Sunday, April 8, 2018

Where Was Thomas?

QUASIDMODO GENITI
SECOND SUNDAY OF EASTER
APRIL 8, 2018
ST. JOHN 20:25
Where Was Thomas?
In the name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Where was Thomas on Easter evening? The instinct of the other ten was to stay together, at the very least, for the illusion of safety. (It's unlikely that one locked door and ten non-soldiers would keep out any brutes sent by the authorities.) On the other hand, at best, they were together praying and keeping watch to see what the day would bring. They had heard strange reports. I would think a safe guess would be that Thomas had the rumors, too. Whatever the exact reasons, and whatever they had exactly heard, these ten did it together, as the Church, which is exactly what they were.
Except for Thomas, who was conspicuously absent.
We do not know where he was. We do not know why he wasn't there in the upper room. But based on his reaction to the wonderful news that Jesus was alive and that His mercy overflowed to His apostles and to His Church, it makes me wonder if he wasn't very purposely staying away from the Church on that first Easter Sunday:
ST. JOHN 20:25 So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord!” But he said to them, “Unless I see the nail marks in His hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe it.” NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION 1984
Couple of things. First of all, these were men, hopefully some of them friends, who were all telling him the same thing: our Lord is risen. He is not dead. He breathed on us. He is alive. One friend says this, then perhaps he is seeing things. But the testimony of two or three, then even Moses declares this to be true. And ten!
Secondly, this wasn't unexpected. It was impossible, but it wasn't unexpected. Christ had predicted His dying and rising more than once.
ST. LUKE 18:31–34 Jesus took the Twelve aside and told them, “We are going up to Jerusalem, and everything that is written by the prophets about the Son of Man will be fulfilled. He will be delivered over to the Gentiles. They will mock Him, insult Him and spit on Him; they will flog Him and kill Him. On the third day He will rise again.” The disciples did not understand any of this. Its meaning was hidden from them, and they did not know what He was talking about. NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION 1984
The end of this passage is important for our Lord's Easter appearances: His miraculous body convinced His apostles that He was alive, but the words of peace that He spoke from His mouth—once dead and now filled with life—caused them to believe that His death and rising was for them. Miracles do not create faith; only the Word of God does that.
Yet, for a week, Thomas is not believing. He had been missing from that first Easter celebration. And I think it because he was done. Thomas: “It was a good run. I've seen some amazing things. Jesus was very kind and very smart. But it's over. My life hasn't improved in any tangible way. All I can add to resume is: “3 years—religious disciple.” And Jesus never even gave me the secret recipe for the best wine ever. So, hey, it was a good run, and maybe I'll see you around, but obviously Jesus raised some other people to life, but if Jesus dies, that's it. So take care, guys.”
My guess is based on that strong denial of the eyewitness testimony. A more logical reaction would be to a least give some room to doubt your doubts. If all his associates are saying that Jesus is risen, either they're trying prank him or they are telling him the truth. Yet he is very determined to ignore what they are saying, because he wants to move on.
But Jesus won't let him. For a week His disciples keep on telling Thomas who they saw. The details don't change. The truth remains and they keep pointing it out. To Thomas. I have no record from Scripture of this, but based on the fact that Thomas shows up the next Sunday testifies to their persistent efforts to get him to church.
And there he is that Sunday. And then there He is. And then He speaks. And then Thomas with faith created by His words and His Spirit, confesses what is true: Christ is risen.
I hope you are encouraged by Thomas to persist in your efforts to bring Jesus to skeptics. And specifically the Christ who dies and rises. Confront your Thomas—gently or firmly, as needed—with our risen Lord. Bodily and physically risen.
And if you are Thomas, if you struggle with the central historic fact of Christ's death and resurrection, then you're in the right place, where you will hear the testimony of Christ.
He suffered. He was dead. He was buried.
The impossible happened—God died for sinners.
And now He is not. He is alive.
The impossible happened—God rose from the dead.
And all of this is for you.
In Jesus' Name. Amen.
God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Thanks be to God!

