Lent 4 Midweek—6th Petition (Mt 27:11–31)

Immanuel Lutheran Church—Bremen, KS || AUDIO

INI + AMEN.

((5. Oops!: We all have sins.))

You’re a sinner. You have sins. You can’t escape that. None of us can. We all have sins. We sin against God. We doubt God. We turn from Him. Living “as if God did not matter and as if I mattered most.” “Our worship and prayers have faltered.” And so we don’t receive or don’t want to receive His Word and His Gifts, even though Jesus, the eternal God, came, suffered, died, and rose just so that you can have them.

You sin against others. I do, too. We put ourselves first. You and I “have not let [Jesus’] love have its way with me and so my love for others has failed.” We hurt people. We let them down. We’ve “failed to help” them.

Not only that: Our “thoughts…have been soiled with sin,” too! We don’t think the best of others. We smile, but the smile hides what’s really going on. If anyone saw the man or the woman that we really are behind the curtain, what chance would we have?

That’s who you are. That’s who I am. “Daily and much.” Sinner.

((4. Ugh!: Were all filled with sinful desires—tempted!))

And if all of that weren’t bad enough: it’s not just your “thoughts [that] have been soiled with sin.” No! Your “thoughts and desires have been soiled with sin”—mine, too! And that gets us to our 6th Petition tonight: “And lead us not into temptation.” And this leads us to the question: What exactly is temptation?

James says, “Each person is tempted when he is baited and hooked by his own desire. Then, after desire has conceived, it delivers sin, and after sin comes to term, it gives birth to death.” To be tempted is to be lured, baited, and hooked by your own sinful desires.

Temptation can be easily seen. Just look at Pilate in our reading tonight. He was tempted to forsake justice by the Jewish leaders. He was tempted to condemn, crucify, and kill Christ. So, he did. The Jewish people were tempted by their religious leaders to want Barabbas (a murderer) instead of Christ who raised the dead! And so, they did. The religious leaders were tempted by their own jealousy of Jesus to have him killed. And so, they did.

You and I are baited, too. “The devil, the world, and our sinful nature deceive us and mislead us into false belief, despair, and other great shame and vice.” In fact, “daily and much” we’re filled with all sorts of sinful desires. Our hearts naturally go that way. Temptations and desires, devil, world, and our own heart, soul, mind, and strength “bait and hook” us. We’re tempted towards all sorts of sins.

Look at her. Say this about him. Treat yourself to this, that, or the other thing. Don’t be faithful. Don’t be generous. Don’t forgive them for what they’ve done. Don’t read your Bible. Don’t pray. Don’t receive the Sacrament. (You don’t need those to be a Christian.) You’re a nice enough person to be a Christian. You think about God…sometimes. You don’t need His Word and Gifts. A loving God wouldn’t let this happen or that happen. Don’t be better for those around you. Don’t change. Don’t repent. You are who you are, no need to take an honest look at yourself. And so, you do. I do, too.

On and on the temptations go. We’ve each got our own mishmash of temptations and sins. There’s probably more I missed. You know how it goes for you, though, don’t you? I know how it is for me. How quickly we fall and fail again and again. Daily and much. Sinful habits set in faster than we can get a handle on them. The more you work, the more you uncover. No end it sight. Rotten. Sinners. Tempted. That’s you. That’s me.

((3. Aha!: JESUS SUFFERED THROUGH TEMPTATION FOR YOU.))

So, what’s to be done? Give up? No, that won’t do. Why would you give up? It doesn’t make any sense to give up fighting temptation. Why doesn’t it make any sense? Because temptation—yours and mine—has already been taken care of. Jesus took care of it. He died for it. Suffered for it. And it’s not just that He’s redeemed us from our sins and giving in to temptation. No, He didn’t just suffer for your sins; JESUS SUFFERED THROUGH TEMPTATION FOR YOU.

((2. Whee!: Salvation includes salvation from temptation.))

JESUS SUFFERING THROUGH TEMPTATION FOR YOU is part of your salvation. He suffered through it without giving in, without sinning. Jesus lived a life of SUFFERING THROUGH TEMPTATION FOR YOU. We have story after story of when Jesus was tempted, and tempted most of all to avoid saving you.

“Don’t get into the water Jesus,” said John the Baptizer. “Turn these stone to bread, take a leap of faith, worship me,” said the devil in the desert. “Far be it from you to suffer and die Jesus!” said Peter. “Say something! Defend Yourself. You’re not guilty. Just say something and you’ll survive.” said Pilate. “Come down from the cross and we’ll believe,” said so many people as He was crucified.

Even more than that: Jesus was tempted in every single way you are, and yet He endured. He won, and His victory over temptation counts for you. Jesus’ salvation includes salvation from temptation. Does that mean you won’t be tempted? Far from it! But Jesus has already crucified your sinful desires, your temptations in His own death. He buried them in His tomb. He resurrected from the dead to set you right with His Father.

JESUS SUFFERED THROUGH TEMPTATION FOR YOU. Now sin and even temptation will never ever count against you. You are redeemed, saved, made holy. Salvation from temptation is yours.

((1. Yeah!: In Jesus, you overcome them and win the victory.))

Since JESUS SUFFERED THROUGH TEMPTATION FOR YOU, that means you’ve already been rescued from every temptation you experience and will experience. Now, you could give in. But why would you? Jesus already won the victory for you! The temptations still come, though, don’t they? You know it’s true. You still give in. You know that’s true, too. You shouldn’t. You know you shouldn’t! You should fight harder. “The Spirit [within you] is willing, but [your] flesh is weak.”

But JESUS SUFFERED THROUGH TEMPTATION FOR YOU, and that means Jesus is there for you. He won’t leave you. He gives you His victory over temptation. He would continually overcome all your enemies for you. His Baptism gave it to you. His Word continues to do it. His body and blood do, too. After all, it’s the body and blood in which He was tempted and won. He gives you forgiveness, new life, and salvation through it. Salvation even from temptation. Why do you think there’s temptation to not receive it more and more? The devil, the world, and your flesh don’t want you receiving the Supper, because then you’d begin to actually live like a Christian.

JESUS really did SUFFER THROUGH TEMPTATION FOR YOU. You’re in Him, and He in you. His Spirit’s in you, too. That’s Baptism. That’s the Supper. That’s the Word. Just imagine how much more your Father will give you when you pray this Petition? Jesus and the Spirit continue to work on you, giving you forgiveness, life, and salvation even in the midst of your temptations and sins. Only in the Word and Gifts.

JESUS really did SUFFER THROUGH TEMPTATION FOR YOU, and in Him, you’ve already overcome them and won the victory. And He continues to do it for you.

INI + AMEN.

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