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Luke 4.1 thru 13 Sermon

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Title:  "Christ's Victory is Our Victory!"

Text:  Luke 4:1-13

1st Sunday of Lent, 2007

Goal:  That the hearers are more secure in Christ’s victory over Satan, sin and death.


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

Temptation…it’s how Satan works.  He comes at us with all kinds of tricks and uses half truths to lure us into his web.  He is the lion waiting outside our door and temptation is his way of getting us close enough to pounce…

It’s getting to be tax time again and some of us might be trying to get all of the paperwork filled out and sent in right about now…  Some have struggled with checking a box or filling in an amount on a tax form that would not be quite right.  Sometimes we excuse this with a lack of complete understanding of the rules.  This kind of fudging on our taxes is how the devil works with temptation.  He sees our need for some extra money.  He uses the feeling of our being unsure or even a feeling of unfairness when we are asked to pay what most consider an exorbitant amount of taxes.  He whispers in our ear that we really should not pay this extra amount or should really add this extra deduction because this is our money any way.  We all know the IRS is taking way too much of our hard earned money in the first place!  Why shouldn’t we claim what should be ours anyway!  This is how Satan talks us into stepping over the line.  He picks the opportune time, when we owe a balloon payment on our house or the car breaks down and reveals an easy, but dishonest, way to acquire the money to pay these bills.  There are many other ways in which Satan tempts us to walk away from God and what is right.

Temptation…it’s how Satan works.  Have you ever thought about what would have happened if Jesus had stepped over the line?  What if Jesus had not resisted temptation and gone ahead and did what the devil was asking Him to do?  We just heard the account of how Jesus’ was being tempted in the wilderness…  Yeah, yeah, he gets tempted and he overcomes all of the Devil’s attempts to steer Him away from God and defeats Satan…  But what if He had lost!?  How dark would this world be?  This battle in the desert was all important.  This was a test to see who was more powerful…Satan…or the Son of God.  If Jesus fails this test the world is lost.  Satan would have defeated God’s plan for salvation for the entire world!  We would be under the rule of the Devil on earth if Jesus had not been victorious in that desert.

Satan’s temptations were no easy tests either.  Jesus had to be hungry after forty days in the desert…and Satan had the answer.  “Tell this stone to become bread.”  His temptation was not only playing on Jesus’ hunger, but he was attempting to have Jesus doubt the Father’s plan for His life.  He would have Jesus stop believing in the Father’s ability to provide for Him…  Such doubt is the end game for Satan.  He wanted Jesus to walk away from the mission He had come to this earth to carry out.  He is trying everything to stop Jesus.  When Jesus resists his first trial he moves to another form of temptation.  He tempts Christ with power and authority over all He can see from this high place he has taken Him.  This tactic may seem odd to us knowing the end of the story and not having to go through what Jesus had to go through.  But for Him this must have been difficult.  Jesus could avoid the pain and the anguish that was ahead for Him.  Satan plays on a very human love of the world and all of its pleasures.  Jesus would only have to worship Satan and He would have everything now without the suffering that He knew He would have to endure.

Satan did in fact have the power to give to Jesus.  We know from multiple passages that Satan is the prince of this world.  Of course, these disastrous outcomes would all be under God’s sovereignty and we have no idea of what would have really happened…but that is the point.  We do know the outcome…

