What We Deserve. Wed. After Judica, 2018

Wednesday after Judica

St. Peter Lutheran Church

Passion History: Calvary

March 21, 2018

“What We Deserve”


Iesu Iuva


In the Name of Jesus.


They lead Jesus away to Golgotha, the place of the skull, the place where they crucify Jerusalem’s criminals.  Even on this occasion a great crowd follows Him.  And is usually the case with the people who follow Jesus, they do not understand Him.  The crowd of women who follow Jesus and the North African visitor to Jerusalem, Simon, who has been made to drag Jesus’ cross, weeps.  Jesus turns His face toward them, bruised by fists, cut by thorns, and says to them, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me, but for yourselves and your children…for if they do these things with a green tree, what will happen with a dry one?”


If they do these things to the Son of God, green with everlasting life, what will happen to you, who are by nature dry wood, dead in trespasses and sins?


Jesus did not come so we could feel sorry for Him.  He did not come for our pity.  He came to save us from what we deserve.


And so, about nine in the morning, they arrive at the place of execution.  They give Him wine mixed with gall, which is a poison, which perhaps deadens the pain of what comes next.  Another evangelist tells us that there was also myrrh in the cup, which is a painkiller.  Long ago David foretold this, though the passion history does not quote him: I looked for sympathy, but there was none, and for comforters, but I found none.  They also gave me poison for my food and for my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink.  (Ps. 69: 20-21) Whether it was meant in mercy or malice, Jesus refuses the drink.


And they crucify Him.  As the nails are driven through His hands and feet, Jesus prays to His Father to forgive the ones who pierce Him.


In case we are forgetting why this is all happening, the enemies of Jesus, standing beneath His cross and mocking Him, remind us.


The people say, “Aha!  You who would destroy the temple and build it in three days, save yourself!”


Then the chief priests, scribes, and Pharisees: “He saved others; He cannot save Himself!”


And the soldiers: “If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself!” 


And finally, at the bottom of the barrel, one of the two criminals crucified with Jesus: “Are you not the Christ?  Save yourself and us!”


Saving is on everyone’s mind at the death of Jesus.  The four groups of people all tell Jesus, “Save yourself!  Then we will see that you are the Son of God and the King of the Jews!  Then you will be worthy of our allegiance!  Then our opposition toward you will change into admiration.  We will cast our vote for you.”


Jesus is taunted because all they believe that if Jesus really is the Son of God, worth loving and trusting, He should show it by saving Himself from the cross.  And the criminal adds that Jesus should also save him from the consequences of his deeds.


The world’s mind hasn’t changed at all in two thousand years.  Jesus isn’t worthy of our attention—unless He can provide us with a path to bliss and power right now in this world order.  Unless He can save us from dying, or pain, or the feeling of insignificance, poverty, and emptiness that still gnaws at us who live in the greatest material comfort history has ever known.


You can be so close and yet so far away.  It is right when people expect Jesus to save, especially here, at Golgotha.  Jesus is here to save.  He is here to save us from our sins.  And because that is why He is here, He cannot save Himself from the cross.


The other criminal grasps this as he hangs on the cross near Jesus.  Imagine hanging from your pierced hands and your pierced feet, dying slowly, in agony, like this man does.  What realization are you likely to come to then?  At that time people have a hard time thinking or concentrating on anything.  But this man realizes what most people never realize—We are getting what we deserve for what we have done.


He tells the other criminal, hanging mangled and pierced from the other tree: Look at us.  Look at where we are.  You and I are here because this is what we deserve for our lives.  We deserve to have this be the final verdict on us and all we have done in this world.  Don’t you fear God?  We’re here because we deserve this. But Jesus has done nothing wrong.  He is innocent, and suffers the same death as we do.


Can you imagine experiencing the pain and shame this criminal did and saying, This is what I deserve?  Is that what we here from parents and relatives when a kid murders classmates or shoots a cop?  No.  They say: “He was a good boy.”  And we probably would too if it were our kid.  Because we love them and cannot bear to face that the one we loved is evil.


Is it what we say when people criticize us, suggest we have failed, suggest we have done wrong?  I am getting what my deeds deserve?  No.


Of course, the criminal on the cross next to Jesus had probably beaten people, robbed them.  Left them lying bloody in a ditch.  Perhaps he murdered someone.  Probably none of us have done those things.


But we have stolen from God.  We have wasted the heartbeats and breaths he has given us to gather for ourselves, to hoard for ourselves gifts He gave to be used in thankfulness and trust in Him.  We have demanded that people treat us with honor and respect that we have no right to claim when all our lives we have thought and done what we know God has declared is worthy of death.


This is what we have deserved for our lives too.  This is how our lives ought to be summed up.  Not that we die looking back with pride and contentment.  But that we die condemned, in pain, in shame, in regret.  And after that, to be forsaken by God forever.


Otherwise, why is God’s Son, who has done nothing wrong, experiencing this agony?  Is God so unjust that He would allow this to happen to His Son, who never once displeased Him?  That He would even forsake His Son while He died cursed and mocked by men?  After His only Son had lived a life of perfect obedience to Him?  We don’t deal with our children this way even when they have turned out to be no good by human standards.  Would God deal this way with His faithful, ever-obedient Son?


No.  This man who has done nothing wrong, who is truly the Son of God, is dying to save us from what we have deserved for our deeds.


He isn’t dying to save the criminal or us from the pain with which God corrects us.  The pain of God’s correction is to spare us everlasting pain.  He lays His rod on us so that having been chastened, we become better.  So that we turn from our ways of straying like an errant sheep and direct our steps to walk with Him and His flock in the way of eternal joy.


No, He has come to save us from eternal pain, eternal shame, from an eternity of being abandoned.  From a condemnation that does not end.


This is the saving we need.  And that is what Jesus is accomplishing.  When you see Jesus’ agony and shame, you see your own.


He was right in what He prayed while these sinners pounded nails through His innocent hands: “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.”


When the people, the priests, the soldiers, the criminals all said, “Save yourself, and we will believe you are the Messiah”—and when the world demands that Jesus prove Himself, and we also demand it—they, we, do not know what we are saying.  We think that if Jesus saved Himself from the cross, He would prove that He was the Christ, the Son of God.


But if He had saved Himself, He would not have saved you.  He would have been no Christ at all if He had saved Himself.  He would have done a miracle that would leave us unsaved, still in our sins.


