Lent 1 – Matthew 4:1-11
The Son of God humbled Himself when He came down from heaven and became man.
God, who created all things, became like His creation. That is true humility.
He was born of the Virgin Mary in a stable, and laid to rest in a manger. That is true lowliness.
God the Father sent forth His Son, down from heaven to earth, to experience suffering, pain and death. That is true love.
Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist and God the Father spoke from heaven, “This is My Son, whom I love, with Him I am well pleased.”
God the Holy Spirit led Jesus out into the wilderness, out into the vale of tears, out into the valley of the shadow of death.
He did not eat. For forty days, Jesus abstained from food. He fasted. He refrained from all earthly pleasures. After forty He was hungry.
The tempter, the great deceiver, the great lyer, came to Jesus in what the devil thought would be His weakest moment, trying to keep Him from doing that which God the Father had sent Him to do, dying on the cross.
The devil wanted to keep Jesus from being the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. That is why he used verses from Holy Scripture to trick Jesus.
The devil wanted to keep Jesus from keeping the Law of God perfectly and accomplishing our forgiveness, life and eternal salvation. That is why He used earthly pleasure, food, power and glory to tempt Jesus.
The devil wanted Jesus to fall into sin, that He would not be righteous, that He would not fulfill all righteousness, that He would not make His righteousness our righteousness.
That is why Jesus said, “Be gone, Satan! You shall worship the Lord your God and Him only you shall serve.”
For if Jesus, the Son of God, had not done what He did at His birth, at His baptism, during His temptation in the wilderness, during His suffering under Pontius Pilate, death on the cross and resurrection from the dead, we and the whole human race would be condemned to hell forever.
If Jesus had not defeated the devil with His words, with HIs death and resurrection, we would experience temporal punishment and eternal damnation forever.
And thanks be to God, Jesus is righteous and holy. He did accomplish God the Father’s good and gracious will for us. Sin, death and hell have no power over us. By what Jesus did and said, they have all been defeated.
And that victory that Jesus won for us in the wilderness, and on the cross is ours. We are victorious, thanks be to God.
In Holy Baptism, the righteousness and holiness of Jesus is ours.
In Holy Baptism, the victory that Jesus accomplished is ours.
In Holy Baptism, everything that Jesus did and said and accomplished, are now accredited to us, as if we had done them.
In Holy Baptism, Jesus has been placed upon us, He has been wrapped around us, and when God the Father looks at us during our earthly life, as we walk through the valley of the shadow of death, as we breathe our last breath and are judged; we will be judged as innocent and perfect and righteous and holy.
Because of our baptism, when God the Father sees us, He sees His Son.
Because of our baptism, when God the Father looks upon us, He sees us doing and as having done everything that Jesus did.
Because of our baptism, God the Father says about us, the same things He said about Jesus, “This is My Son, whom I love, with Him I am well pleased.”
And so, during these forty days of Lent, as we are focusing upon the Ten Commandments, we are reminded that we have not kept them and we are sinners, and we know that in Christ, because of our baptism, we have kept them, we have kept them perfectly, and we are saints, we are holy.
As we focus upon the Ten Commandments, the devil deceives us and lies to us, telling us that we have not kept them, not even a little bit and that God is angry with us, and we fall into despair and great shame.
The devil misleads us into false belief, thinking that because we can’t keep the Ten Commandments, not even a little bit, and we can’t so why even try.
We think to ourselves, with the great deceiver’s encouragement, that if God truly loves us, He will always love us and will forgive us of our sins, no matter how bad we are, no matter how many times we fail to keep the Ten Commandments; and so we fall into great sin and vice, we fall farther and farther away from the loving arms of our God.
But as we look at the Ten Commandments, pray about them, and memorize them, we look at the First Commandment: You shall have no other God’s. This Commandment should turn our hearts and minds to what Jesus said to the devil in the wilderness, “Be gone, Satan! You shall worship the Lord your God and Him only you shall serve.”
These words should encourage us, confident that the devil has been defeated, sin, death and hell have no power over us. God guards and keeps us so that the devil, the world, and our sinful nature do not deceive us or mislead us into false belief, despair, and other great shame and vice. And although we are attacked by these things, we know that we will finally overcome them and win the victory.
These words should strengthen us, knowing that God’s name has been given to us in our baptism, we are His and He is ours. He rescues us from every evil of body and soul, possessions and reputation, and finally, when our last hour comes, He gives us a blessed end, and graciously takes us from this valley of sorrow to Himself in heaven.
These words of Jesus should remind us, encourage us and strengthen us, truly we are blessed, and gladly we fear, love and trust in God above all things.
As we focus upon the Ten Commandments, we should realize that we do not keep them as we should, but out of love for God and neighbor that should be our desire.
We should realize that in our own sinful flesh we do not keep the Ten Commandments perfectly, but in Jesus we do keep them perfectly.
The Ten Commandments are not a curse and a burden.
The Ten Commandments are not fun haters, removing all pleasure from this earthly life.
They are for our good, they show us God’s love for us, they show us what is best for us. The Ten Commandments give us the gift of God, the gift of prayer, the gift of God’s Word and Sacraments, the gift of parents and authority, the gift of life, the gift of marriage and family, the gift of possessions and reputation, the gift of neighbor, and all that we have. God wants the best for us and the Ten Commandments show us He has done and given us just that. Amen.