Sunday, April 1, 2018

Our Redeemer Remains Risen Even When We Have Nothing

RESURRECTION
EASTER SUNDAY
APRIL 1, 2018
JOB 19:23–27
Our Redeemer Remains Risen Even When We Have Nothing
In the name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end He will stand upon the earth.
Job had nothing when he spoke his most repeated famous words. Here is just a portion of his lament:
JOB 19:18-20 Even young children despise me; when I rise they talk against me. All my intimate friends abhor me, and those whom I loved have turned against me. My bones stick to my skin and to my flesh, and I have escaped by the skin of my teeth. ENGLISH STANDARD VERSION
Everything he had had been stripped away, piece by piece. His children were dead, his money was gone, his wife hated him, and his friends kept on pecking him to death with their accusations.
But Job had one thing left. He clung to his redemption and resurrection.
JOB 19:25–27 I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end He will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God; I myself will see Him with my own eyes—I, and not another. How my heart yearns within me!” NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION 1984
Dear friends, perhaps our losses won't ever be as epic as Job's, but we still lose. The land that we loved has departed. The brother that we used to know has turned against us. The body that used to run and jump and rest now just aches. The child who used to smile at us with baby smiles now scowls and uses the voice you longed to hear to question your every decision, much like the friends of Job.
This life is loss and pain. Anyone who says differently is selling something. Job knew it; so do we. And we have what Job had: Christ. He didn't know the name, as we do, but Job knew His work: Redeemer.
The Redeemer was coming and in the end He would stand upon the earth as the One who conquered pain, loss, and even death itself.
Job is dust. Has been for a long time. If Job died today, we'd be looking back at Job 19 in the year (ballpark) 6000 AD. He lived at least 4000 years ago, yet Adam had told his sons about the coming Redeemer, the One who stamp out the work of the devil.
The who stamps has come. He stamped out the devil's power on the cross and then He departed the tomb to give you His victory on the cross, by giving us His living body and blood in His holy supper.
So let us eat this bread and drink this cup and proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes (1 CORINTHIANS 11:26). And when He comes we will join Job, staring joyfully at Jesus Christ.
Godspeed the Day!
In Jesus' Name. Amen.
God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Thanks be to God!

A Quiet Savior in a Noisy Crowd of Sinners

PALMARUM
SIXTH SUNDAY IN LENT
+ HOLY WEEK +
March 25, 2018
ST. JOHN 12:12–16
A Quiet Savior in a Noisy Crowd of Sinners
In the name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Jesus is the Lamb of God who went forth to die for our sins and today He is riding on a donkey. And He didn't say anything.
This might seem strange to us because this would seem like the perfect time to pause and preach and teach to the crowds. You can't buy publicity like this. And if this had been anyone else, we might have said that the man on the donkey had wasted an opportunity to preach the Gospel.
But the Man on the donkey is Jesus. He never misses anything.
The purpose of this procession was to tell by showing. Christ showed the crowds that He is the King of Kings and the Son of David. He is the One who comes in the name of the Lord. This royal Son of David was the Lord's chosen One who would be sacrificed to make atonement for all sinners.
Indeed St. John tells us:
ST. JOHN 12:16 His disciples did not understand these things at first, but when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered that these things had been written about him and had been done to him. ENGLISH STANDARD VERSION
For three years God's Lamb had traveled all across the Holy Land. He spoke and taught publicly for all three years. The only times He had to hide Himself was when the mob wanted to grab Him and shove Him onto a royal throne or when they tried to throw big rocks at His face to kill Him. He hide Himself because at those times it wasn't time. But now the time had come.
While the eyes of so many saw the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world riding on a donkey, Jesus let the crowds speak for Him:
ST. JOHN 12:13 Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord ENGLISH STANDARD VERSION
At many key moments in Jesus' life songs were sung. And these songs and chants revealed who Jesus is. Angels had sung to the shepherds who tending their sheep in the fields nearby at Jesus' birth.
ST. LUKE 2:14 Glory be to God on high, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests. NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION 1984
Jesus is the One who brings peace. A few weeks after Jesus birth Simeon rejoiced as he held the Savior in his arms:
ST. LUKE 2:29–32 Lord, as You have promised, You now dismiss Your servant in peace. For my eyes have seen Your Salvation, which You have prepared in the sight of all people, a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to Your people Israel. NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION 1984
Now days away from Jesus' death the crowds were book ending that hymn of praise. Even though many in the chorus did not grasp what they were saying, their shouts are still true. Jesus is the Hosanna, the One who saves. He is the Son of David the Lord God had promised to King David:
2 SAMUEL 7:12–13 When your days are fulfilled and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. ENGLISH STANDARD VERSION
This promise is fulfilled in Christ Jesus. And today, while He quietly rode on His donkey, the noisy crowd of sinners surrounding Jesus proclaimed it clearly. Today this noisy crowd of sinners here will join them:
Hosanna in the highest!
Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!
In Jesus' Name. Amen.
God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Thanks be to God!