We too have pounded in the nails in Jesus’ body.  We have spoken and thought what we wanted, without considering the consequences, like Jesus told Peter: When you were young, you dressed youself and went where you wanted.  But when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will lead you where you do not want to go.  We went where we wanted.  We injured and insulted and hated the people Jesus bore on His own body.  And then we demanded, “Save yourself and us!  Get down from the cross and get us down too!”


Jesus did not save Himself from our hands.  He gave Himself into our hands, and while we did what we wanted, He went where we did not want to go.  He was numbered with the transgressors and died as one of the guilty, though He had done nothing wrong.


So when you come to Jesus with your life that can only come to this, to the place the criminals found themselves—rightly under God’s condemnation—and you dare to ask, “Remember me, Jesus, when you come into your kingdom,”—when you come to this church the next time asking, “Be gracious and merciful to me, a poor, sinful being,” Jesus says to you, “Today you will be with me in Paradise.”


It is a bold thing this criminal asked the man he knew was dying on a cross though He had done nothing wrong, when he himself had lived a life even other mere men condemned as evil.  “Let your innocent suffering benefit me.  Let my stealing and murder be at your expense.”  But that is what we say when we ask Jesus to forgive our sins.


And in response He says, “All my suffering is for you.”


“Today I save you by not saving myself.”


“And by the price I payed for you on Golgotha when I was forsaken by God, I declare the grace of God to you, and forgive you all your sins, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.”




Soli Deo Gloria


And Sinners Will Return to You. Wed. after Oculi.

jesus caiphas frangipaneWednesday after Oculi—Vespers

St. Peter Lutheran Church

Passion History—Trial Before Caiaphas

March 7, 2018

And Sinners Will Return to You


Iesu Iuva

In the Name of Jesus.


There is a fire in the courtyard.  Simon is trying to keep warm and trying to keep his head down.  He is also trying to keep an eye on Jesus across the courtyard without anyone noticing.  Jesus has His hands tied.  Around Him are the scribes, the elders of Israel, members of the ruling council called the Sanhedrin, and the chief priests.  Jesus is on trial.


And as Peter listens, he hears his Lord give His testimony.  You will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of God’s power and coming with the clouds of heaven.  And the high priest tears his robes.  Jesus has just referenced the seventh chapter of Daniel’s prophecy and applied it to Himself.  He says that He is the Christ, anointed by God as king over all the peoples of the earth.  That He will return as God’s judge of the men assembled in this night court.


And the assembled dignitaries of Israel give their decision—Jesus must be put to death for blasphemy.


The chief priests and the elders of the people were wrong to condemn Jesus, of course.  He had not taught people to worship a false god or prophesied falsely in God’s name.  The man standing before them was the God of Israel.


But Jesus did not deny that they had the responsibility and the right to judge.  They were God’s representatives.  It was their duty to try and condemn blasphemers and false prophets.


What was true of the chief priests and Sanhedrin is also true of this church named after the apostle who fell so badly that night.  You are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that apostle later wrote despite his great sin.  All who are baptized into Christ and believe in Him are, like Peter, priests, and share with Jesus the authority to forgive and retain sins.  To judge, despite the fact that we, like Peter, have ourselves sinned and denied Jesus.  Jesus has entrusted us with the office of the keys, that special authority that Christ has given to His Church on earth to forgive the sins of repentant sinners, but to withhold forgiveness from the unrepentant as long as they do not repent.


St. Paul writes about this, “It is actually reported among you that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that is not tolerated even among pagans, for a man has his father’s wife.  And you are arrogant!  Ought you not rather to mourn?  Let him who has done this be removed from you…  When you are assembled in the name of the Lord Jesus and my spirit is present, with the power of our Lord Jesus, you are to deliver this man to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved on the day of the Lord.”  (1 Cor. 5:1-5)


Paul means that the Church in Corinth is supposed to remove the unrepentant sinner from fellowship; pronounce that his sins are not forgiven, just as after confession the Church pronounces the forgiveness of sins by the authority of Jesus.  This is not putting him to death physically.  It is pronouncing God’s judgment that He will speak on the last day.


Paul says to do this “so that his spirit may be saved on the day of the Lord.”  By speaking it now, the unrepentant may turn and be delivered.


Most of us here relate with Peter.  We know that we are not pure.  We have denied Jesus ourselves, and so we are very hesitant to ever speak words of judgment to anyone else in the name of God.


We should be hesitant to ever judge or condemn anyone in our own name.  When we judge people on our own authority, we condemn ourselves.  But when we hold back Christ’s judgment from unrepentant sinners, we are not really showing them mercy.  We are going easy on ourselves, because we are afraid of being condemned by unbelievers as harsh and unloving.


Jesus preached, Whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the Kingdom of Heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.  For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. (Matt. 5:19-20)  About that Jesus we are saying, “I do not know Him.”

He proclaims that our righteousness must be perfect to enter the kingdom of heaven.  For that He was condemned to die on the cross as a blasphemer—for confessing that He would return with the clouds in divine majesty to judge the living and the dead.  The priests tore their robes and called it blasphemy and handed Him over to Pontius Pilate.


We do not want to stand with Jesus and proclaim His judgment.  We do not want to be His Church that proclaims His judgment and His forgiveness because we are afraid.  “I do not know Him,” we say, with Peter.




Before us is Jesus, the Son of the Blessed.  He is the holy one, the true one, who has the key of David, who opens and no one will shut, who shuts and no one opens.  (Rev. 3:7)


He preaches the judgment of God on us and through us, His Church, so that the world may be saved from eternal death.  The times have changed, people say.  The times have changed; the hour is late.  Judgment is very soon.  But the judgment of God has not changed.  The torment of hell will never change.


Jesus preaches the judgment of God so that the lost may be brought to repentance and saved from eternal death.


When the priest questioned Him, He confessed the truth—that He is the Christ, anointed by God to be king over human beings and to be priest for human beings.  He alone will rule over human beings, as their Redeemer and Savior, or as their judge.  He alone is able to reconcile God to us.  Our leniency toward sinners cannot take away their sins or our own.  Our leniency has no more validity before God than our self-righteous judgment, our unjust judgment, like the unjust judgment of the priests that Jesus was a blasphemer.


