Trinity 9 (Lk 16, 1–13; 1 Cor 10, 6–13)

Photo by Sasun Bughdaryan on Unsplash

Immanuel Lutheran Church—Bremen, KS || AUDIO
Bethlehem Lutheran Church—Bremen, KS || AUDIO

“No temptation has over taken you except that which is common to man.”

“No servant can serve two masters.”

᛭ INI ᛭

((5. Oops!: We suffer under temptation, and don’t even know it.))

“To err is human. No one’s perfect, after all.” Those are just excuses for our behavior. But Paul tells us something even deeper, something more corrupt, broken, sinful about ourselves. It’s something Jesus also picks up on. It’s not just the action. It’s the desire to act. In fact, it’s even deeper than that.

“No temptation has over taken you except that which is common to man.” Or to put this another way: “to be tempted is human.” So also Jesus was tempted. He’s a human being, after all. He “was tempted in every way that we are.” (Heb 4) Besides a life full of temptation, “Jesus went out into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.” (Mt 4)

Temptation is a daily problem. We don’t even notice how much we’re tempted! It has to be a daily problem. Jesus tells us, teaches us to pray about it every day: “Lead us not into temptation.” Do you think you’ve made it through a day without temptation? “Whoever thinks that he stands, watch out lest falls,” Paul says. We suffer under temptation and don’t even know it.

But what is temptation? James tells us “each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desires. Then desire, after it has conceived, gives birth to sin, and sin when it matures, produces death.” So temptation is to be lured by the allurement, enticed by the enticement, to be tempted by the temptation, to be overcome by desire.

Temptation is internal and external. It’s inside our own hearts: our flesh desires things. Temptation comes from the devil and the world, too: they create desires we didn’t know we had!

((4. Ugh!: We give in to the original temptation.))

Temptation gives birth to all sorts of sins. Paul lays out some of them in 1 Corinthians 10. “Let us not engage in sexual immorality as some of [the Israelites] did, and 23,000 fell on one day.” But Jesus gets to another sin. Not the sixth commandment, but the 7th. “You cannot serve God and Mammon.” The personification of wealth, greed, money—that’s Mammon. Money, work, prosperity, life goals are the driving force, the master of our lives. We get the best things for ourselves, and God gets the leftovers in the offering plate. (If we even give at all.) This action or inaction confesses who are true god really is.

Even now, how many of you are aggravated or at least uncomfortable by the fact that I even mentioned this? You see, that’s because we don’t just give in to various temptations, we give in to the original temptation. “You will be like god.” And that means we set up all sorts of false gods.

The Israelites did. They made the golden calf, they wanted to go back to Egypt, they didn’t want the manna, they grumbled, they worried, they were afraid.

So also us. Mammon, or mammon by another name, is your god. Your budget line items, your calendars, your thoughts, your lusts, your wants. Actually, your god is whatever thing or sin that I talk about that makes you most uncomfortable.

False gods create fear. What are you most afraid of losing?. Kids. Parents. Spouse. Friends. Job. Crops. Money. Stuff. Home. Reputation. Time. Life itself. We fear losing things like these more than losing Jesus. Jesus only gets first spot in what we say, not what we do. “We should not put Christ to test as some of them did and were destroyed by serpents.”

((3. Aha!:)) We live lives full of many lords.

“Lords” are what dictate your life, the flow of your life, how you spend your time, money, and energy. “Heart, soul, mind, and strength.” And we think those things save us, keep us safe. More money, more secure. Better stuff, better off. Free time, freedom.

And we can live a life full of many lords, but that game ends eventually. Jesus’ words are true: “No servant can serve two masters.” “You love one; hate the other. Devoted to one; despise the other.” Sounds a bit like the rat-race of our lives?

Besides, there is a Last Day, and not just the Last Day—your last day! What then? Where will your job, your crops, your money, all the things that you try to comfort yourself with—where will all those things go then? You’ll be dead.

There’ll be Jesus, though. What then? You’ll bow the knee. Everyone will at the bodily presence of Jesus. Either by faith or by force. “Every knee will bow in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father.”

((2. Whee!:)) THERE’S ONLY ONE TRUE LORD: JESUS.

And Jesus isn’t Lord by way of power, even though He’s almighty. He isn’t Lord by way of demand or Law, even though He’s the One who gave the Law at Sinai. He isn’t Lord by way of guilt and condemnation, even though He is “Judge of the living and the dead.” He will be those things for you, without faith in Him.

But THERE’S ONLY ONE TRUE LORD: JESUS. He’s the true Lord, because “the little word ‘Lord’ means simply the same as ‘redeemer.’ It means the One who has brought us from Satan to God, from death to life, and who preserves us in the same.” (Large Catechism, II § 31)

True Lord means true savior, true redeemer. A true Lord is someone who can save you, keep you safe, not just today, or tomorrow, but forever. A true Lord is “the way of escape.” As Paul says. He forgives not just sin, but gives forgiveness even for temptation.

In fact, He redeems us from temptation by being tempted for us, in our place. “He was tempted in every way that we are, yet without sin.” Where we fail and give in, Jesus never did. Even when it comes to money!

Jesus was poor in our place. Where we elevate money to the status and title of “lord,” well, Jesus didn’t. Look at His third temptation. He didn’t desire “the kingdoms of this world and their glory,” even when Satan tempted Jesus with them. “The Son of Man had no place to lay His head.” Or as one of my favorite Lenten hymns summarizes it:

“In life no house, no home
My Lord on earth might have;
In death no friendly tomb
But what a stranger gave.” (LSB 430:6)

((1. Yeah!:)) With Jesus as Lord we have confidence and peace.

Worldly lords aren’t lords. You’re free! Redeemed from them. “Purchased and won” not with worldly money, “gold or silver, but with Christ’s holy precious blood and innocent suffering and death.”

Jesus’ blood is the most precious commodity in the universe! No wonder, the church has the tradition of bowing, kneeling, genuflecting at the presence of His body and blood in the communion liturgy.

The Lord Jesus redeemed you with His blood. “The blood of Jesus cleanses us from all sins.” We’d never postpone payday. Why postpone receiving the most precious thing in the universe?

Jesus also promises daily bread for you. Not our daily wants, but daily needs. He cares for you. His nail scars prove that. “Give us this day our daily bread.” And the Father will, “only out of His divine goodness and mercy” in the death of His Son.

How will not? No doubt about it! No reason to chase after other gods that don’t fulfill our needs. “He who did not spare His own Son but gave Him up for us all, how will He not also with Him graciously give us all things? … Nothing will separate us from the Love of God in Christ Jesus.”

Jesus, the Creator of universe, died for you, uses His almighty power to freely give you His body and blood. No fear. Just peace. “Depart in peace.” He won’t hold out on what you need everyday either. After all, THERE’S ONLY ONE TRUE LORD: JESUS.

᛭ INI ᛭

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