Sunday, February 21, 2010

“A Life Changing Journey” (Luke 4:1-2).

S-1170 02/21/10 1SIL/3C (O) #300; (S) #262; (C) #245

Texts: Deuteronomy 26:1-11; Romans 10:8-13; Luke 4:1-13

Theme: “A Life Changing Journey” (Luke 4:1-2).

Question: “Do you like changes?”


Faithful followers of the Savior, Christ is Risen! He is Risen Indeed! Alleluia! The text for our 1st Sunday in Lent is from the Gospel Lesson: “And Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness for forty days, being tempted by the devil” (Luke 4:1-2).

Introduction: In Nomine IESU

People of God, chosen and beloved I’ve had it. I can’t take it any more. I can’t do this. I am not fit to be a preacher of the Gospel. The temptations are too many and too strong. Life is just too hard in the limelight. It’s time to throw in the towel (have a towel handy to throw) and let someone else take over. It’s time for a change! PAUSE.

Ah…there is change—not an inner change but an external change; it is a life changing journey called Lent. It’s during Lent that I really appreciate the changes this journey provides me and you through our Savior Jesus Christ.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, my opening paragraph could have been written or spoken by anyone of us here today, at different points in our lives, because we are tempted in every walk of life by the master schemer—Satan. But the 40 days journey that Jesus took in the wilderness is for us to bring about the greatest change for our comfort and joy.

Every son of Adam and every daughter of Eve have met their match as they face off the tempter. We think we can overcome Satan. We think we can out smart him. We think we can fight him by our might and muscles. But how foolish we are! Would we enter a pond if an alligator is swimming in it? Would we go into a lions den? Would we play with a Polar Bear? Would we be brave enough to stand in front of hyena? Of course not! We are not that stupid to be a meal for an alligator, a lion, a Polar Bear, or a hyena. But why then do we think that we can face off with Satan?

At times we think we can overcome any temptation by ourselves. But the truth of the matter we can’t. It’s like you and I fighting with the world boxing champ for a 15 round match. How long do you think we would last? How will we look when he is done with us? Of course you know the outcome. By ourselves we are doomed and destroyed.

But thank God that during the 40 days journey of Lent we see the real Champ—Jesus Christ—the Second Adam face the master schemer head on. The first round of this match takes place in our reading today. For 40 days, the devil keeps jabbing at our Lord and Savior. But he couldn’t touch Him. At every punch the devil threw at Him, Jesus stopped him dead called—with one word—the Word of the Living God. He always responded “It is written!”

A little later round two takes center stage. The devil unleashes his first punch by pulling the heart strings of one Jesus’ disciples—Judas who betrayed and turned Him over to the religious authority. In this round the Second Son of Adam, is beaten badly. In the corner you see the blood oozing from every part of His body. The jabs are taking their toll; Jesus is wobbling under the weight of the blows. With every punch, He is disfigured more and more. He is so severely beaten that He is not even recognized. Isaiah paints it this way: “He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief;
and as one from whom men hide their faces. He was despised, and we esteemed Him not”

The devil was smiling. For all particular purposes Jesus, the Second Adam has had it. He is so disfigured and bruised that He can’t even lift His hands up. But hey that is not a problem. The Schemer has help, so they lift Jesus of the mat, and hold His hands up with nails to a wooden beam. The devil is running around and around in jubilation. He thinks I, finally got Him. On that wooden beam, Jesus hangs His head and gives up His Spirit, dies, and laid on a cold slap to rot. PAUSE.

But don’t let that picture fool you. It sure fooled the devil and all his helper in their corner. He thought he was the champion. He was the conqueror of this match. He was happy and dancing. But wait there is still another round. From the bloodied cross and wet mat, Jesus the Second Adam rises ever so slowly but surely. He, who looks defeated and dead, has now defeated death and the devil. He rises as the victor and crowned as the Champion.

This Second Adam, need not 15 rounds to defeat the devil, but only three. And these three rounds are the journey that changes our lives for ever—a change that takes place in our hearts and heads through our Champion Jesus; a change that is brought about to all the sons of Adam and the daughters of Eve who have been beaten again and again through the master schemer—Satan.

That is why Lent is such a joyful time for us. It shows us again our Champion, our Savior and Lord Jesus Christ. As we walk with Him on this 40 days journey we learn from Him what to do. In order to defeat our arch enemy we need the Word. One Word will cause him to run. One Word will make him high tale it out of our lives. One Word makes him squirm. That Word is our armor. (LIFT THE BIBLE UP FOR ALL TO SEE) That Word is our shield. That Word is our strength. One Word from the Scriptures and the devil runs and hides.

This is a victory for Jesus. But what does it do for us? What does it do for you, for me? It guarantees our salvation and eternal life. But, we are constantly under the attack of the devil. But this attack isn’t full frontal. It is the subtle attack of “IF.” (Change my voice as I speak in the voice of the devil) The devil starts in on me, always with that insidious little “if.” If you are God’s child, how come you have so much trouble? How come you’re sick? How come your loved one has cancer, your spouse left you for a younger woman, and your teenager is rebellious. God says He loves YOU! But does He really love you with all of the troubles in your life? Do you really call that love?

What should you do? Look to Jesus the Grand Champion of the greatest dual in the world. “The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work” Holy Scripture tells us (1 John 3:8). In the desert we see this truth in action. On Calvary’s cross, I see this truth complete as Christ forever routed Satan for me once and for all. Now when Satan knocks on my heart’s door, I can by the power of the Holy Spirit say, “AWAY FROM ME Satan!” Satan can’t win when Christ fights for me and alongside me.

Beloved in the Lord, this is our confidence. Jesus’ journey to the cross changes our journey as well. It changes Lent from a dirge that leads to death into a march that leads to celebration victory. Jesus’ journey in the temptations changes our journey in this life from a walk in a minefield into a tiptoe through the tulips. Jesus’ journey to the cross leads us on our journey that leads to life—a changed life.

This gives us purpose. This is why I preach and always will. This is why you live for Christ and always will. We do it, because He did it all! AMEN.

Now the peace…


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