Only God’s mercy makes sin go away, and only His condemnation makes us truly guilty and condemned.


It was God who condemned Jesus as a blasphemer, and a denier.  It was His mercy that permitted His only Son to take up our sins as His own; it was His mercy that allowed Him to be condemned for them instead of us.


Only those who know that they are condemned by God are able to come to Jesus and receive God’s mercy.


Jesus was silent before the accusations they made against Him to the high priest because He was willing to bear every charge against us and the whole world and be condemned for them..  He was willing to shed His righteous blood so that we would be acquitted by God.


He was willing to be Christ for us, to be anointed as our king and priest.  He was willing to be our King and be led into hell to rescue us.


He was willing to be our priest, and to offer up Himself as the sacrifice that brought the wrath of God against us to an end.


This is why you are no longer the one who has denied Jesus countless times.  This is why you are no longer the hypocrite who has no right to speak His Word to anyone.  The judgment and the forgiveness that you speak and that I speak in His name are not spoken on our own authority, but in the authority of the Son of the Blessed One, the Christ, anointed by God, the rightful King who judges the living and the dead.  What He says, and what He authorizes and calls us to say, is not for the destruction of our family, neighbors, brothers.  It is for their salvation.  It comes from the mouth of Him who was silent as He was tried and condemned for the sins we try and fail to deal with ourselves.


The peace of God that passes understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.  Amen.


Soli Deo Gloria








The Lord of the Flies. Oculi, 2018. Luke 11.14-28

jesus legion.PNGOculi, The Third Sunday in Lent

St. Peter Lutheran Church

St. Luke 11:14-28

March 4, 2018

“The Lord of the Flies”

Iesu Iuva


In the Name of Jesus.


Think of flies, that terrible noise they make when they buzz past your ear, the sound of a whole lot of flies buzzing in a swarm.  Where do you hear this noise?  Usually you hear it when you are near something that stinks.  Public latrines with no plumbing, dog parks, the rotting corpse of an animal in the sun.  Wherever something is decaying, rotting, wherever there is excrement and filth and stench—that’s where you hear flies buzzing.


“Beelzebul” was the name of a Philistine idol.  The Jews changed one letter of his name and called him “Beelzebub” which means “lord of the flies”.  They meant that Beelzebul was the lord of excrement and the stink of decay, the lord of uncleannesss and death.  And since the Old Testament prophets associated false gods and demons, they said that Beelzebub was really the prince and lord of demons.


This is a fitting name for the devil.  Just like flies have a party and make a great buzzing whenever they find something dead and stinking, the devil and his demons delight in death and the pollution of God’s good creation.  And since human beings are the crown of God’s creation, they find no greater pleasure than when they have polluted us, degraded us, and watched us die, physically and spiritually.


But while the devil is evil, he isn’t dumb.  Satan disguises himself as an angel of light, the Bible tells us (2 Cor. 11: 14).  He doesn’t tell us that he wants to pollute us and murder us.  He convinces us that he is not the devil at all.  He convinces people that he is their best friend and God’s word is not to be trusted, that it will harm them.


Most of us can smell the reek of moral rot around us.  But it’s hard to smell yourself.  The smell of death is on us too, because we too are “by nature sinful and unclean.”  In the epistle, Paul said Be imitators of God as beloved children, and walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave Himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God (Eph. 5:1).


To God, all sin stinks.  Even the slightest putrid whiff He cannot tolerate in His nostrils.  But sexual immorality and all impurity and covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints.  Let there be no foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving. 


The demon who possessed the man in the Gospel reading took away the man’s speech.  Even to allow a useless word to pass our lips is a misuse of the power of speech.  God gave us the power of speech to speak what is true to His glory.  Even to speak idle, foolish words is a degradation for us who were created in the image of God.  It is decay and corruption.  It also is the work of the lord of the flies, along with impure thoughts and covetousness, anything less than the love that made Jesus a sweet-smelling sacrifice to God for us..


We think we can live with the foul odor that is in us, because it’s less (we think) than what we smell in others.  But we really can’t.  Meat that is only partly rotten right now is meat that will be completely rotten.  For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become guilty of all of it.  James 2:10


Jesus came to destroy the work of the devil—not to destroy the things he does that we think are really terrible, and leave the rest of it.  We live under His grace while we are not perfect, but He does not intend to let us remain imperfect.  If we have no interest in becoming perfectly holy, we have no interest in Jesus.  We are not yet done with worshipping the lord of the flies.


Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters (Luke 11: 23).  You cannot be with Jesus unless you are an enemy not only of the uncleanness outside of you, but all of it within you.


But hating the uncleanness in us is not the same as being clean.  The more intensely we pursue life and holiness, cleanness and honor, the more death and decay seems to arise in us.  We find that our hearts are not united.  Satan’s kingdom is.  Satan doesn’t drive out Satan.  But in us there appear to be two wills opposed to one another.  We sometimes wonder if we are sincere in what we say: I am heartily sorry for them and sincerely repent of them.  I renounce the devil and all his works and all his ways.  And if we are not sincere, how can we make ourselves?  Job asked, Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean?  (Job 14:4)  We have all become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment.  (Is. 64:6) 


There is another one who is not divided against Himself.  Jesus has one purpose.  The devil’s purpose is to dehumanize and bring death.  Jesus’ purpose is to restore and make people whole.  To make us alive; to make us holy as God is holy, perfect as His heavenly Father is perfect.  So that we are clean, in perfect health, sound, morally, mentally, spiritually whole.



Since Satan will not let anyone he controls go, he has to be beaten in combat.  And then, Jesus says, his armor has to be taken away, so that he can’t try to oppress people again and take back what he lost.


The devil’s armor is the fear of death.  We fear death because it is the sentence for sin.  Because of our sin we face God’s condemnation.  This is Satan’s armor that he uses to keep human beings in slavery.  Nobody can take this armor away from him unless they can take away our debt of sin.


So take to heart the good news that Jesus preaches in this Gospel.  You have heard it before, but hear it again, and keep it in your heart.


The demons obey Jesus because He is the Lord.  But He is also one of us.  He shares our flesh and blood.  But unlike us the devil has nothing to blackmail Jesus with.  There is no uncleanness, no decay or corruption in Him.  He was conceived in holiness.  He did no sin.  It couldn’t even be named of Him.  He had no unclean words, no unclean thoughts, no hatred, lust, no fear, love, or trust of anyone before God.


