Lent 1—Invocabit 2023 (Mt 4, 1–11; Gen 3, 1–24)

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Yahweh said to the serpent (Gen 3:15), “Be gone, Satan.” (Mt 4:10)

᛭ INI ᛭

The devil, Satan, hates God. He rebelled against God. The devil, Satan, is the ancient serpent in the Garden. He came to draw mankind into his rebellion. It was a call to arms that Adam and Eve, and all of us with them, have gladly heeded. Mankind then and now wants “to be like God, knowing good and evil,” and, does know evil—intimately!—mankind is now evil and not good. Now our flesh is always on the mission of “calling what is evil ‘good’, and calling what is good ‘evil.’” (Is 5:20)

Now, thanks to Adam and Eve, we are stuck, according to our sinful flesh, stuck in the muck, the mire, the mess of our sins, and we are also churning with sinful desires. We are plagued by the temptations that well up, like a geyser, really, from within our sinful hearts. Don’t be fooled by being outwardly “good.” As sinners were like the rivers surrounding East Palestine, OH. They look fine, but they’re full of dead fish and when you scratch the below the surface, deadly chemicals float up. Deadly sins against God and against your neighbor from your sinful flesh.

The Lord’s got a solution to the problem. His final solution is to take on humanity. The Lord takes on our rebellion. He takes on our sin. He takes on our sins against Him and against our neighbor. He claims all this as His own! He becomes man, He claims sinner and sins as His at His Baptism, which took place just before Matthew 4, and He takes them away as the Lamb of God. Besides all that, He’s going to deal with the devil, too.

All that’s laid out in Genesis 3:15. That verse is a promise. It’s the first Gospel Sermon of the Bible. There Jesus speaks this promise from His Father:

“I will put enmity between you and the woman, between your seed and her Seed; He will strike you on the head, and you will strike Him on the heel.”

Jesus is still keeping that Word in Matthew 4 when He goes three rounds with the devil. All the way to Calvary Jesus keeps that Genesis-3:15 Gospel Word, but in Matthew 4 we see that


(I. That’s what He did at Calvary.)

Now, Jesus ultimately did that at Calvary. There He crushed the serpent’s head. There He struck the mortal and final blow. The rebellion was crushed, according to our timing, some 2,000 years ago. And while the war is over, Satan’s rebellion quashed, there are nevertheless some skirmishes still taking place. Like the Battle of New Orleans took place after the Treaty of Ghent, which officially ended the War of 1812. We’re just waiting for the Lord Jesus to reveal Himself, to come again and show the truth—Calvary took care of it all.

Calvary is promised in that Word of Genesis 3:15, and the devil knew it. He tempted Jesus to avoid it. He twisted God’s Word. “Your Father would never let anything happen to You, right? Won’t He ‘command His angels for Your sake’? He won’t even let You ‘strike Your foot against a stone.’” His foot wasn’t meant to be hurt or hindered by a stone, but His foot, His “heel,” would strike home on the devil. “They’ve pierced My hands and My feet!” (Ps 22) The devil got His mortal blow on that heel, but afterward Jesus would come out alive, nail-scarred feet and all, form His stone-sealed sepulcher.

At Calvary Jesus rescued us from the death and the devil. “Through death He destroyed the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil.” (Heb 2) By His death He destroyed the curse of death, and He destroyed the sting of death. “The sting of death is sin.” (1 Cor 15) There He paid for your sins. There He was crucified as a rebel for our rebellion, as sinner for your sinfulness, as transgressor for your transgressions. “He was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities…the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.” (Is 53)



That was Calvary. Satan defeated. Your rebellion, your sins, all paid for. But it wasn’t just at Calvary. The Lord was doing it in Matthew 4 when He was tempted, and He will still do it in our temptations. That’s why Jesus came in the first place:


(II. That’s what He does at temptation, too!)

When the devil tempts, He twists God’s Word. He’s good at it. He did it at the Garden, “Did God really say?” He tries that trick with Jesus, too. Problem is, the devil’s debating the one who spoke and wrote the Word. (A bit pedantic of him…) When Jesus was Baptized, the Father said, “This is My beloved Son.” So the devil says, “Are you really? Are you sure? If you are do…” All the while the devil was trying to get Jesus away from being who He came to be: the one who would crush His head.

But each time Jesus gives a swift kick in response: “It’s written; it’s written; it’s written!” “Be gone, Satan.” Where Adam and Eve couldn’t fast from the tree, Jesus fasted in the wilderness. Where Adam and Eve joined rebelling angels, Jesus wouldn’t use good angels for His own good. Even in the Garden of Gethsemane Jesus says, “Do you think that I cannot appeal to my Father, and he will at once send me more than twelve legions of angels? But how then should the Scriptures be fulfilled, that it must be so?” (Mt 26:53–54) Where Adam and Eve and their children, seek worldly power and glory, Jesus sought His cross to save us from death, hell, and the wrath of God.

We still live in a sea of temptation. It wells up within us! It’s not just the devil enticing us or the world offering pleasure innumerable. Even our own hearts join in! James (1:14) says, “Each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire.” How can you fix your desires? You can’t! You can keep them in check, even unbelievers can do that to some extent, but that is not yet true and real righteousness before God. Even if in someway you’re good, in that moment the devil, in his kingdom of the world, parade before you whatever is “pleasing to your eye,” and seemingly “good for food,” to take part in and consume, setting down the shield of faith (Eph 6), no way to quench that fiery arrow.

So even now


He is for you the way of escape. He is not harsh toward you, condescending, arrogant. He condescended Himself to be tempted for you, “tempted in every way you are, yet without sin.” (Heb 4) (His clean record on temptation counts for you.) He also is your “way of escape.” (1 Cor 10) He crushes the serpent’s head, kills your flesh anew, and silences the lies of the world in His Word and Gifts! Our problem is we keep going at it alone! As if we’ve got to do it or something, but we can’t. (How can you keep expecting different results when you keep trying the same worn out things?)

So, Jesus does it for us in His Word and Gifts. He COMES TO CRUSH THE SERPENT’S HEAD FOR YOU. He comes to crush that little serpentine child in your flesh, too. He comes to forgive your sin. He comes to unite Himself to you and to feed and strengthen you with His body and blood. At drenching Word of Baptism He says, “Be gone Satan, and you, dear child, are mine.” At every Sermon and with every Absolution He says, “Be gone, Satan, and you, dear saint, are forgiven.” At the Supper He says, “Be gone, Satan, and you, dear friend, eat and drink My body and blood for your forgiveness, life, and salvation.”



He did it at Calvary and His temptation. But now, daily and much in His Word and Absolution and Supper, Jesus is doing the same thing, in effect saying, “Be gone, Satan, this one is Mine, not yours, forever.”

᛭ INI ᛭

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