Invocavit (Lent 1 - 2016)
Delivered By
Pr. Mark D. Lovett
Delivered On
February 14, 2016
Central Passage
Matthew 4:1-11

In the name of the FATHER and of the + SON and of the HOLY SPIRIT.

With Jesus the devil does not get what he wanted.

The title “devil” means “slanderer”. The devil attempted to slander Jesus by causing Him to sin. This is what the devil does. He did it to Eve in the garden. Eve had the word of God yet the devil preached a false sermon and Eve succumbed to temptation. That’s how it always goes. The devil preaches a false and misleading sermon and we are led into temptation.

The devil wants you to sin. He wants to accuse you before God. So he is also called “Satan” which means “adversary” or “accuser”. Just as he did with Job before God. He accused Job of being righteous only because Job had the blessings of God. But Job was righteous not because he was blessed by God with good health and good wealth, but because Job believed God’s word. Job was righteous by faith.

So was Jesus, by the way. Jesus was righteous by faith for it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.” Yes, Jesus was inherently righteous because He was not conceived of Adam but of God, but He did not call on this righteousness when faced with the devil’s temptations. He didn’t say, “Get behind me, Satan, I am God!” Rather He appealed to the Word of God to defeat the accuser, the slanderer. Jesus believed God’s Word and so defeated the tempter.

We are attacked by the devil and his hordes daily, even hourly, minute by minute. This isn’t fanciful or Medieval superstition. This, too, is written, especially all over the psalms. And this is fitting because the psalms are our prayers. It is fitting that our prayers acknowledge and cry for relief from God from the constant attacking of the devil. He is a murderer and a liar, and he is relentless in his attacks on the children of men.

And don’t think that he only attacks Christians, as in that old wives’ tale that the unbeliever already belongs to Satan so he leaves him alone. Not at all. He attacks all the children of men because all the children of men belong to God, made in His image. Jesus died for all mankind so that all mankind – man himself – is the devil’s enemy and target. The only difference between a believer and an unbeliever when it comes to the devil is that the believer puts his trust in the word of God and the unbeliever tries to win on his own. That, and a believer will not be a slanderer of others but will cover the sins of others by his love while the unbeliever will slander and hold another’s sin against him. The unbeliever will make the sinner pay for his sins even though Christ has already paid for them on the cross. Holding others’ sins over their head is the work of the devil, of unbelief and is not the way of the gospel.

It is this gospel in which we put our trust and hope in. For our sakes the Lord Jesus suffered the temptation of the devil yet overcame him. For our sakes He died on the cross for the forgiveness of our sins and was raised again for our justification and reconciliation with the Father. This word of God lets us withstand the devil’s accusations and slandering tongue. By the gospel we resist the devil and he flees from us, by the power of the gospel, which is the power and proper preaching of the Spirit of God.

Which is why it is so incumbent upon us to attend to the gospel and hear it and receive it, especially by gathering to Jesus to hear His words at His Holy Supper and receive from Him the forgiveness of sins, life and salvation. For who can have just knelt with the Body of Christ and taken and eaten the body of Christ and have just taken and drank the blood of Christ who cannot then stand firm on the promise of God that we are His and that He desires to give us the kingdom, no matter what the devil may tempt us with? Who can so soon after receive pure and

free reconciliation from God even though your sins be scarlet, and not turn and forgive those who have sinned against him?

This is one of the ways we test the Lord. We receive forgiveness and peace and the promise of the kingdom and then turn to our fellow man and do not offer him the same but expect that he will measure himself against us and live up to our standards. Thus the last temptation is first than the worst because the last temptation is to deny that the love of God covers the sins of all mankind. But it is written: “He died not for our sins only, but for the sins of the whole world.” And also it is written, “Receive others as Christ has received you.”

The devil wants you. He wants you to fall and stumble and sin so that He can accuse you before God and slander you and send you to hell. But with Jesus the devil never gets what he wants. The devil can’t have you because you are buried with Christ and your life is hidden in Christ. You are baptized and here you are, for better or for worse, standing on the promises of God your Savior.

Jesus didn’t overcome the devil’s temptations for His own sake but for your sake, so that you would be spotless before the Father. When it is preached that we cling to Christ alone it meant that we cling to Him for a good reputation before God, which is what forgiveness is. And it is what St. Peter writes about Holy Baptism, that it saves us by a clean conscience before God; a conscience cleansed by the blood of Christ.

With Jesus the devil doesn’t get what he wants. He doesn’t get you. He doesn’t get your reputation before God. He doesn’t get to slander you for your sins. He may throw at you all manner of temptation and doubt, trying to lead you into temptation. But we pray, “And lead us not into temptation.” We pray in this petition that the devil, the world, and our own sinful nature may not deceive us or mislead us into false believe, despair, or other great shame and vice. Although we are attacked by them, we pray we may finally overcome them and win the victory.

And the victory we win is already won in Christ. Don’t argue with the devil, you will lose. Just throw Jesus at him. Hide behind Jesus. He will protect you from the devil’s lies and slander and accusations. He will defend you against all adversity and will make your ways straight and your paths level. He has withstood the devil and the devil has fled from Him. So shall he flee from you.

+ In Nomine Iesu +