THE 1ST SUNDAY IN LENT AD 2019
TRINITY EVANGELICAL LUTHERAN CHURCH
REV. KURT E. REINHARDT
"When you come into the land that the Lord your God is giving you for an inheritance and have taken possession of it and live in it,  you shall take some of the first of all the fruit of the ground, which you harvest from your land that the Lord your God is giving you, and you shall put it in a basket, and you shall go to the place that the Lord your God will choose, to make his name to dwell there.  And you shall go to the priest who is in office at that time and say to him, 'I declare today to the Lord your God that I have come into the land that the Lord swore to our fathers to give us.'  Then the priest shall take the basket from your hand and set it down before the altar of the Lord your God.
 "And you shall make response before the Lord your God, 'A wandering Aramean was my father. And he went down into Egypt and sojourned there, few in number, and there he became a nation, great, mighty, and populous.  And the Egyptians treated us harshly and humiliated us and laid on us hard labor.  Then we cried to the Lord, the God of our fathers, and the Lord heard our voice and saw our affliction, our toil, and our oppression.  And the Lord brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm, with great deeds of terror, with signs and wonders.  And he brought us into this place and gave us this land, a land flowing with milk and honey.  And behold, now I bring the first of the fruit of the ground, which you, O Lord, have given me.' And you shall set it down before the Lord your God and worship before the Lord your God.  And you shall rejoice in all the good that the Lord your God has given to you and to your house, you, and the Levite, and the sojourner who is among you.
"The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart" (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim);  because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.  For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.  For the Scripture says, "Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame."  For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him.  For "everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved."
And Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness  for forty days, being tempted by the devil. And he ate nothing during those days. And when they were ended, he was hungry.  The devil said to him, "If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread."  And Jesus answered him, "It is written, 'Man shall not live by bread alone.' "  And the devil took him up and showed him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time,  and said to him, "To you I will give all this authority and their glory, for it has been delivered to me, and I give it to whom I will.  If you, then, will worship me, it will all be yours."  And Jesus answered him, "It is written,
" 'You shall worship the Lord your God,
and him only shall you serve.' "
 And he took him to Jerusalem and set him on the pinnacle of the temple and said to him, "If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here,  for it is written,
" 'He will command his angels concerning you,
to guard you,'
" 'On their hands they will bear you up,
lest you strike your foot against a stone.' "
 And Jesus answered him, "It is said, 'You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.' "  And when the devil had ended every temptation, he departed from him until an opportune time.
Hangry. Yes, it’s a thing. Parents knew that it was a thing, long before the people “in the know” coined the term and made something, that always was a something, into an official “thing”. It’s a clever term. Combine the words hungry with angry and you get what you’re 2 year old, or for that matter 22, 42, 62, 82 year old is like, when their tummy is empty and they start acting out because of it. Yes, even grown ups, can lose all patience with themselves, and of course with others, when their blood sugar drops, or so the all knowing knowers, who are in the know, say.
Hangry that’s what they call it. Skip a meal or two and things can get unpleasant. And so, imagine skipping 40 days worth of meals. Yea, I know a few people that I wouldn’t want to be around if they missed that many meals, the first and foremost of whom would be me. No, I wouldn’t have any patience left for myself, let alone anyone as irritating and bothersome as Satan. Snappy? yes, and little testy too. Both barrels, yes, he’d get that from me, those nearest and dearest to me have suffered as much, under far less trying circumstances.
But not Jesus, beloved, No, not Jesus, as hungry as He was, and have no doubts about it, He was hungry - desperately hungry. Although He was truly God in every way, He had a belly no different from yours and mine. Although His was the very hand that opens up to satisfy the desires of every living thing, He knew what it was to need to eat. He had real blood that needed sugar in it no different from yours or mine. It was Divine blood - God’s blood - having the life of the second person of the Trinity in it - but it was real human blood nonetheless.
A piece of cake? No, going hungry for forty days was far from that for Jesus. Weak? Indeed. As weak as each one of us would be without anything to feed our flesh after that amount time. This alone should move each of us to humble awe at what our God did for our sake. The Lord of heaven and earth stands there in the barren wasteland of the wilderness embracing weakness to its deepest depths for us. Some of us know just how hard it can be to not be able to do what we used to do, because of the weakness that comes with age or sickness, we perhaps, can just begin to imagine what the almighty Son of God faced, when He became as weak as He did in that dessert.