We are celebrating the first Sunday in Lent.  We are marching to the cross in our liturgical year.  What does this mean for us?  The crucifixion and rising of our Lord on Easter Sunday is our victory over Satan, sin and even death.  On that cross we see Satan’s defeat.  In the resurrection not even death can hold our beloved Savior down.  This is a resounding victory!  We know that we have that same victory in this death and resurrection.  My children love to sing the song, “I am the resurrection (clap), I am the life (clap-clap-clap-clap), he who believes in Me will never die.”  These words are a victory song for all of us to sing.  We live in Jesus’ victory.  He is our power over Satan and his temptations.  We can be assured He is with us when those opportune times for Satan to tempt us arrive.  Remember the first words of this reading.  “Jesus, full of the Spirit…”  We are reminded at this moment that Jesus has just been baptized and He is full of the Holy Spirit.  We too are baptized and are full of the Holy Spirit.  We have this same power available to us!  We too have the Holy Scriptures to help us defeat the old evil foe as Jesus did.  He has given us a glimpse in the wilderness of His power…His resolve to continue this mission of love, and His eventual final victory.  We are reminded that Christ suffered temptation just as we do in our lives, and because He did this, He can understand and sympathizes with our struggle.  And finally He gives us victory over Satan when we struggle.  But we don’t always win do we?  Even then we have the victory of the cross over the devil.  We are forgiven when we stumble…we are forgiven for the sinful fall in temptation that we may have just experienced.  All we need do is repent and ask for His forgiveness and this victory is ours!...

A Professor at the Seminary told me a story about a man that had wild hair, was unshaven, wore disheveled clothes, and kind of smelled.  This man walked into a church almost aimlessly.  He didn’t seem to know what he was doing or where he was going…but he wanted to go into the sanctuary.  Everyone kind of opened a path for him as he walked in and people didn’t know what to do with him.  Everyone just sat down in their usual seats and got ready for service.  But this man didn’t easily find a place to sit, he wandered around and finally sat down…He didn’t sit down in the pew though…he sat down cross-legged right in the middle of the aisle!  At this point people were starting to mutter to each other and gesture down low where no one could see.  Clearly this was not acceptable behavior…what would he do next?  Thankfully one of the elders was on the job.  He saw the man and began to walk up the aisle toward him.  It was as if you could feel the sigh of relief throughout the crowd.  This matter would now be taken care of and the people would be able to go on with the service.  The elder, in his well put together three-piece-suit, approached the man and bent over next to him.  People in the pews were wondering how he was going to handle this, what was he going to say to him to get him to leave.  Then the strangest thing happened…the elder sat down next to the man and looked with him up at the cross…

This may seem like a strange story to tell about temptation…but it really is an area that we are all tempted in.  We are tempted by Satan to feel that we should be careful not to let strange people into our midst. Satan whispers…“he doesn’t look right”…“he doesn’t have the right clothes”…or even “he isn’t the right color”.  We struggle with many other temptations in our lives; adultery, speeding, overeating, drinking, smoking, whatever the vice there is a temptation saying this is more important than God at that moment…this is how Satan works.  The story of the man coming to church plays on our temptation to keep up appearances.  This is one of the worst; we stop ourselves from telling someone about Jesus in a public setting because Satan tells us it wouldn’t be appropriate.  He tells us not to go out of our comfort zone…what would be the point they wouldn’t listen anyway…

Yes, Satan is a lion waiting to pounce and temptation is how he works.  But we are God’s people and Jesus is stronger than that old evil foe!  All kinds of temptations come at us each day.  We are tempted with Satan’s whispering, but we have someone else with us too!  The Holy Spirit is with us as we walk this earth and He has the power to defeat Satan.  We have victory from temptation in our lives and, through the cross…victory even when we give in…

But is this the final victory?  I have been reading the kids the Narnia books and C.S. Lewis writes, in “The Last Battle”, of his interpretation of heaven in this book…  After all the good and noble battles…there is finally “the last battle” and then there is heaven.  His depiction of heaven is really beautiful.  His description of the warm wind and waving grass surrounded by snow capped mountains with glimmering waterfalls pouring off of rock covered cliffs that you can run up just sounded so inviting to me.  When my kids heard it the first time it actually got them excited to go to heaven.  They were very young and I hurriedly convinced them that they should live life here first with us.  His coming again is the final victory that we have to look forward to.  When He comes again there will be no more temptation.  There will be no more Tempter for that matter.  The devil and all his trickery will be gone forever and we will be left to live in the light of Jesus for eternity.  Temptation…it’s how Satan works but the cross is how we have victory over His evil tactics!...

And now may the peace which surpasses all understanding guard your hearts and minds to life everlasting.  Amen.

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