Father Abraham Had Only One Son

JUDICA
FIFTH SUNDAY IN LENT
March 18, 2018
ST. JOHN 8:46–59
Father Abraham Had Only One Son
In the name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Contrary to the song, Father Abraham had only one son with his wife Sarah. Isaac was the son that the Lord had promised to this old couple. And Isaac was a faithful son of God, who obediently lay down on a stone altar to be killed according to the Word of God, before the Lord spared his life (Genesis 22). But in the end Father Abraham had only one Son who mattered.
But as he got older, Isaac turned out to be a bad egg. He wasn't the Messiah. His birth was a miracle, but his life was ordinarily sinful. He sinned in ways that mirrored his sinful father Abraham. For example, they both lied about their wives to powerful men. They both told neighboring kings that their wives were their sisters (Genesis 20 and 26). They did not trust the Lord to keep them safe, so they used their own cleverness to save themselves. In the end, Abraham and Isaac only disgraced themselves.
Both these men, father and son, needed to be saved from their disgrace. And so God promised them and their wives, Sarah and Rebekah, and all their children a Savior.
GENESIS 12:1–3 Now the Lord said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father's house to the land that I will show you. And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” ENGLISH STANDARD VERSION
This was the very first promise or covenant the Lord God made to Abraham. The blessing of Abraham is that one of his sons would be the Savior from sin. Abraham perhaps thought for a time that Isaac was that Savior, but if he ever thought this, he would have come to realize that the Savior was yet to come.
As it turned out that Savior arrived 2,000 years later, after thousands, even millions, of Abraham's sons lived and died. His name is Jesus.
Tragically, in the last sentences of St. John 8 these sons of Abraham were accusing the Son of Abraham of being a devil. This standard tactic is a thread that runs through the season of Lent: Jesus fighting and beating the devil or Jesus being accused of being in league with the devil or being the devil incarnate.
ST. JOHN 8:52–53 The Jews said to him, “Now we know that you have a demon! Abraham died, as did the prophets, yet you say, ‘If anyone keeps my word, he will never taste death.’ Are you greater than our father Abraham, who died? And the prophets died! Who do you make yourself out to be?” ENGLISH STANDARD VERSION
They show their faith with their words. They believed that Abraham was dead along with all the prophets of the Old Testament. They took the good gift from God of a good father and turned Abraham into an idol. Abraham had become their god. This is odd because they certainly knew every detail of Abraham's life: his great deeds, his generosity, but also his sins and his disgraces. But in their unbelief they had failed to listen to the actual and true God speaking to Abraham:
GENESIS 22:15–18 And the angel of the Lord called to Abraham a second time from heaven and said, “By myself I have sworn, declares the Lord, because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son, I will surely bless you, and I will surely multiply your offspring as the stars of heaven and as the sand that is on the seashore. And your offspring shall possess the gate of his enemies, and in your offspring shall all the nations of the earth be blessed, because you have obeyed my voice.” ENGLISH STANDARD VERSION
In your offspring” means Jesus. All the nations of the earth will be blessed because the Lord God and Father of us all did not withhold His only-begotten Son Jesus. God's people who come from every nation and tribe are blessed because Jesus sacrificed Himself on the altar of the cross instead of Isaac or any of us.
This is why even though Father Abraham had many sons, he had only one Son who mattered, because He was the only Son who saves.
Next Sunday we will hear the shouts of Hosanna as this Son of Abraham enters Jerusalem. Their words are true then and they are true today for Hosanna means Save Us!
The false sons of Abraham, who had wrapped themselves up in the flag of Jewishness, so to speak, accused Jesus of fabricating an identity for Himself. But these accusations only proved their misguided unbelief.
But Jesus doesn't make Himself out to be anyone and He replies,
ST. JOHN 8:54–56 “If I glorify myself, my glory is nothing. It is my Father who glorifies me, of whom you say, ‘He is our God.’ But you have not known him. I know him. If I were to say that I do not know him, I would be a liar like you, but I do know him and I keep his word. Your father Abraham rejoiced that he would see my day. He saw it and was glad.” ENGLISH STANDARD VERSION
In Jesus' transfiguration Jesus speaks with Moses and Elijah about His coming crucifixion. And since we know Abraham is in heaven, we can understand Jesus' words about Abraham's gladness and can imagine his delight in seeing the sending of God's only-begotten Son into the world to complete His covenant of salvation.
In Jesus' Name. Amen.
God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Thanks be to God!

