Lent 1—Invocabit (Mt 4, 1–11)

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Then Jesus was led into the desert by the Spirit to be tempted by the devil.

᛭ INI ᛭

After His Baptism, Jesus goes into temptation. God the Son led into the desert by God the Holy Spirit to be tempted by the devil. Jesus takes on the tempter.

“God tempts no one.” The devil does. We encounter temptation everyday. The inner desire to sin. The devil entice our sinful flesh after what our flesh wants. The world lures us, too: “with seductive sinful vices.” “Someone is tempted when he’s led away by his own sinful desires,” James tells us.

This is why Jesus teaches us to pray daily: “Lead us not into temptation.” Every day we take up the 6th Petition as a defense against temptation. “We pray in this petition that God would guard and keep us so that the devil, the world, and our sinful nature may not deceive us or mislead us into false belief, despair, and other great shame and vice. Although we are attacked by these things, we pray that we may finally overcome them and win the victory.” (Small Catechism: 6th Petition.)

God hears and answers that prayer. He hears all prayers because of His mercy in Jesus (2 Cor 1). But Matthew 4 especially shows us this for the 6th Petition.

“LEAD US NOT INTO TEMPTATION” IS ANSWERED IN JESUS.

((I. καθ’ ἡμέραν προσέρχεται ο πειράζων προς ημας πάντας.))

Thank God that “LEAD US NOT INTO TEMPTATION” IS ANSWERED IN JESUS. We need Him to answer it because the tempter comes to all of us. Everyday he does!

The devil tempts us with our heart’s desires. Whatever we want, whatever he knows we’ll like. He’s very tricky that way. “He’s master of 1,000 arts” (Large Catechism) of deception and temptation. He tempted Jesus with food when He was hungry: “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.” He tempted Jesus to come down from the cross when He was suffering: “If you are the Son of God, come down from the cross.” (Mt 27:40) He tempted Eve in the same way: “When she saw that it was pleasant to the eyes and desirable to make one wise, she took and ate.” (Gen 3)

He tempts us the same way. The devil doesn’t waste time tempting you with something you don’t want. (He may tempt you to waste—steal!—your own time, though, or the time of others.) Money. Sex. Power. Popularity. Whatever it is—He’ll entice you with it.

Our flesh sides with him, with the world, too. We aren’t neutral. We’re born as allies of the world, citizens in the domain and darkness—“under the power of the devil.” The prayer for “new and contrite hearts” is always appropriate. We need “God the Father…to rule our hearts…by His Holy Spirit.” (Post Communion Collect) We need Him to “transport us into the Kingdom of His beloved son.” (Col 1)

The devil will also delude us into thinking that we can cover it all up. Our flesh gives into that delusion. Adam and Eve thought they could cover up their sin and shame with fig leaves, that they could hide from Christ behind a tree! We’re no better. We think no one knows our sins, or even our temptations. We just don’t want to think about that God can see the intentions, the temptations, in our hearts.

Through His Word God shows us what He sees in our hearts and consciences: “sin and death.” Don’t believe the devil’s lie that you can overcome temptation! Temptation will never end this side of glory. The life of a baptized believer is a battle where “the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do.” (Gal 5:17)

((II. Ιησούς δέδωκεν τα ὅπλα τῆς δικαιοσύνης τῶν δεξιῶν καὶ ἀριστερῶν.))

This is exactly why we need Jesus. And this is why it’s comforting for us who struggle with temptation that “LEAD US NOT INTO TEMPTATION” IS ANSWERED IN JESUS.

When Paul lists the things that show his and his fellow ministers value and worth to the Corinthians, one of the things He lists is “the weapons of righteousness for the right and left hands.” It’s not just ministers who have this weaponry, because all Christians receive “the whole armor of God.” (Eph 6) And so all Christians have “the weapons of righteousness for the right and left hands,” especially so for times of temptation.

Jesus is “THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS” as prophesied in Jeremiah. He is our righteousness in temptation because He also went through temptation. He beat the tempter: “Get behind Me, Satan!” “He was tempted in every way that we are, yet without sin,” Hebrews tells us. And He gives us His righteousness: “everyone who is baptized has been clothed with Christ,” Paul says, clothed with His righteousness. And for all the times we give in, Jesus never did, and Jesus took on each of those times, too: the Father made Jesus “who knew no sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we would become the righteousness of God,” in Him by faith and by baptism.

Jesus arms us for the fight. He gives us weapons for right and left hands—weapons for offense and weapons for defense. His weapons, so that He is in fact the one fighting for us. Jesus arms us with the 6th Petition (“lead us not into temptation”), that is our shield and defense. The LORD answers that prayer, but there are weapons that fight back. You’re not expected to fight on your own: “the Lord provides the way of escape.” (1 Cor 9)

He arms us with His Word and all the various ways He gives it! His Word sends the devil packing. Jesus’ Baptism “rescues from the devil.” His “keys of the Kingdom!”—His Absolution locks the gates of hell—“they can’t prevail against His Word!” His sermons, His Bible, each in their own way, are “the sword of Spirit.” “He destroys His enemies with the rod of His mouth.” (Ps 2) His Supper sustains us in the fight, it unites us with Him and He with us. “Whoever eats My flesh and eats My blood remains in Me and I in him, and I will resurrect him.”(Jn 6) His Supper is “for the forgiveness of sins.”

((Conclusion.))

“LEAD US NOT INTO TEMPTATION” IS ANSWERED IN JESUS.

You need it be. The devil comes “daily and much” to tempt you, the world does, too. You flesh wants, too! “Who will deliver you from this body of death?” Jesus does. Jesus has Jesus will.

You’re not left on your own. Jesus doesn’t expect you to win. He gives “the weapons of righteousness for the right hand and for the left.” You’ve got the 5th Petition of course. His Father hears that prayer. He’s our Heavenly Father, too—adopted so in Baptism.

The Father doesn’t just answer the 5th Petition by fiat—He gives the means! He gives His Word. He gives His Gifts: Baptism, Absolution, Gospel Sermons, and the Supper of His Son’s body and blood.

He answers this prayer in Matthew 4. He answers that prayer when you ask Him, too. He answers that prayer in the Word and in the Gifts. Stop trying to ignore temptation, pray it away, cover it up, certainly stop satisfy it—whatever other tricks you try. It’s not solved and answered by you.

“LEAD US NOT INTO TEMPTATION” IS ANSWERED IN JESUS.

His Word and Gifts, too.

᛭ INI ᛭

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