In this pure flesh Jesus overcame Satan and disarmed him.  He took the decay of your sinful nature, your broken and corrupted body, mind, and soul, into His own body.  The record of your debt of sin was inscribed on His body.  And it was torn up and put away.


Surely, our sicknesses He hath borne, and our pains, He hath carried them…And He is pierced for our transgressions, bruised for our iniquities, the chastisement of our peace is on Him, and by His bruise there is healing to us.  (Is. 53:4-5, YLT)


This is a strange sort of victory.  But the laceration of Jesus’ body, the anguish of His soul, and His death were His victory over Satan, where he tore away the devil’s armor and weapons.  When He was bound to the cross with nails and bound up in the grave clothes and laid in the tomb, He bound Satan.  He took away Satan’s blackmail against us, because He was condemned for us.  And His death is the healing of the uncleanness of our flesh.  Our gangrene was cured in His wounds and death.  And the cure is now at work in us who believe.  We are like people with an infection who have just begun taking an antibiotic.  He destroyed sin in His body.  As we eat His body and drink His blood by faith, His cure of sin begins to cure our flesh of its corruption.  We are not yet fully cured in ourselves, but the medicine we receive ensures that we will be.


So by faith we laugh at the devil when he tries to keep us in slavery, in filth, with the flies buzzing around us. There is now therefore no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.  (Rom. 8:1)


This is why Jesus says, Blessed are they who hear the word of God and keep it.  Blessed are those who go on hearing this word of the Gospel, and who keep it when the devil knocks on the door.  The

word of Jesus’ death is your armor.  When he tempts with false appearances and the promise of life and freedom in sin, the death of Jesus is our armor, showing us what sin really is.  It is death.  It shows us who Jesus really is.  He is the one who loved us and gave Himself as a fragrant sacrifice to God to cover the stench of our sins and make us pleasing.


When the devil reminds you of your sins and uncleanness and tempts you to believe that you are not really Christ’s, Jesus’ passion is your armor.  You keep the word of God.  You say, “I am Christ’s not because I have no sicknesses, but because Jesus carried my sickness on the cross and healed it by his wounds, even the sickness still in me.”


This is what makes a saint—not doing great things, like Mary, who bore Jesus in her womb and nursed Him.  But hearing the word of God and keeping it.  Hearing that Jesus made us clean with His suffering and crucifixion, believing it.  Not resting our faith on the healing we see in us, but on the healing that God accomplished for us in Jesus’ wounds and blood.


This is why you must keep hearing this word, why you must keep eating this bread and drinking this cup, why you must keep being absolved by the minister as by God Himself.  This is how Jesus makes you whole and clean.  This is what keeps the flies away.


The peace of God that passes understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.


Soli Deo Gloria

Peace with God. In Memoriam Janice Uffelman. Romans 5. Feb. 23, 2018

February 26, 2018 Leave a comment

cranach crucifixion 1In Memoriam + Janice Uffelman

St. Peter Lutheran Church

Romans 5:1-6 (Job 19:21-28, Luke 2:25-32)

February 23, 2018


Iesu Iuva


In the Name of Jesus.


Keith, Brad and Mayme, Rachel and Aaron,

Jan’s friends and family,

Members of her church,

Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.


The word of God for our comfort comes from the fifth chapter of Romans: Therefore, being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ…and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God (Rom. 5:1-2).


Peace is rare in this world.  In the little world of people’s hearts, there is seldom peace.  In the little world of our homes peace is often missing, or the peace is a cold war where certain topics are just not discussed.


Even those unusual people like Job and Simeon in the readings, who are visibly godly and upright, do not escape this.  Their peace is disturbed by pain or by persecution.  For some reason, not explained in the book of Job, God allowed this righteous man to be tormented, and everything but his life to be taken from him.  Job’s friends said, “Surely you must have sinned.  God is just and would not punish you for no reason.”


And in a sense they were right.  Peace is missing in this world for us because peace with God has been lost.  That is the testimony of the Bible.  The reason why there is suffering and the reason why there is death is not simply because this is a necessary part of the grand plan.  It is because the peace between human beings and God has been destroyed by sin.  That’s why we suffer.  That’s why even the righteous die.


And yet in the midst of his turmoil Job confessed a bold hope: I know that my Redeemer lives, and that at the last He will stand upon the earth.  And after my skin has been thus destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God.”  (Job 19:25-26)  After I die, says Job, my rescuer will come and bring me out of the prison of death.  He will raise me from the dead, and in my body I will see His face.


It is a brave thing to say, a bold thing to live your life by, especially when it seems as though God has abandoned you to suffer, when it appears to your eyes and everyone else’s that God is indifferent to you, or that He is against you.  Not just because it goes against what we see, but because it is a brave thing to claim about yourself.  Even if God will give eternal life to holy and righteous people, how do you know He will give it to you?


That’s not the way most people are accustomed to think anymore.  Only fundamentalists of one sort or another worry about how God will judge them.  The general idea is that God gives eternal life to everybody, as long as you do your best.  Yet we see all the time how the best we can do is not enough to bring about peace on earth, or peace in ourselves.  Our best doesn’t prevent us from disappointing or hurting the people closest to us.  Why would we think our best would be sufficient to stand the judgment of God, who is true and holy and pure?


Even the saints in the Bible recognized this clearly.  David, the man after God’s own heart, wrote, in the 130th Psalm: If you, O Lord, kept a record of sins, O Lord, who could stand?  And even Job didn’t say he would stand in his own righteousness when God judged the earth.  He said, I know that my Redeemer lives.  He was hoping for the day when the one God promised would come to redeem him not only from the world’s suffering and from death but from their cause—sin.


That day arrived.  Simeon saw it when He saw a little child brought into the temple courts.  Now, Lord, you let your servant depart in peace, for my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared before the face of all people—a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of your people Israel.  The glory of Israel is Israel’s God, the Lord.  The baby Simeon took up in his arms was not merely a human child, but the maker of heaven and earth.  He had come to make Himself known to the nations who were ignorant of God, and to redeem from death, as Job had hoped for thousands of years before.  His coming was what made Simeon able to die in peace, with confidence that God was pleased with him.


