Sunday, February 17, 2013

First Sunday in Lent, 2013. Invocavit. Matthew 4:1-11.
The Human Nature of Christ




Invocavit Sunday, The First Sunday in Lent, 2013


Pastor Gregory L. Jackson


Bethany Lutheran Church, 10 AM Central Time


The Hymn #148   Lord Jesus Christ               3:61
The Confession of Sins
The Absolution
The Introit p. 16
The Gloria Patri
The Kyrie p. 17
The Gloria in Excelsis
The Salutation and Collect p. 19
The Epistle and Gradual       
The Gospel              
Glory be to Thee, O Lord!
Praise be to Thee, O Christ!
The Nicene Creed p. 22
The Sermon Hymn # 146               Lamb of God                        3:62


The Human Nature of Christ

The Hymn # 153                 Stricken Smitten                  3:63
The Preface p. 24
The Sanctus p. 26
The Lord's Prayer p. 27
The Words of Institution
The Agnus Dei p. 28
The Nunc Dimittis p. 29
The Benediction p. 31
The Hymn # 154     Alas and Did My Savior             3:14

KJV 2 Corinthians 6:1 We then, as workers together with him, beseech you also that ye receive not the grace of God in vain. 2 (For he saith, I have heard thee in a time accepted, and in the day of salvation have I succoured thee: behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.) 3 Giving no offence in any thing, that the ministry be not blamed: 4 But in all things approving ourselves as the ministers of God, in much patience, in afflictions, in necessities, in distresses, 5 In stripes, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labours, in watchings, in fastings; 6 By pureness, by knowledge, by longsuffering, by kindness, by the Holy Ghost, by love unfeigned, 7 By the word of truth, by the power of God, by the armour of righteousness on the right hand and on the left, 8 By honour and dishonour, by evil report and good report: as deceivers, and yet true; 9 As unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and, behold, we live; as chastened, and not killed; 10 As sorrowful, yet alway rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing all things.

KJV Matthew 4:1 Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil. 2 And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was afterward an hungred. 3 And when the tempter came to him, he said, If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread. 4 But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God. 5 Then the devil taketh him up into the holy city, and setteth him on a pinnacle of the temple, 6 And saith unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down: for it is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning thee: and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone. 7 Jesus said unto him, It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God. 8 Again, the devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain, and sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them; 9 And saith unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me. 10 Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve. 11 Then the devil leaveth him, and, behold, angels came and ministered unto him.

First Sunday In Lent

Lord God, heavenly Father, inasmuch as the adversary doth continually afflict us, and as a roaring lion doth walk about, seeking to devour us: We beseech Thee for the sake of the suffering and death of Thy Son, Jesus Christ, to help us by the grace of the Holy Spirit, and to strengthen our hearts by Thy word, that our enemy may not prevail over us, but that we may evermore abide in Thy grace, and be preserved unto everlasting life; through the same, Thy beloved Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Ghost, one true God, world without end. Amen.


The Human Nature of Christ

KJV Matthew 4:1 Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil.

Luther’s initial point about this sermon is the corruption of practice in the church at his time. People were putting on a show about their fasting, and treating it as a good work to earn God’s favor. Thus they were rejecting the atonement of Christ and substitution their own parade of virtue, putting on a sad face, and impressing others. This lack of faith was more shameful than gluttony, and it is still reflected in the secular pietism of today. People brag they will not eat meat, but wear leather products from the same source, because “I just cannot give up my shoes and leather accessories.”

The Spirit led Jesus into the desert, called a “dry place” in the original text, but also properly called a wilderness, because the desert was and remains a wild  place, with many dangers from plants and animals alike.


Christ in Matthew 9:15: “When the bridegroom shall be taken away from them, then will they fast.” This kind of fasting Christ teaches us here while in the wilderness alone without anything to eat, and while he suffers his penury without murmuring. The first kind of fasting, one can end whenever he wills, and can satisfy it by food; but the other kind we must observe and bear until God himself changes it and satisfies us. Hence it is much more precious than the first, because it moves in greater faith.

