Christian friends he placed in your life to help pick you up when you are down and to celebrate with over your bounty of blessings? Where is the dependable vehicle, the house that doesn’t need a new roof or properly working pipes, the job that gives you an opportunity to use your spiritual gifts, and the health you need to enjoy any of those things?
He says he loves you, but he doesn’t show it. You put in your hours, week after week, worshipping him, here in this building and even in your own home. You go to him, but when was the last time he came to you? Doesn’t he see how, even though you may be surrounded by so many people, you are so lonely? The real reason there’s only one set of footprints in the sand is because you have been walking in your own wilderness, without anyone who understands what you’re going through.
You are children of God. And, for the most part, you have been doing your part. When is he gonna start holding up his end of the bargain? You have seen what God really says, but, quite obviously, he lies. You can’t trust him or his Word.
When those temptations came to Jesus, he was able to refute them. How? Well, not surprisingly, he went straight to God’s Word for the answers. Notice, when the temptations came, Jesus didn’t point to examples from his own live to prove how God had been working in his life. He wasn’t concerned about the past. He went to the promises God made and put his faith in them. And, in so doing, was able to change the future for you and for me.
When Satan slithers his way into your wilderness to tempt you, if you really thought about it, you could probably point to periods in your life where God has, indeed, kept the promises he made to you. But, as Jesus clearly shows in enduring and overcoming these temptations, the solution to success against Satan isn’t found in producing evidence from your past experience that he is wrong. Rather, it is found in faith.
Faith is being sure of what you hope for and certain of what you do not see. Faith is saying to Satan, I don’t care what you say. I don’t care what points you make. I don’t care how convincing of an argument you make, I put my faith in my God because he tells me to—even if it might mean that I am going against every natural recourse and inclination my mind can come up with.
And that faith, friends, is what God says overcomes the temptations of the Devil. Faith trusts that God is not a liar. Faith trusts in his Word which tells you that because Jesus didn’t fall for any of the Devil’s temptations, he lived a perfect life and that he lived that life in place of the imperfect one that you have lived. Faith trusts the Word which promises to you that when Jesus sacrificed that perfect life, he did so to pay the atonement price that curbed that wrath of God that he rightly held against you because of your sin. Faith trusts the Word of God that says that even though death seems like the final enemy that no sinful human being on this earth has ever overcome, your death will be the entrance to life eternal because Jesus defeated death in his own resurrection and he shares the spoils with you.
Jesus is the Son of God, anointed and appointed to be your Savior. You are children of God, protected and cared for by your God. Don’t listen to the lies that Satan spews at you. Stop looking at the past and what your God has or hasn’t done for you lately. Keep your eyes on the prize. Focus on the future your Jesus has won for you. If you are children of God, do what his children do. Put your faith in the promises that your God has made and believe that he will keep them for you. Amen.