Jan might not have been Job or Simeon.  But she had the same hope, the same faith, and the same God.  She had a redeemer.  She still does.  He has taken her to Himself in peace.  And at the last He will stand upon the earth.  And then in this body she will see her God.


Jan experienced lots of things in life that disturbed her peace.  Yet she had peace with God that was not based on whether or not she felt it.  It was established by the person that Simeon held in his arms, the one who gave that saintly man peace, the one who upheld Job in his agony.


St. Paul explains: For at the right time, while we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly.  Jesus, God incarnate, became a man not simply to teach what God wants us to do, but to die for us who are powerless to fulfill His will.  To die and pay the penalty for our guilt.  To die and settle the record of our debt to God.  To die and destroy death.  To take away its power so that it does not hold us after we die in eternal death.  Instead through Jesus it must let us go into the reward of the righteous.


By His death for our sins He justifies us; He makes us to be righteous before God, since by the sacrifice of His life He atoned for our sins.  And the way this justification becomes ours is without cost, without price.  It is a free gift.  Paul says, Being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God.


This is the glory of God’s grace toward Jan and toward all who have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.  He does not keep a record of sins.  He has torn up that record, pierced it through when Jesus, His Son was pierced on the cross.


And now, believing in Him, we are righteous in God’s sight.  We stand in His favor.  We can boast and rejoice in confidence, like Job, that on the day when the Lord judges the earth, we will see His face in righteousness.


Jan had peace with God during her life.  She also took up the person that Simeon held in His arms, the Savior of the world, when she knelt at this altar.  But more importantly, He took her up.  He took her up and made her His own.  In great pity He died for her sins when she was powerless in them.  He drew over her whole life as a covering the sacrifice He made for her when she was baptized at a few months old.  Now her soul is sheltered with His presence, and her body rests awaiting the day when she, in her flesh, will see God.


Now the peace that was hers in Jesus she enjoys away from the suffering of this world.  This is not an uncertain hope, but the hope God Himself gives.  Jan’s righteousness was Jesus’ righteousness, her peace was established by His suffering for her.  May you also take hold of this peace in your grief that He offers you freely.


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


Soli Deo Gloria

Fighting With God and Winning. Reminiscere 2018. Genesis 32:22-32

February 26, 2018 Leave a comment

jacob wrestling2Reminiscere, the Second Sunday in Lent

St. Peter Lutheran Church

Genesis 32:22-32

February 25, 2018

Fighting with God and Winning

Iesu Iuva


In the Name of Jesus.


This isn’t the first time Jacob was after a blessing, but it was the first time he fought for it honestly.  This time Jacob didn’t get the blessing with the help of his mother by deceit.  And it wasn’t his old man Isaac he had to get this blessing from, who could be deceived easily because he could barely see.  He had to get this blessing from a man who could see very well, who can see in the dark.  He had to get this blessing from a stranger who attacked him in the middle of the night.  It was totally crazy for Jacob to think he would get a blessing from this unknown assailant.  But Jacob seems to know who it is, doesn’t he?


Yes, Jacob knows who is trying to pin him.  He knows the same way that Jonah knew who was in the storm that was about to sink the ship on which he had booked passage in the opposite direction from the place God had told him to go.  He knows the same way that Adam and Eve knew whose voice it was calling for them when they had eaten the fruit God commanded them not to eat.  Jacob knew who was wrestling him the same way you know, but try not to know, who it is that is taking you by the neck in your distress and trial.  When Jacob asks His name, to confirm his suspicions, he says, Why do you ask My name?  (Gen 32: 29)  You know who it is.


The blessing Jacob gets from this person in the night is a new name.  The man says, What is your name?  And he said, Jacob.  Then He said, Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel, for you have striven with God and men and have prevailed (Gen 32: 27-28).  Jacob means “he takes the heel” or “he cheats.”  He received the blessing of his father Isaac and the blessing of God through cheating and trickery.  But now he stood alone with God and fought, and he prevailed.  His new name is “He fights with God.”


That name became the name of God’s people.  God’s people strive and fight with Him.  Not the way that the Israelites did in the wilderness, complaining about the lack of food, water, doubting God’s presence, doubting God would bring them into the promised land.  That wasn’t fighting with God.  That was running away from Him.  The true Israelites, His true people, not only fight with the devil, as we heard about last week.  They strive with God and prevail over Him, like Jacob did.


The wrestling and fighting Christians do with God is called prayer.  And the way we win this wrestling match with God is we remind Him of His promises, of His Word.  That is what the name of this Sunday indicates—Reminiscere, “remember”, from the Psalm at the beginning of the service, Psalm 25, where David prays, “Remember your mercy, O Lord, and your steadfast love, for they have been from of old.  Remember not the sins of my youth or my transgressions; according to your steadfast love remember me, for the sake of your goodness, O Lord!”  (Ps. 25: 6-7)  We remind God of His promise, His covenant with us that He made with us when we were baptized, where He promised to be our God, and to remember our sins no more. Jacob told God, I will not let you go unless you bless me, he wasn’t trying to force God’s hand by the strength of his own arms.  That is impossible.  He overcame God with God’s own promise.  God cannot break His Word.  If He did that, He would stop being God.   


So now Jacob is coming back to the land in which he was born, with his wives, children, his flocks and his servants.  But now he has to meet the brother that he deceived and sinned against.  He hears that Esau is coming to meet him with 400 men.  And Jacob sends his family in two groups ahead, hoping that if Esau attacks, some of his family will be able to escape.  And while he is alone and afraid, God visits him in the night.  He attacks him.  He wrestles with him.


Some of you who are listening to me today understand exactly what it is like to be Jacob.  You know what it is like to be afraid and to be struck with calamity.  In the midst of it, you feel as though God is coming at you with your sins.  It feels as though you are being reminded of all the evil you have done, all the reasons God has to be angry with you.  If you haven’t had this experience, you certainly will—if not in this life, if not on your deathbed, then on the day when He judges the living and the dead.


But there is good news for you when this happens.  God wants you to prevail against Him in this fight.  In Jesus your Savior, you have already prevailed over God’s wrath and judgment.


We have good reason to feel as though God is judging or punishing us for our sins, that He is angry with us, when we are faced with death, dishonor, calamity.  None of these things would happen to us if we weren’t sinners.  And our sins are real.  We say we are sinners, but the seriousness of our sins seldom dawns on us.  By nature we don’t feel the gravity of sin and death, and we don’t seek God’s blessing.