As many people have observed, when all goes well, we take it for granted and expect things always to be the same. We are less productive. In sales we used to laugh at ourselves, going slack after a couple of good weeks, then working overtime to catch up. The postwar Baby Boom made every mainline denomination  feel successful, building new Sunday School space and larger worship areas. Fifty years later, they began to close down those larger areas to help pay the utilities.

The members who attend the most have experienced the drought of traditional Christian worship. They know what they have missed and do not take it for granted. Ministers who have missed the thrill of the bureaucracy get the chance to study the Word and the Confessions in a concentrated way, without worrying about which faction they will offend if they say this or that. That does not make life easier but more fruitful.

Once, when it rained every day for a long time in Columbus, I cut the rose blooms off the bushes, about one dozen a day. No matter how many I cut, I always had more the next day – because of the rain and the pruning. They went to neighborhood homes and the workplace, and produced an effect there, too. One woman got so many roses that her husband finally sent her roses at work, because he learned how much she enjoyed the free ones brought each day. That thrilled her, because her husband learned how to be more thoughtful from a positive experience.

Privation forced upon us, accepted in faith, make us more fruitful because we look for ways to turn bad experiences into something worthwhile. “What men meant for evil, God meant for good.”

KJV Genesis 50:19 And Joseph said unto them, Fear not: for am I in the place of God? 20 But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive.

This is a constant theme in the New Testament, with the Human Nature of Christ subjected to the difficulties and trials of accepting His divine mission. This is especially emphasized in John’s Gospel, where we find the dual message of Jesus speaking and doing what God the Father commanded, but doing so willingly. Because of His Human Nature, He is the ultimate example for us, since everything He did led to the cross, but the cross redeemed mankind, bringing the blessings of the Gospel to millions upon millions.


God, who was able to nourish Christ forty days without any food, can nourish also his Christians.

6. Secondly, this is written for our admonition, that we may in the light of this example also cheerfully suffer want and temptation for the service of God and the good of our neighbor, like Christ did for us, as often as necessity requires it; which is surely accomplished if we learn and confess God’s Word. Therefore this Gospel is sweet consolation and power against the unbelief and infamy of the stomach, to awaken and strengthen the conscience, that we may not be anxious about the nourishment of our bodies, but be assured that he can and will give us our daily bread.

2 And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was afterward an hungred.

People do not accept hunger very well. On the cruise ship Victorious, people were given plenty of food, but under difficult circumstances. Ships came up and sent it to the waiting thousands. Lines were long and wait-times could be three hours. The result was food hoarding (as if they might starve?) and some fighting as well.

It was pointed out often that soldiers give up far more comforts than these vacationing tourists, but that is Luther’s point. When we volunteer to fast, it is less difficult than having it forced upon us. The sudden loss of comfort and security tempts our faith in God.
That should not lessen our admiration for soldiers who volunteer for duty and know they will face all these dangers. Even the superstar SEALs are mortal, feel the cold, the wounds, and the privation. A remarkable example of that is found in Lone Survivor, by Luttrell.

This verse shows us that Jesus fasted for 40 days and was famished, but there was no food to be found.



3 And when the tempter came to him, he said, If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread. 4 But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.


7. But as to how temptation takes place and how it is overcome, is all very beautifully pictured to us here in Christ. First, that he is led up into the wilderness, that is, he is left solitary and alone by God, angels and men, by all creatures. What kind of a temptation would it be, if we were not forsaken and stood not alone? It is, however, painful when we do not feel anything that presents its back to us; as for example, that I should support myself and have not a nickel, not a thread, not a twig, and I experience no help from others, and no advice is offered. That means to be led into the desert and to be left alone. There I am in the true school, and I learn what I am, how weak my faith is, how great and rare true faith is, and how deeply unbelief is entrenched in the hearts of all men. But whoever has his purse, cellar and fields full, is not yet led into the desert, neither is he left alone; therefore he is not conscious of temptation.

Luther did not find works contributing to salvation, and published against the entire, unified tradition of the Medieval Church. There was no alternative, except for such exceptions as Huss – burned at the stake for being a false teacher.

