THE FIRST SUNDAY IN LENT AD 2020
TRINITY EVANGELICAL LUTHERAN CHURCH
REV. KURT E. REINHARDT
Genesis 3:1-21 Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the Lord God had made.
He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, but God said, You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’” But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths.
And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden. But the Lord God called to the man and said to him, “Where are you?” And he said, “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself.” He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?” The man said, “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate.” Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this that you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”
The Lord God said to the serpent,
“Because you have done this,
cursed are you above all livestock
and above all beasts of the field;
on your belly you shall go,
and dust you shall eat
all the days of your life.
I will put enmity between you and the woman,
and between your offspring and her offspring;
he shall bruise your head,
and you shall bruise his heel.”
To the woman he said,
“I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing;
in pain you shall bring forth children.
Your desire shall be contrary to your husband,
and he shall rule over you.”
And to Adam he said,
“Because you have listened to the voice of your wife
and have eaten of the tree
of which I commanded you,
‘You shall not eat of it,’
cursed is the ground because of you;
in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life;
thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you;
and you shall eat the plants of the field.
By the sweat of your face
you shall eat bread,
till you return to the ground,
for out of it you were taken;
for you are dust,
and to dust you shall return.”
The man called his wife's name Eve, because she was the mother of all living. And the Lord God made for Adam and for his wife garments of skins and clothed them.
Romans 5:12-19 But the free gift is not like the trespass. For if many died through one man's trespass, much more have the grace of God and the free gift by the grace of that one man Jesus Christ abounded for many. And the free gift is not like the result of that one man's sin. For the judgment following one trespass brought condemnation, but the free gift following many trespasses brought justification. For if, because of one man's trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ.
Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men. For as by the one man's disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man's obedience the many will be made righteous. Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord
Matthew 4:1-11 Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And after fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. And the tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.” But he answered, “It is written,
“‘Man shall not live by bread alone,
but by every word that comes from the mouth of God. ’”
Then the devil took him to the holy city and set him on the pinnacle of the temple and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down, for it is written,
“‘He will command his angels concerning you,’
“‘On their hands they will bear you up,
lest you strike your foot against a stone. ’”
Jesus said to him, “Again it is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test. ’” Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. And he said to him, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.” Then Jesus said to him, “Be gone, Satan! For it is written,
“‘You shall worship the Lord your God
and him only shall you serve. ’”
Then the devil left him, and behold, angels came and were ministering to him.
Get them to doubt. Push them to test. Finally, get them to reject. No, the devil’s got no new tricks up his sleeve. He’s followed the same pattern from the dawn of time. As the hustler of all hustlers, he knows his game. He’s practiced and perfected it down to a science. No, he doesn’t change it up, as much as we might like to think that he does, when we fall for it over and over again.
Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. No, no, it can’t be the same all the time, because that would be just so embarrassing for us. It’s bad enough if I believe that Revenue Canada is really sending the RCMP after me and give my visa number to the person with the heavy accent on the phone once, but to do it all over again a few days later? No, no, that just couldn’t happen, could it? Or to wire money to help my grandchild, who’s supposedly in some foreign country with a broken leg one week, only to wire more the next week for the same grandchild with a broken arm? Impossible. There’s no way that I’d fall for it. Would I?
No? Really? Then why, O why? Does Satan get one over on me over and over again with the same old hustle, that is clearly laid out in Holy Scripture and that I have seen for myself more than once before? Yes, he is the hustler of all hustlers, the first and most expert of them all. He knows his game inside and out, since he’s the one who came up with it in the first place. On top of that he’s had thousands of years to perfect his skills, practicing them on all the generations that have gone before us. No, you cannot find anyone more expert in his field, he’s got it down to a fine art. He knows how to read his mark and lead them right where he wants them to go.
Should we be surprised then, beloved, if we fall for it? No, not really. Not the first time, but what about the second, third, fourth, tenth? hundredth, thousandth time? Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. We really should and do know better, beloved. As much as we might want to protest that the devil is just too crafty and sly for us (which is indeed true), we really are left without excuse when his MO is laid out so clearly for us and we have seen and fallen for it before. Having heard on the news or from a friend about the latest phone scam, who among us wouldn’t slam the phone down the moment that the strange voice started its spiel on the other end of the line?
For goodness sakes, if we won’t even pick up the phone for numbers that we don’t recognize, and hang up on any person who hasn’t quite mastered the English language, why, O why, do we pick up and listen when it’s a 666 number and the caller has a distinct hiss to his voice? No, beloved, our own foolishness and shame cannot be hidden behind the fact that Satan is so good at his game. True though that may be, we should, ought and do, know better and so as we stand before almighty God this morning, like our first parents, there is in fact good reason to hang our heads in shame and to be just a little bit more than embarrassed for falling for it all over again. The fault is ours and ours alone.
We’re the ones who doubted God when faced with trouble or trial or need or fear. We’re the ones who put God to the test, when we did not do what He asked us to do, or did what He told us not to do. We’re the ones who rejected Him when we took matters into our own hands to take or get what we wanted, or thought that we needed, rather than simply trusting in Him to provide for everything. Yes, it was the devil taking us by the nose and leading us into false belief, despair and other great shame and vice. But it was you and I who believed falsely, despaired and