Living Bread from the Bread of Life

LAETARE
FOURTH SUNDAY IN LENT
March 11, 2018

ST. JOHN 6:1–15
Living Bread from the Bread of Life


In the name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
People running out of food and drink is a recurring theme in the early chapters of St. John's Gospel. In John 2 at the wedding in Cana the wine almost runs out. In John 4 at the well in Samaria (the northwestern chunk of the Holy Land that Jews tended to avoid) Jesus' disciples went to buy food and Jesus asked the woman at the well for a drink of water.
Here in John 6 the thousands who had followed Jesus' didn't have any food. And even before He asked His disciples for solutions to this problem, He had already decided to use His divine power to feed these people.
ST. JOHN 6:5–9 Lifting up His eyes, then, and seeing that a large crowd was coming toward Him, Jesus said to Philip, “Where are we to buy bread, so that these people may eat?” He said this to test him, for He Himself knew what He would do. Philip answered Him, “Two hundred denarii worth of bread would not be enough for each of them to get a little.” One of His disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, said to Him, “There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish, but what are they for so many?” ENGLISH STANDARD VERSION
The text here raises up several interesting questions:
How did Andrew know this, spotting this kid's lunch among the thousands?
Or did the kid somehow hear there was a shortage of food and come forward on his own?
And why did this kid have food on him when all the men had come unprepared?
But a far more important question John's account raises is this:
What is Jesus trying to teach us by providing a tremendous outpouring of food from five little loaves, bread from bread?
If we look back, our Lord Jesus sometimes brings bread directly from heaven. When the Israelites had been delivered out of slavery from Egypt, but then rebelled, our Lord caused them to wander in the desert wilderness for forty years. But during this time He provided miracle manna from heaven to keep them alive.
But our Lord at the wedding in Cana didn't make the sky open and rain down wine for the guests. He used water in six stones jar and changed it to wine.
In our lesson for today He didn't rain down bread from heaven (which He easily could have done), but instead He chose to make use of this boy's bread and fish.
ST. JOHN 6:1011 Jesus said, “Have the people sit down.” Now there was much grass in the place. So the men sat down, about five thousand in number. Jesus then took the loaves, and when He had given thanks, He distributed them to those who were seated. So also the fish, as much as they wanted. ENGLISH STANDARD VERSION
Some “experts” in some visible churches demand that this event was an exercise in mass psychology. To wit, when the grown men saw how generous this little kid was, they were ashamed and/or inspired and decided that it was time to take out the food that they had been hiding in their robes, just like everybody else. And soon everyone was enjoying a communal meal with their fellow man. Behold! And see what comes with trusting in the inherent goodness of mankind. This was no miracle, say these experts, yes, even pastors. They violate the clear words of Scripture and speculate that this miracle was spiritual in nature: Jesus had helped inspire the masses to overcome their selfishness and learn to share.
How sweet. How pungent.
Now if Jesus had had manna rain down, these hip thinkers might be more pressed for a non-miraculous answer. But Jesus chose to use existing food and turn it into a feast. Why?
Because Jesus is the giver of all good things, including our daily bread, which is everything we need for body and life. Food, of course, but also clothing, homes, and everything else that keeps you alive and safe.
And Jesus making bread into more and more bread reminds us that He chooses to use us for His purpose of creating more and more believers.
He chooses to need trained men—pastors—to take care of the souls of His people.
He chooses to need godly men—especially fathers—to raise His sons and daughters in the way of the Lord.
He chooses to need godly women—especially mothers—to love and care for His children.
He chooses to call godly baptized believers—especially all of you—to be who He has created you to be in all your different walks of life.
He even chooses to use ordinary bread and create for us His own body for us to eat for our salvation. He chooses to use ordinary wine and create for us His own blood for us to drink for our salvation.
Ordinary people. Ordinary bread.
But Jesus is the Bread of Life. He gives Himself to you in Word and Wine and Bread and makes you extraordinary. You are never going to not exist. You might die, but you will always live because you have received the bread of life.
ST. JOHN 6:35–40 Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst. But I said to you that you have seen me and yet do not believe. All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out. For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.” ENGLISH STANDARD VERSION
In Jesus' Name. Amen.
God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Thanks be to God!

