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When You Call to Him

Gospel,Matthew 4:1-11

Rev. Kurt Hering

Lent 1: Invocavit:
Trinity Lutheran Church  
Layton, Utah

Play MP3 of this sermon

Sun, Feb 26, 2012 

Preaching to the saints of the Lutheran Church at Christ-Elkhart and Faith-Hugoton in Kansas since February 8, 2015. All sermons prior to that date were preached either at Trinity Lutheran Church-Layton or First Lutheran Church-Tooele, Utah.

Today is Invocavit, "Call on Him," Sunday in the life of Christ's Church. To hear the sermon preached at Trinity Lutheran Church at Layton, Utah based upon the Gospel for Invocavit, Matthew 4:1-11, "When You Call to Him," click on the mp3 audio link provided above.

The audio recording begins with the Old Testament reading, and includes the Hymn of the Day, LSB #569,"In Adam We Have All Been One." The sermon begins at 14:20. The audio continues through the Prayer of the Church; skips to the Cummunion Hymn--LSB #458, vv. 2-7, w/o Alleluias, "Christ Jesus Lay in Death's Strong Bands"; and concludes witht the Benediction.

Have a blessed week as the dearly beloved children of God in whom He is well pleased.

A servant of the Word and His people,

Pastor Hering

The preaching transcript follows below if you prefer to read along, or read instead.

Dearly beloved, children of God in whom He is well pleased, 14:20

That is what your Baptism means—that you are His children and in you His well pleased-- because that is what Baptism in the name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit does. It makes you well and it makes you pleasing to God by washing you clean of all your sin that is unpleasing to Him and that makes you unwell—that is to say, that makes you dead.

But having been buried with him in baptism [Paul writes to the Colossians in chapter 2] , in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead. And you, who were dead [that's pretty unwell] in your trespasses …, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. Colossians 2:12-14

Your Baptism-- the Baptism commanded and instituted by Christ for the apostles and the ministers of His holy Christian Church to go and take to all the sinners in all the nations of the world in the name of the Father, and of the + Son, and of the Holy Spirit; that one Baptism into the one faith and the one hope [Ephesians 4:5-6] in the one God who is the one Savior that we all share and have in common—has buried you into the depths of Jesus. It has buried you into the depths of His death and into the depths of into the depths of His grave and into the depths of hell itself, where all of the evil and filth of your sin and mine against our neighbors and all of our trespasses against God Himself and His holy Word that make you and I unpleasing to Him—all of those are left behind in those depths from which Christ has risen. For in your Baptism, though the rite at the font is long over or most of you, and the water no longer drips from your brow, you have been raised with Jesus through faith into the kingdom of heaven. Continuing to live in your Baptism you are still baptized.

That's what faith is: being baptized; living baptized; always baptized. Faith is remaining and abiding and being satisfied with Jesus after being buried into the depths of His life and His very heart—a life and heart that, unlike yours and mine, has remained without any sin of His own, though tempted in every way like you, and then some; a life and heart that has been raised from all that sin of yours and mine; raised from an entire age and world of sinners into the kingdom of heaven where He sits at the right hand of the Father. And so, Baptized into this Jesus, you and I are also Baptized into His Father and into His Spirit—and into the heaven wherein they all live and reign to all eternity, forever and ever, one God. Amen.

That was easy!

Hardly. It was easy to have that water poured over us. It was easy to hear that name placed upon us. It was easy to hear that our sins were forgiven. But we see how hard it was for the Christ, the Son of the living God in our Gospel text today.

Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And after fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. And the tempter came and said to him, "If you are the Son of God," Matthew 4:1-3a

According to Matthew, in the last verses of the chapter preceding our text and just prior to His wilderness temptation Jesus was baptized, immediately he went up from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened to him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him; and behold, a voice from heaven said, "This is my beloved Son with whom I am well pleased." Matthew 3:16-17

You see here is the prototype for our Baptism. We have here at Jesus' baptism the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit; who from the very beginning and before have always have been Father , Son, and Holy Spirit—have always been one God. Where One is the others are, for they are One.

This is what goes on right before His temptation. In fact, Mark's account of the same events says upon hearing these very words of His Father in heaven, The Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness. Mark 1:12

Immediately after hearing His own Father in heaven say that He, Jesus, is God's beloved Son, the evil angel who has been cast out of heaven tempts the Son of God with that little word, "If."

This is very similar to a little word this evil one first used with Eve in the Garden, as we heard in our OT text.

Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, "Did God actually say, '…'?" That's an "if" right there, isn't it?

If You are the son of God, [Jesus]. Did God actually say [to you, Adam and Eve who were created in His image]?

If? Did? Herein--in these little one-word questions--lies the root and the very essence of sin.

Eve, under the pastoral supervision of her husband Adam, fell into the trap laid by Satan with this little word. She didn't go back to the source of the Word to answer the one little word added by the evil one. In fact, in consulting her own recollection of things and seeking the word in her own heart, she added her own word as well. And that was fatal. And it was all the evil one needed to seal the deal—to lead them into temptation and away from God and His Word.