And even when God has given us the gift of repentance, and we do grasp His blessing, our flesh divides us.  Our grasp is listless and weak.


So God wrestles us.  He scares us.  He wounds us.  He brings us down to the grave, so that He may raise us up, so that He may heal us.  We are healed when we grab hold of His blessing, when we grasp it with our hearts by faith.  And when we grasp His promise, our hearts overflow from our lips and we call out to God Remember your mercy!  Remember not the sins of my youth and my rebellious ways!  According to your love remember me!  I will not let you go until you bless me, as you swore to me when you baptized me!


This prayer prevails over God so that He hears and grants it.


Yet it isn’t our faith that overcomes God.  Our faith simply grasps the man who overcame God’s wrath and won His mercy and favor.


Jesus also experienced this fight with God.  In the garden of Gethsemane, He was alone.  The hour was coming when He was about to die an agonizing death.  But even worse, the hour was approaching when He would have to endure what Jacob feared but did not experience.  Jacob was afraid that when he met Esau, Esau would remember the wrong Jacob had done and kill him; Jacob was afraid that God would abandon him to Esau’s wrath.  Just as Adam was afraid when he heard God call for him, and when he came out to meet him he must have been thinking “It’s all over.”  Just as Jonah knew that God was in the storm that hit the ship.  He told the sailors to throw him into the sea and the storm would stop.  He must have expected that when they did that the depths of the ocean would be the gate through which he entered the depths of hell.


But Adam instead heard the promise of the Messiah.  Jonah was saved by a great fish that swallowed him.  And Jacob’s brother Esau met him and forgave him.


But Jesus was not saved.  He went into the garden and saw the end approaching and began to be so sorrowful that He said to His disciples, My soul is greatly troubled, even to death.  Stay here and watch with me. But his disciples did not watch.  They slept, while Jesus prayed in agony, and his sweat mingled with blood as He wrestled with God.


What did He pray?  Father, if you are willing, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless not My will, but Thine be done.


But the Father was not willing.  Jesus had to drain the cup of God’s wrath.  The wrath and judgment of God that we fear fell on Him.  Not just whips fell on his back and left stripe after stripe; not just nails piercing his hands and His feet, and all the agony of crucifixion.  But God turned away His face from His Son.  He abandoned Him.


That is what we really fear, or what we really should fear—that God forsakes us for our sins.


But He does not, even though we have returned to our sins like a dog to vomit.  When we wrestle with Him to fulfill His promises, to give us His Spirit, to let His Word go forth, to keep us in the faith, to forgive us, to deliver us from temptation and give us eternal life—He is overcome by us.  Because He has been overcome by His Son, who took away His wrath and judgment and the record of our sins.


God comes to you in the night and wrestles with you so that you may take hold of Jesus, who overcame His Father’s anger against human sin and won His heart to human beings.


In Jesus your Savior, you have already prevailed over God’s wrath and judgment.  Be bold when God comes to wrestle you.  Be a fighter.  Strive together with Jesus and claim God’s mercy for you and His church and His world.


The peace of God that passes understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.  Amen.


Soli Deo Gloria

Jesus Seeks God and You. Wednesday After Invocabit, 2018.

February 21, 2018 Leave a comment

last supper godefroy.PNGVespers—Wednesday after Invocabit

St. Peter Lutheran Church

Passion History—The Last Supper

February 21, 2018

Jesus Seeks God and You


Iesu Iuva


In the name of Jesus.


What then?  Are we Jews any better off?  No, not at all.  For we have already charged that all, both Jews and Gentiles, are under sin, as it is written: None is righteous, no not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God.  Rom. 3:9-11


No one seeks after God, says St. Paul.


Not even one.


The priests are seeking to arrest and kill Jesus in secret.


Judas is seeking to betray Him for money.


And the disciples are seeking to be the greatest.


Who is seeking God?


What is Jesus seeking?  “You know that in two days is the Passover, and the Son of Man will be delivered up to be crucified.” 


Only Jesus is seeking God.  Jesus is the only one in this story seeking to do the will of God.  And His Father’s will is that He be nailed to a cross.


Lent began as a time for catechumens to prepare to be baptized on Easter.  They would be baptized into Jesus’ death.  So they had Jesus’ passion and His cross before their eyes.  And during Lent we are called to return to our baptism, to the death and life given to us there.  But to return to Baptism and to the Triune God who claimed us in it is to seek out the cross and its death, not metaphorically, but in stark reality.


Maybe you don’t like the idea of dying on a cross.  Maybe you would like to believe it’s not true that Christianity is like this.


St. Paul, quoting the psalm of David, says, “there is no one who seeks God, not even one.”  We seek the approval of the sinful world.  We seek to satisfy the desires of our flesh, to scratch our itch for praise and respect, pleasure and comfort. But no one can serve two masters.  The master we have by nature, whom we seek to please, is sin.


But Jesus our Lord seeks God, and in seeking God He also seeks us.  He knows that on this Passover in Jerusalem He will be the lamb who is sacrificed. But He is not running away.  He goes into Jerusalem, tells His disciples to prepare the feast, and then, in the course of the meal, gives them His body and His blood to eat and to drink.  He desires this.  I have earnestly longed to eat this Passover with you before I suffer.


At the Jordan River His cousin John argued with Jesus that Jesus should be baptizing him and not the other way around.  Jesus should not be in the lower position, but the higher.  But John accepted Jesus’ word that it was necessary for Him to accomplish all righteousness.  So John plunged him beneath the water in which thousands upon thousands of people had been plunged before Him, to be forgiven their cursing, unbelief, lying, their innumerable sins against God.  And Jesus went down into the water with them, though He had committed no sin and knew no sin.  He went down into the water in which others left their sins and took them up.  He was numbered with the transgressors.


Then heaven opened to Him.  The Holy Spirit came down on Him.  The Father said, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.  How strange that the Father was pleased with His beloved Son when He was made sin for us.  By becoming sin for us, Jesus was seeking God.


Seeking God for us who could not seek Him ourselves.  A sinner who tried to come to God while he is still in his sins would only find an angry God, a consuming fire.  He would not only find heaven closed.  He would find utter destruction, eternal pain.  That’s why no one seeks God.  We run instead, like Adam at the sound of God’s footsteps as he and Eve were finishing putting on their fig leaves.