So he too was in the wilderness, alone, with a few voices saying to him, “Are you the only one right? And you, a young monk, dare to say that Holy Mother Church is wrong? The Holy Spirit chosen pope is wrong? The theologians are wrong? Your monastic superiors are wrong? We have worshiped falsehood for century upon century? Who are you to question Aquinas and Jerome, Ambrose and Jerome, the visions and teachings of our sainted leaders?”

Anyone who recognizes false teaching is led by the Spirit into the same desert, to remain year after year, decade after decade. For those who are new at this, it is the shock of hearing family and friends, classmates and fellow workers say, “You are wrong.” Or they slip silently away. Or they smirk as they repeat their falsehood in public, as if to say, “I am distancing myself from x.”

This forces us into more and more study, which is quite fruitful, just as Bunyan’s life in prison produced so many best-selling Christian classics, the most famous being Pilgrim’s Progress.


10. Thirdly, behold how Christ resists this temptation of bread, and overcomes; he sees nothing but stones and what is uneatable, then he approaches and clings to the Word of God, strengthens himself by it and strikes the devil to the ground with it. This saying all Christians should lay hold of when they see that there is lack and want and everything has become stones, so that courage trembles, and they should say: What were it if the whole world were full of bread, still man does not live by bread alone, but more belongs to life, namely, the Word of God. The words, however, are so beautiful and powerful that we must not pass over them lightly, but carefully explain them.

11. These words Christ quotes from Deuteronomy 8:3, where Moses says: “Thy God humbled thee, and suffered thee to hunger, and fed thee with manna, which thou knewest not, neither did thy fathers know; that he might make thee know that man doth not live by bread only, but by everything that proceedeth out of the mouth of Jehovah doth man live.”

That is as much as to say: Since God permits you to hunger and you still continue to live, you ought indeed to grasp the thought that God nourishes you without bread through his Word; for if you should live and sustain yourself by bread alone then you must continually be full of bread. But the Word, that nourishes us is, that he promises us and causes it to be published that he is our God and desires to be our God.

12. Thus now the meaning of Moses and of Christ is: Whoever has here God’s Word and believes, has both blessings; the first, where he is in want and has nothing, but must suffer hunger, that Word will sustain him, so that he will not die of hunger nor perish, just as well as if he had abundance to eat; for the Word he has in his heart nourishes and sustains him without eating and drinking. But has he little to eat, then a bite or slice of bread will feed and nourish him like a kingly meal; for not only bread but the Word of God also nourishes the body naturally, as it creates and upholds all things,
Hebrews 1:3. The other blessing he will also enjoy, namely, that finally bread will surely be at hand, come whence it will, and should it rain from heaven like manna where none grows and none can grow. In these two thoughts every person can freely trust, namely, that he must in time of hunger receive bread or something to eat, or if not, then his hunger must become so moderate and bearable that it will nourish him even as well as bread does.


So many have said to me, “I need the bread more than the Word.” They do not choose those words, but make excuses for abandoning a clear confession of the truth, as if God is weak and the synod is strong. And yet we are all weak in this regard. As Luther said, it shows us how weak our faith is. While Jesus never doubted, we do. And those who fall away always have the chance to return to the Word of God.

However, making up reasons against the Word is that very process of blinding and hardening that the Scriptures warn us against in so many ways. Those are the same verses people would rather skip over – to see and not see, to hear and not hear, lest they understand and be saved.

5 Then the devil taketh him up into the holy city, and setteth him on a pinnacle of the temple, 6 And saith unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down: for it is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning thee: and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone. 7 Jesus said unto him, It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.

This temptation is a great one, as if to say to God, “I will believe in You and in Your gracious will, if You do things my way. Since God says in Isaiah 55, “My ways are not your ways and My thoughts are not your thoughts,” this is a constant problem.


18. And this very appropriately follows the first temptation. For where the devil feels a heart trusts God in times of want and need, he soon ceases his temptation of bread and avarice and thinks: Wait, wilt thou be very spiritual and believing, I will assist you: He approaches and attacks on the other side, that we might believe where God has not commanded us to believe, nor wills that we should believe. For example, if God gave you bread in your homes, as he does yearly everywhere in the world, and you would not use it, but instead you would cause need and want yourselves, and say: Why, we are to believe God; I will not eat the bread, but will patiently wait until God sends me manna from heaven. See, that would be tempting God; for that is not believing where all is at hand that we need and should have. How can one believe that he will receive what he already has?