Easy? No, it was not easy for the Son of God who had become man. It was as hard as it would be for any one of us, because He had become like us in every way, except without sin. This is put beyond all question, as He faces Satan down in the wilderness. Almighty? Yes, Jesus is that. The Divine light pouring out of Him last Sunday made that perfectly clear. But when the old evil foe comes calling, He lays all that power to the side. With His belly as empty as it can get and blood sugar as low as it can be, He still does not lash out against Him, blasting Him out of the way with a surge of Divine power. No, patiently He faces him down, using nothing but the weapon, power and strength that we have - the Word of God.
Overthrow him? Yes, Jesus overthrows him in our weakness, using only that one weapon, which shows us that it is possible for us. No, God has not left us without defence against the great dragon, that ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan. The smallest word of God’s can and does fell Him, as it does with the word “is” when he tries to deceive us into believing that the bread in the Lord’s Supper is not the true body of Christ, which by the way is the one little word Luther is talking about in “A Mighty Fortress is Our God”.
Satan is a formidable foe, indeed, but not an unconquerable one. Our dear Father in Heaven sets no impossible trials for His children. We fall and fail because of our sin and our sin alone … sin that fails or refuses to hear and take up the Word of God, and the Word of God alone, in the midst of temptation, which leaves us wide open to attack and doomed to failure. Facing Satan in your own strength is pure folly, beloved, but armed with the Word of the Lord, you are no different than young David standing in that Word, armed only with his sling before Goliath. Sadly though, the wisdom of the young shepherd boy is often far from us.
Why else would we chase after the things of this world? Living for stuff that will only rust and turn to dust? We know that man does not live by bread alone, and yet, Satan seems to have little trouble in making earthly bread uppermost in our minds in our day to day lives. At times we can even have little time for the Bread of Heaven, because we’re too busy trying to make our daily bread. If the Word of God were front and centre for us, the pleasures of the flesh would not, and could not, derail our lives from the healthy enjoyment of God’s good gifts, into that terrible cycle of guilt, gorging and more guilt.
If the Word of God dwelt richly in our minds, we would not, and could not, bow the knee to the world and her prince, no matter what she offered to give us, or take from us. Compromise? No, we could not compromise with them, not even to be liked, accepted or praised. No, we could not even do it to avoid being hated, rejected and condemned. Even as Canadians, we would be willing to be thought of as “Not Nice” without even apologizing for it, rather than give an inch of ground on one of God’s Words. Our heads would not tilt or our knees bend a degree to any other than the Lord our God for anyone or anything.
If God’s promises to us were rooted deep in our hearts, Satan would have an impossible task in trying to get us to question or doubt God’s love and care for us. Even in the face of our greatest trials or greatest failures, our faith would remain unshaken in our dear Father in heaven. We would feel no need to test or try Him, because we would know Him to be true and sure. Worry, care and anxiety? No, Satan would not be able to plant those in our hearts, because God’s promises would have fortified our hearts against them. Those promises would repel with ease their every assault against us.
If only, if only indeed! But no, this is not the way for poor sinners like you and me. Falling and failing in temptation, pushovers for Satan and his lies, that’s you and that’s me time and again. The Word of God is ever close at hand for us, but so often we fail to take it in hand, and so the falling and the failing. It’s been that way ever since Eden, when Adam and Eve in the midst of paradise, with every need and hunger fully satisfied, laid aside that Word and faced the old liar without it. Our dear Father in heaven knew and knows this about us, beloved, which why, He in mercy and out of the greatest of love, gave His only begotten Son to save us.
It is because the Son knew this about you, that He went into the wilderness to be tempted by Satan for forty days in your weakness. He went there to succeed in every way that Adam failed and you continue to fail. He not only patiently puts up with Satan for those long hard days, but limiting Himself to the Word, and the Word alone, He overcomes him for you, and then goes on to suffer and die for all the times that you have fallen and failed. Having resisted him in every way in your weakness, the almighty One gives Himself into Satan’s power to set you free from it. He fasts in the wilderness and thirsts on the cross so that you may feast in paradise.
A foretaste of that feast is spread out for you here at the altar today. The fullness of all that Christ did for you … won for you … He gives out to you here with the bread of His body and the wine of His blood, setting you free with His forgiveness and sharing His eternal life with you. With each bite and sip, the Lord is here to put beyond all question for you the truth, that all that He did counts for you, that standing firm in that truth, you too might resist the Devil when he comes calling.
Hangry? Yes, it might be a thing, but hungry? No, there is no need to go hungry, beloved, not with the food that truly satisfies, as none other can, freely spread out before you. And so come and eat and drink and be at peace, now and forever. Amen.