Eve's recollection, her heartfelt words from God, she remembered as:

'You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.'" But the serpent said to the woman, "You will not surely die.

I don't know where the "neither shall you touch it" part come in. But it didn't come from God. And it was misleading to both her and to her husband, because as she says this, the serpent says to the woman, "You will not surely die."

Well, we all know very well, even without the redundancy of today's OT reading, how Eve and her pastor fared that day. And that is our fare as well.

Eve touched the food that her recollection said she shouldn't touch, and when she didn't die she proceeded to eat it. And Adam's watching all this and she still doesn't die. Well, that devil must be right! You won't die when you eat it.

Well, maybe not right away. But God is no liar [Titus 1:2]. We also know that Adam and Eve did indeed die. And that is our fare as well.

When we consult our own minds, when we look into our own hearts for Jesus, rather than to "every word that proceeds from the mouth of God" [Matthew 4:4 via Deuteronomy 8:3 ], we fall into temptation also. We become our own gods. We set our own word, our own thoughts, our own desires above God.

That's what happened with Adam and Eve, and their fare was death. And that's our fare as well.

That is, unless and until we receive a portion of Christ's fare in Holy Baptism. So let us see how the Savior into whom we are baptized fared when faced with that dirty little word from the evil one--"If." "If you are the Son of God." That is to say, "Did God actually say you are His Son?"

"Why, yes! I believe He did," says Faith. And Christ is the Son of God. And He is the faithful One.

Right after hearing this ringing word of His Father that He is His Son in Whom He is well pleased, He's led out into the wilderness:

2And after fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. 3And the tempter came and said to him, "If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread." 4But he answered, [the tempter's, "Did He?" He answered, "Yes!  He answered in faith! He answered,] "It is written, "'Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.'"

[He didn't answer based upon His feelings, one of which was great hunger at the time. No, He answered by the Word of God, which is the living bread from heaven].

5Then the devil took him to the holy city and set him on the pinnacle of the temple 6and said to him, "If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down, for it is written, "'He will command his angels concerning you,' and "'On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.'"

[Again,] Jesus said to him, "Again it is written,.. [Don't give me that if stuff, Satan! There's no if; there's no and; there's no but about it! It is written! God did say!] 'You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.'" [There's no if about God. There's no if about His Son. There's no if about His love for His Son and all of those who are baptized into Him.]

[The devil didn't quit, though.] 8Again, the devil took [Jesus] to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. 9And he said,… [Well, he skipped the "if" this time. He just made the assumption—he made the assumption and answered the "if" himself; placing himself in God's place; placing Himself in the place of the Father, trying to make Jesus His own Son; saying,] "All these I will give [to] you, [as if he, as a father, had all these things to give] if—[oh, now comes the word,] if you will fall down and worship me. [That is to say, if you will admit you are not the Son of God]."

Jesus said to him, "Be gone, Satan! [Be gone, you accuser! Be gone, you tempter! Be gone, you evil one!] For it is written, [There is no, "if."] "'You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.'"

And this is what the Son came to do, to serve only His Father--even though being God Himself--and in so serving Father, serving us as well.

And when He sent Satan packing away from Him by calling on the Word and the very name of God, then the devil left him, and behold, angels came and were ministering to him.

That wasn't easy. That was temptation, and temptation isn't easy. It's pretty. It's beautiful. It's stunningly charming. But it's evil and it is of Satan.

And when you throw all those "ifs," and "dids," and "buts," and "ands" of the devil away and call on the name of the Lord and His holy Word that he has given to you—when you call to Him as His baptized children with whom He is well pleased: that is, when you call to Him for Jesus' sake based upon what He has done for you, and Who He is, and Whose He is, and what His Word actually does, yes, say—no ifs, ands, or buts about it--as we sang with Jesus in our Introit today:

[He] will answer [you]; [He] will rescue [you] and honor [you]. With long life [He] will satisfy [you] and show you [His] salvation. [You] who dwell [as His baptized children] in the shelter of the Most High [that is, in the heavenly places] will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.

When you call upon His name, and call upon His Word as did Jesus in answer to Satan, the angels come and minister to you too, because they are ministering to Christ in heaven and you are in Christ!

Why is that so for you as His baptized children? Because when Jesus was tempted in every way, He relied on every word of God as it comes from, comes with, and returns to His Father, and returns to Him every time--as He comes from, and with, and returns to the Father every time; and has come from and with and returned to His Father every time since before the beginning of the world and will continue to do until after the world is no more.

So being with Jesus in our Baptism means--in our comings and goings--we come from God, and with God, and return to God every time with Jesus. For this Jesus is the Word and the Savior into Whom you are baptized. This Jesus is the Word and Savior that came to you in the water with the Word. And with the same Word that was with the water He comes to you today—forgiving you all of your sin and keeping you with Him forever -- in the name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen

Insofar as this sermon is a true proclamation of the Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ, it belongs to Him and His Church. Therefore its use is free to all who deem it worthy and beneficial.

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