Luther also points out that this temptation is behind people taking unnecessary risks, as if God will protect them. There is a name for this, when people see so many surviving from risky behavior and do the same. I told a cab driver the same thing, “All the survivors think they can drive and talk on a phone. You don’t hear from the rest. Pull over or stop talking, now.”

8 Again, the devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain, and sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them; 9 And saith unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me. 10 Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.



24. For whom the devil cannot overcome with poverty, want, need and misery, he attacks with riches, favor, honor, pleasure, power and the like, and contends on both sides against us; yea, “he walketh about,” says St.

Peter in 1 Peter 5:8, so that if he cannot overthrow us either with suffering or love, that is, with the first temptation on the left or the third on the right, he retires to a higher and different method and attacks us with error, blindness and a false understanding of the Scripture. If he wins there, we fare ill on all sides and in all things; and whether one suffers poverty or has abundance, whether he fights or surrenders, all is lost. For when one is in error, neither patience in misfortune nor firmness in prosperity helps him; seeing that in both heretics are often powerful and the devil deliberately acts as if he were overcome in the first and last temptations, although he is not, if he has only won in the middle or second temptation. For he lets his own children suffer much and be patient, even at times to spurn the world; but never with a true and honest heart.

We see this constantly today, as the heretics brag about their riches as they boast about their false teaching. They have something new and different, each one says, and they alone have discovered this truth.

The latest, which is not new at all, is Emergent Church – trying hard to blend with current culture. So what do they say to be so appealing? They talk about themselves a lot, which is quite entertaining for the sheep. They deny the basic articles of the faith, ignore sin, and use “love” and “grace” in the wrong way. The worst heretics like to talk about God’s grace, including it in their title (Time of Grace, Grace Place, GracePoint) or the cross (CrossWalk, CrossRoads, CrossWays) while denying the Biblical message, It seems to work for a time, so they glory in it, fulfilling Satan’s temptation.

If there are officials in a supervisory capacity, they go along with it, because of the money and their own lack of faith.

11 Then the devil leaveth him, and, behold, angels came and ministered unto him.

We should not overlook this verse. God’s angels took care of Jesus when no food was to be found. This is our example. Jesus indeed could have created what He needed, as Satan encouraged Him to do. But here He is an example of God providing, as God provides for us. Angels in human form and unseen angels provide for us and protect us.



27. At last angels approached and served him. This must have taken place in a literal sense, that they appeared in a bodily form and gave him to eat and drink, and just as at a table, they ministered to all his wants. For the service is offered outwardly to his body, just like, no doubt, the devil, his tempter, also appeared in a bodily form, perhaps like an angel. For, seeing that he places him on the pinnacle of the temple and shows him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment, he must have been a higher being than a man, since he represents himself as a higher being, in that he offers him all the kingdoms of the world and permits himself to be worshiped. But he surely did not bear the form of the devil, for he desires to be beautiful when he lies and deceives, as St. Paul says of him in 2 Corinthians 11:14: “For even Satan fashioneth himself into an angel of light.”

28. This however is written for our comfort, that we may know that many angels minister also to us, where one devil attacks us; if we fight with a knightly spirit and firmly stand, God will not let us suffer want, the angels of heaven would sooner appear and be our bakers, waiters and cooks and minister to all our wants. This is not written for Christ’s sake for he does not need it. Did the angels serve him, then they may also serve us.


INVOCABIT

Temptation


"He shows, moreover, that it is customary in Scripture to call temptation and tribulation in this life a fire. As the furnace tests the vessels of the potter, so also tribulation tests unjust people."
Martin Chemnitz, Examination of the Council of Trent, trans., Fred Kramer, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1986, III, p. 254. 1 Corinthians 3:15.