Monday, February 26, 2018

Love That Says No; Faith That Says Yes

REMINISCERE
SECOND SUNDAY IN LENT
February 25, 2018

ST. MATTHEW 15:28
Love That Says No; Faith That Says Yes


In the name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
How is any child able to accept “No” from their parent without anger or resentment?
Because they know that the “No” is for their own good. Now in practice we offer react to “No” with anger and resentment. When little ones comes to the dinner table, an often-repeated argument is who gets to sit next to whom. Any denial of placement can be met with howls of anger—because they think that no one loves them.
Jesus said “No” to a Canaanite mother three times in St. Matthew's chapter fifteen account:
1. He did not answer her a word.
2. “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”
3. “It is not right to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.”
She asked for help and He said no by ignoring her, by talking as though she wasn't there, and then by calling her a dog.
But she trusted Him. She expected good things from Him because she knew by faith that He loved her.
This mother was a Canaanite. This meant that she was not Jewish. She was descended from the heathen-majority nations that bordered the Holy Land. Just like many in our families today, her family probably contained idol-worshipers. So how this faithful woman came to faith is unknown, at least as far as the details. But somehow the Holy Spirit sent the words of Moses and Prophets to this woman and created in her saving trust in Christ.
Her faith agreed with God and so did her mouth, which confessed:
ST. MATTHEW 15:22 “Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David; my daughter is severely oppressed by a demon.” ENGLISH STANDARD VERSION
She called Him Lord, Son of David. She knew that this humble man who called Mary mother and Nazareth home, was really not from around here. He belonged at His Father's right hand.
But He had come down here, to the Earth, to keep His promise. This is the great joy here: Jesus loves to be trapped by His Word. The mother of this demon-oppressed daughter expected Jesus to give her a good word. When He says no to her, her God-given trust in His promise to give good things persists.
We, too, are wise to expect good things from our Lord Jesus. I suppose our trouble comes from confusion about those good things are. Like children we expect our way to be obtained and quickly.
For this mother, these perhaps 15 minutes were the longest of her life. And also the greatest 15 minutes of her earthly life.
For Jacob who wrestled with God 2,000 years before Jesus spoke with this mother, that night was perhaps the longest of his life.
For those with cancer and those who care about them, minutes is not in your vocabulary. Months and years are the reality. And for many of God's faithful people, years of treatment end without deliverance. But this view can only be confessed if you believe that earthly life is the best thing, the most important thing.
God grants life and health; He also might let us linger in the shadow of death. And what could be more of a NO than a death from cancer.
But by faith we with this kneeling mother and limping Jacob we hear God's “No” and cling to our trust that He will always give us what is best. And by the fact of your hearing God's Word gives evidence that you already have it: faith in Christ.
He is the best thing. And even though coming into contact with Him in His Word may humbled us, even like Jacob leave us with scars, we remain His dogs, His children, His brothers and sisters.
Only trust in Christ lets us hold Him to His promises. And He loves to caught by us as we hold onto His Word.
This is Remember Sunday (Latin: Reminiscere). The names comes from Psalm 25:
Remember not the sins of my youth and my rebellious ways.
And this good thing is done and accomplish according to our Lord's love. In His goodness He remembers us, His children. Come to His table and eat His bread that gives life and goodness.
In Jesus' Name. Amen.
God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Thanks be to God!