Our road back to God is a road Jesus alone can walk.  He must pave this road with His bruises and His blood.  He alone is able to bear the punishment for our sins against God.  He alone is able to endure the stripes justice requires for our refusing to hear Him.  The times we knew what His will was and rejected it.  The sins we committed in carelessness.  The impurity and disobedience that we did not choose but which is born in us.  All these have a price, and Jesus must pay it in agony.  This is why Jesus tells Peter, Where I am going you cannot follow Me now, but you will follow after.


Everyone will follow Jesus into death.  That is certain.  But to follow Jesus to death, so that we can say with him, “Now I am glorified, and God is glorified in me”—that is not something we have the power to will.


No, He must give us a share in Him. He must serve us.  He must gird Himself like a servant and wash our feet.


Just like John the Baptist had done before Him, Peter resisted being served by Jesus.  You can understand why.  How demeaning it seems for Jesus—especially on the night of His death!—to behave like a servant instead of the Lord.  But He has much lowlier service He must do for us.


He must be handed over for our sins and rejected.  He must be tried and sentenced for the evil we have done, and give His life to pay for our sins.  He must even give His flesh to be our food and His blood to be our drink.


No one seeks after God, Paul said.  He meant no one born with Adam’s fallen flesh.


But Jesus, conceived by the Holy Spirit of the virgin, does seek God with His whole heart.  And with His whole, pure heart, He seeks God for you.  And with His whole heart He seeks you for God.


Knowing full well all your unfaithfulness, knowing it before it happened, knowing it intimately, better than you do, because He paid for it in stripes, in tears, in agony of soul.  See how He tells His disciples today: You are they who have continued with Me in My trials, and I appoint you a kingdom.  He knows full well they are about to abandon Him in His greatest trial, yet He speaks to them this way!  Because He seeks them, and He carries them and all their unfaithfulness as His own, and pays for it in full.  That is how the disciples are counted faithful.  That is how they came to sit on thrones with Him.


If you are to seek God’s glory and share in it, You must be served by this man.  You must have a part in Him, a share in His flesh.  You must be born anew of Him who does seek God, since in the flesh you do not and cannot.


And He has given you a share in Him.  He has baptized you with His Baptism.  You were washed with the water into which He plunged, and joined with Him who made full payment for your sins.  You seek God not by the law, but through faith in Jesus, the Son of God, who gave Himself as your servant, to pay for your sins.  And He serves you still.  He gives His very body that endured the cross to you to eat.  He places the cup of His blood of the new testament to your lips, pledging that you inherit the free forgiveness of your sins through His death.


You have a share, a part in Him.  You have communion with Him through the Sacrament of His death.  Through your participation in Him you are righteous, and seek God, and find His approval.


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


You Will Trample the Lion and the Dragon. Invocabit 2018.

February 20, 2018 Leave a comment

serpent trampledInvocabit—The First Sunday in Lent

St. Peter Lutheran Church

St. Matthew 4:1-11

February 18, 2018

You Will Trample the Lion and the Dragon


Iesu Iuva


You really had a lot of nerve. Now you’re surprised that you have enemies who are waiting for you to fall.  You tell yourself that if they just knew how good your intentions are they wouldn’t be angry.  But you forget what you stood up and claimed in front of the altar of God.  Twice, most of you.


Do you renounce the devil?  Do you renounce all his works?  Do you renounce all his ways?  Do you believe in the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit?  Do you desire to be baptized?  And the second time they asked, “Do you acknowledge the gifts God gave you in your baptism?”  And you said, “Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes.”


You were the one with the nerve to claim to be a son of God.  You were the one who claimed to be free from the devil’s power and no longer destined for the eternal fire prepared for him and all who follow him.


So now he tests you, like a thousand degree furnace tests a bar of metal.  And the whole world of people that has given their allegiance to Satan tests you too.  Let’s see if you’re really a son of God, or if you’re really just like us and just putting on airs.


“To tempt” in the biblical sense is “to test,” the way you might test a car on empty highway with no police around.  With the pedal to the floor.  To see what it can do, what it can take, how it will hold up under stress.


The world tests you because it wants to prove to itself that God’s Word is not true; it wants to prove that it’s not going to be judged.  Your flesh tempts you because it doesn’t want to be affixed to the cross, pinned there, unable to break free, until it suffocates.


And the devil tests you.  He never sleeps.  He never stops.  He is a lion hunting gazelles.  When he isn’t pouncing on the unwary, he stalks.  He hides in the grass, motionless, watching.


Then, suddenly, he’s with you.  Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, Jesus told Peter on the night of His arrest (Luke 22:31).  Now he has you in his sieve and shakes you to find out if there is any wheat with the chaff, if you are a son of God.


And what are the results of this testing, this temptation?  What remains of you after the lion has pounced on you?  Did you, like Samson, tear the lion in pieces (Judges 14) by the power of the Holy Spirit?  Or like the boy David, did you catch him by his beard and strike him and kill him (1 Sam. 17:35)?  Did you overcome the Philistine giant?  Did you show yourself to be a son of the Most High?


No.  No you did not.  You were tested in your claim to be a son of God, and you were found wanting.  The rooster crowed.


Man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord. (Deut. 8:3)  A son of God knows this and is free.  A son of God knows that life is more than food and the body is more than clothing (Matt. 6:25).  He serves God, not earthly possessions.  He trusts in God, not in food, drink, house, clothes, cars, money.


But when the devil tested to see whether you would trust God when the cupboard was bare, you bowed down to your stomach.  You acted like a slave, not a king, not a son of God.  You were willing to be unfaithful to the Lord whose name you bear if it seemed like your income was threatened, like a comfortable life would be denied you or your children.


And other times, you acted as if you were more spiritual than God.  Your Father called you and appointed you to a place in His kingdom, to serve certain people.  [But when the devil tempted you not to fulfill your calling and use the means He had given you to carry it out, you liked the devil’s way better.  You neglected the Word and the Sacraments and said, God can give Me His Spirit another way.  You said, “God will make His Word bear fruit,” and you neglected to work to spread that Word, to teach it diligently to your children, to do everything in your power to not cause people to stumble over His Word.]