Sins Against the Third Commandment

"The sins which militate against the Third Commandment are the profanation of the Sabbath through neglect and contempt of the ministry, through Judaic and superstitious observance of the Sabbath, or through a shifting of the ministry into the kingdom of this world. The faithfulness of those who teach is the virtue by which the ministers of the Church, aware of their modest skill in Christian doctrine, carefully and zealousy discharge and steadfastly protect all the duties of the faithful dispenser of the mysteries of God in teaching, debating, comforting and setting their hearers an example of true devotion and of all the virtues. The other extreme are faithlessness, heedless teaching or negligence in office, or deserting the ministry because of excessive anxiety or concern over one's own weakness."
David Chytraeus, A Summary of the Christian Faith, (1568), trans., Richard Dinda, Decatur: Repristination Press, 1994. p. 71f.      

"Those, however, who set the time, place and measure, tempt God, and believe not that they are heard or that they have obtained what they asked; therefore, they also receive nothing."
Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed., John Nicholas Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, III, p. 172.  
"So it is with all Christian; where faith is not continually kept in motion and exercised, it weakens and decreases, so that it must indeed vanish; and yet we do not see nor feel this weakness ourselves, except in times of need and temptation, when unbelief rages too strongly; and yet for that very reason faith must have temptations in which it may battle and grow."
Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed., John Nicholaus Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, V, p. 254.                 

"That temptation occurs before God's Word is heard; this after we hear the Word, namely thus: when we know that God has promised help in the time of any trouble, but are not content with it, go forward and will not abide His promise, but prescribe time, place, and manner for His help; and then if He does not come as we expect and desire, faith vanishes."
Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed., John Nicholas Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, I, p. 366.  

Faith Is Trust

"He who holds fast to the Word alone, trusts and abides in it, does not doubt that what the Word says will come to pass; he who does not dictate aim or time or means and ways, but resigns all freely to God's will and pleasure as to when, how, where, and by whom He will fulfill His Word; he, I say, has a true living faith which does not nor cannot tempt God."
Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed., John Nicholas Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, I, p. 367.  

Nature of Faith

"The second characteristic of faith is that it does not desire to know, nor first to be assured whether it is worthy of grace and will be heard, like the doubters, who grasp after God and tempt Him. Just as a blind man runs against a wall, so they also plunge against God, and would first gladly feel and be assured that he can not escape out of their hands."
Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed., John Nicholaus Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, V, p. 66.                 


Power of Faith

"Behold, so powerful is faith, to obtain all it wants of God, that God considers it done before the asking. Of this Isaiah says, 65:24: 'And it shall come to pass that, before they call, I will answer; and while they are yet speaking, I will hear.' Not as though faith or we were worthy of it, but in order that he might show His unspeakable goodness and willing grace, thereby to stir us to believe in Him, and comfortingly look to Him for every good thing, with joyful and unwavering consciences, which do not stumble after Him nor tempt Him."
Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed., John Nicholaus Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, V, p. 69.  

[ye shall be sorrowful, but your sorrow shall be turned into joy] "This is spoken to all Christians, for every Christian must have temptations, trails, anxieties, adversities, sorrows, come what may. Therefore He mentions here no sorrow nor trial, He simply says they shall weep, lament, and be sorrowful, for the Christian has many persecutions. Some are suffering loss of goods; others there are whose character is suffering ignominy and scorn; some are drowned, others are burned; some are beheaded; one perishes in this manner, and another in that; it is therefore the lot of the Christian constantly to suffer misfor- tune, persecution, trials and adversity. This is the rod or fox tail with which they are punished. They dare not look for anything better as long as they are here. This is the court color by which the Christian is recognized,and if anyone wants to be a Christian, he dare not be ashamed of his court color or livery."   
Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed. John Nicholas Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, III, p. 79.  

Temptation Tests People
"When the Gospel begins to assert its influence, everybody wants to become a Christian. All seems well, and everybody is pleased. But when a wind or rainstorm of temptation comes on, people fall away in droves. Then sectaries arrive, as worms and bugs, gnawing and polluting the fruits of the Gospel, and so much false doctrine arises that few stay with the Gospel."   
What Luther Says, An Anthology, 3 vols., ed., Ewald Plass, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1959, I, p. 37. John 4:46-54.              



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