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Thrown Out and Patched Up

INVOCAVIT
FIRST SUNDAY IN LENT
February 18, 2018

ST. MATTHEW 4:1,11 + ST. MARK 1:12–13
Our Savior Is Thrown Out and Patched Up


In the name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Would you rather watch the first ten minutes of a movie or the last ten minutes? You don't get to watch the middle. You can only choose the beginning or the end. Which one do you choose?
I don't know what the question is supposed to tell you about yourself, other than being a good discussion starter with your friends. My conditioned response is to choose the first ten minutes, conditioned because most films these days put a lot of action into the start to hook you in. The endings these day are hit or miss because most major motion pictures these days never end. To wit, the best part of any comic book is rarely the ending, but instead the little teaser scene that sets up the next movie that runs after the end credits.
A possible exception to this rule is when watching documentaries, films about real people and events. If the documentary has a done its job, the story presented builds to a conclusion that is worth the wait.
Happily the real events of Jesus' life have fascinating beginnings, middles, and ends. This is most certainly true of this incident in the wilderness. Let's focus on the beginning and the end.
St. Matthew and St. Luke tell us that Jesus was led out into the desert wilderness after He was baptized into the Jordan River. The Father had just said that this man Jesus is His eternal beloved Son. The Spirit had lighted upon Him as a dove, anointing Him as the promised One who would die for all stubbornness and greed and gluttony and every other sin and Sin itself. And right after this ringing endorsement, God drove Him out into the wilderness!
I say drove Him out because St. Mark says that right after the Baptism of Jesus:
ST. MARK 1:12 The Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness. ENGLISH STANDARD VERSION 2016
This driving out and leading out into battle with the Devil demonstrates Christ's humanity. He's just like us, yet without sin.
So perhaps some of you have helped herd turkeys before Thanksgiving. They are heavy, fast, and determined birds, who go their own way. Getting them rounded up is hard work. After you've done it a couple of times, you know you can do the work, that you'll survive, but I doubt you're trotting out to Turkey Town on your way to work.
Jesus is God in the flesh. He knows what's coming, He knows that He'll survive, and indeed crush the devil and send him on his way. But Jesus was sane, and no one in their right mind would relish the prospect of almost six weeks with food, being tempted by the Devil the whole time. Therefore it is not surprising that the inspired writers of Jesus' life note that He was led on His way, even driven out into the wilderness. The willing Savior is emphatically urged on by the Spirit. Jesus doesn't go to play with the devil, but to do battle with him.1
He wins the battle by speaking His own words back to the devil. The devil can use force when the Lord allows it,2 but the devil's main weapon is words. He twists the Lord's own promises to try and lead Jesus into having other gods.
He utterly fails. Jesus sends the devil away with these His own words:
ST. MATTHEW 4:10 “Be gone, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.’” ENGLISH STANDARD VERSION 2016
And the devil had to obey and so he left Jesus.
For those who worry that Jesus could have failed in His battle with the devil or that it was too easy for Him (meaning that He wasn't really hungry or weak or exhausted and was playing with the devil like a cat with a mouse or better, a floating alligator with a mouse), do not worry. Jesus' temptation was real, though His victory was assured. The proof of this grueling duel comes at the end:
ST. MATTHEW 4:10 and behold, angels came and were ministering to him. ENGLISH STANDARD VERSION 2016
He was so spent that His own good angels came to care for Him and restore His strength. The beginning and end of this incident shows that Jesus was not play-acting. He was willing and glad to do the Father's will, but as we hear as He prayed in Gethsemane's garden hours before He was hung on a cross, He was in His right mind. If there was another way, so much the better. But always God's will be done. The way of suffering and temptation and the cross is the way of our Lord and of His people.
Sometimes you may feel thrust out into the wilderness of this sinful world and of your own soul. A job isn't working out the way you'd hoped. A marriage isn't working out as well as the wedding. A child isn't listening as they should. And the devil comes and tells us all of this isn't our fault—go ahead and complain and become bitter. Better yet, just give up and despair. The devil delights in hot words or no words at all.
But Christ will speak to you. And His speaking to you is why you won't die. You will suffer, but you will survive. He won't let you starve; He feed you with Himself, the Bread of Life. He won't let you die; He'll bless and keep you safe, sending His angels to protect you as you go about serving Him only as only the living can.
You are alive. Jesus speaks and you're alive. This life came in the day of Baptism. At this beginning of your life, Jesus drove away the devil and demons. They are no longer your masters; now Christ is.
And so you've seen the first ten minutes of the movie of your life. It's a documentary, it's real. You're living in the middle of it, no matter how young or old you are. But I know the ending and so do you because Christ knows you.
In Jesus' Name. Amen.
God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Thanks be to God!
1Notes on Mark 1:12–13, Daniel Deutschlander.

2Matthew 17:15