And when your Lord told you He must be rejected and killed in Jerusalem, and then rise from the dead, and when He told you that you also would have to be rejected by the world and die, you didn’t listen.  You thought He was being metaphorical.  He is the Son of God, and sons of God don’t get killed by the world.  They conquer the world.


So Satan whispered to you every time the world opposed you for Christ’s sake, every time the world opposed another Christian who faithfully confessed Jesus and His Word, he whispered, “The world is not being conquered.  You must be doing it wrong.”  And you listened to Satan.  You wanted to gain the world—for Jesus, of course—so you lived your whole life trying to never offend anyone with Jesus’ Word.  All this I will give you if you will fall down and prostrate yourself before me, said the adversary Satan to Jesus.  But this hasn’t turned out to be true for the Christian Church in our country.  We haven’t gained the whole world. The world just walks all over us.  By agreeing not to offend anyone in Jesus’ name, you have bent the knee to the prince of this world, in the hopes that he would give the world to you.


Instead, he only laughs at you.  You have been tested, and you have failed the test.  There are so many circumstances under which you will abandon your God.  But a true son of God, in whom God is well-pleased, trusts God and never departs from Him.  That is why God counts him worthy to be called His Son and to inherit eternal life with Him.


The one who conquers the devil and his tests will have this heritage, and I will be his God and he will be my son.  But as for the cowardly, the unbelieving, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.  (Rev. 21: 7-8)


A son of God conquers the devil and does not depart from God.  And the devil’s tests reveal that you are not by nature a son of God.  Your inclination is to depart from God, like Adam your father, like Eve your mother, like the devil himself.


When Jesus was led into the desert by the Holy Spirit, he was wet baptism in the Jordan River.  When He was baptized, a voice came from heaven: This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased (Mt. 3:17).  How many of you who are fathers have ever felt that way when you looked at your son?  How many of you children ever felt your father’s approval that way, that your Father was well-pleased with you?


But then Jesus was led by the Holy Spirit to be tested by the devil.  At the end of forty days and forty nights of fasting, when Jesus was weak with hunger, the lion pounced on Him.  Just like you are tempted as a baptized Christian.  He tested Jesus to see whether he would still be the Son of God when he was famished and weak, or whether he would break as every human being had in thousands of years.


But unlike us, Jesus passed the tests.  Jesus believed the Word that had been spoken about Him from heaven, that He is the well-pleasing, beloved Son of God.  And the devil’s tests only proved Him to be God’s Son.  He did not trade in His inheritance for a few loaves of stones made into bread, but was fed by the words that came from the Lord’s mouth.  Those same words came from His mouth in the time of temptation, and they defended Him.  He did not test God to prove that He was His Son by doing an unnecessary miracle.  He patiently held to God’s Word as His rock while the howling storm of temptation tried to pull Him away.


And when the devil showed Him all the kingdoms of the earth and their glory, and promised to give Him the world in an easier way, Jesus despised both the devil and the glory of the world.  A king does not pay homage to His slaves, much less to his enemies.  A Son of God does not fall down and worship the devil.  He trusts in the Lord, God His Father, and seeks the glory of His Kingdom.


Jesus did not seek that glory for Himself.  He was seeking it for the people of the kingdoms of the earth, who are held under Satan’s power and deceived by his lies.  Jesus knew that Satan must be overcome if people are to inherit the kingdom of God and be His sons.


So that is what He came to do.  When He was baptized with John’s baptism of repentance, Jesus was announcing Himself to be a sinner.  Since Jesus was not a sinner, and since it would be a lie to receive a baptism of repentance if you have no sin, what was Jesus doing?  He was receiving sin, becoming sin, so that He might take it away, pay for the sins of all people, and make them sons of God.


When the devil presented him with a different way to reign over the earth, Jesus spoke to the devil like he was a dog or a slave: Get out, Satan.  Our Lord was not afraid of Satan, because Satan, although he is stronger than human beings is nothing compared to God.  And God has now become a human being.


Jesus knew what this meant.  It meant warfare with Satan.  It meant a life of suffering.  It meant hatred from the world, and the worst death it could give Him.  It meant enduring God’s condemnation and the suffering we have earned for turning away from God, falling from God.


But He despised the devil and embraced the war.  He did it to conquer Satan, to break His back.  At His temptation He proved Himself to be the Son of God.  But He also showed Himself to be our conqueror, our victor.  He was victorious over Satan’s temptations for us.  And when He tasted death and God’s wrath on the cross, He entered into battle with all our falls and sins and destroyed them too.


Jesus is our victory over Satan.  None of your falls excludes you from being God’s Son, because the well-beloved Son of God destroyed them on the cross.  Your falls are not your own.  God says they have passed away, departed.  They lie in the grave with Jesus, and you have emerged from the grave with Jesus.  And when sin shows up, and you fail to conquer the devil, you plunge them into Jesus’ wounds, into His grave, into the waters in which you died with Him.  And you come out with Him again, a Son of God and a conqueror.


Because Jesus has conquered Satan, here at His temptation and finally at the cross, you will also conquer him.  You will tread on the lion and the cobra.  You will walk on Satan’s back, as he and the world have walked on yours.  You will overcome his temptations through faith in the Son of God.


Not that you can do it through hard work and positive thinking.  Not you, but Christ who lives in you will do it, because He already has destroyed the devil’s power.  He has taken away your sin and made it His own.


He will stand with you when you are tempted, with great pity.  For we do not have a high priest [ch. 5:2; Isa. 53:3]who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been [See ver. 14 above]tempted as we are, ch. 9:28; 1 Pet. 2:22; 1 John 3:5; [ch. 7:26; John 8:46; 14:30]yet without sin. (Hebrews 2:15).  Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need (Heb. 2:16). 


Let us draw near to our Lord’s altar, where He will give us mercy, His body and blood that have removed the record of our falls and have made us sons of God and more than conquerors through Him that loved us.  Let us draw near to Him and remember His bitter suffering and death for our sins at His table.  Then let us go forth as the sons of God we are, ready to fight and conquer the devil, the world, and our flesh.


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

But for us fights the Valiant One, Whom God Himself elected.

Ask ye, who is this?  Jesus Christ it is,

Of Sabaoth Lord,  And there’s none other God.

He holds the field forever. 


The peace of God that passes understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.  Amen.


Soli Deo Gloria





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