The Glory Has Departed


Norma Boeckler, Artist in Residence

Bethany Lutheran Worship on
Ustream


NT Greek Lessons - Thursdays, 7 PM.

Saved worship files and Greek lessons are at the live worship link.

email: greg.jackson.edlp@gmail.com,
which works as gregjacksonedlp@gmail.com too.

Luther's Sermons, Lenker Series
Book of Concord Selections
Bente's Historical Introductions,
and Martin Chemnitz Press Books

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Invocavit - The First Sunday in Lent, 2015. Matthew 4:1-11





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


Tempted by Satan

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.



Tempted by Satan

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

This was God's will, that Jesus be tempted in the desert. Wilderness is a good word, but it makes us think of wolves and the forest primeval. Instead, this word means a dry place, which is traditionally a place of loneliness and temptation. The desert fathers, Christian monks, sought out places like that.

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. 

Luther pointed out that Jesus did not fast in order to command us to fast. The Medieval Church turned fasting into a command and made people think they earned forgiveness and salvation by fasting. Spiritually, they did more damage to themselves by fasting.

The temptation is great because people fear losing their way of life, and being hungry is a common metaphor for that. That is the emotion that drives people to be greedy and deceitful, the fear of not having enough.

Fear is the emotion that takes over when we do not have faith in God to take care of us. We see the danger signs and faith flies out the window. In fear we react in all the wrong ways, including a despair that keeps us from addressing the problem. 

Often privation drives a new activity, a new way to serve God, perhaps in a new location, or a new vocation. When the teaching business was slowing to a stop, I had time to do some writing projects, such as publishing Luther's sermons on this blog. Now I cannot imagine having the time or eyesight energy to do the same again. Likewise, Thy Strong Word was written during a time of relatively little work.

The garden teaches us how God gives us abundance with so little effort. Very few gardeners have just enough food. Instead, they have so many of this and that, and the sharing begins. I never grew zucchini squash in Midland because everyone else did, and all the gardeners offered us free bags of zucchini.

When we grow vegetables, there are always too many. There are too many for so long that we are happy to have someone else enjoy them. I went to one place and got bags of English walnuts, which were great - but bags of them? I began sharing the extras with the squirrels and soon they followed me around like I was John D. Rockefeller or Marvin Schwan. I stopped raking once because I felt someone was watching. I turned around and it was the squirrel. I went in and got an apple, rolling it up the to rodent. The animal looked at it in disgust, so I went inside and got some walnuts. Those were accepted at once.

One must distinguish between hungry and hungry for walnuts.

Privation for a period of time is temptation, so we have to question whether we should serve Satan with short-cuts or God in trusting Him. So many clergy betray their fellow pastors to please their unbelieving leaders - lying and deceiving to get ahead. They can justify themselves in making the synod stronger (they imagine) but that is not God's justification by faith in Jesus.

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.

Jesus answered the temptation of false teaching by quoting the Word of God. God takes care of unbelievers across the world, but He prospers believers through the Word of God.

Jesus, in His human nature, felt the hunger and felt the temptation. To say He was never tempted is to deny His human nature. That is why He helps us in our temptations. He was tempted in every way but did not sin.

3. The Scriptures present to us two kinds of true fasting: one, by which we try to bring the flesh into subjection to the spirit, of which St. Paul speaks in 2 Corinthians 6:5: “ In labors, in watchings, in fastings.” The other is that which we must bear patiently, and yet receive willingly because of our need and poverty, of which St. Paul speaks in 1 Corinthians 4:11: “Even unto this present hour we both hunger, and thirst,” and 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.

Jesus' temptation reminds us of Scriptural privation in which we bring our flesh into subjection. In such a wealthy society, there are many temptations that people fall into. Luther observed that many of the poor are fat and have better digestions than the rich, because they do not over-indulge. Someone who can afford too much alcohol can spend the rest of his life with a bad liver and misery, because he could afford to do what others cannot.

And wealth brings boredom, alcoholism, and drug abuse, which hard working people can hardly imagine. But economic conditions take away work and make someone feel unwanted and unneeded. That is very difficult to bear, but it leads to other experiences and thankfulness for what God provides in His time.

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. 

Satan quotes the Word of God as if it says one thing, and yet it says another. God's promise of protection does not extend to foolishness. The modern habit of videotaping acts of daring has led to all kinds of injuries, including fatal ones. The adventurous have the greatest share of them, such as the man who had no problems jumping from a tall base with a parachute, 2000 times, except it failed on the 2001st attempt.

This is also warning against the temptation to understand a text the way we want to hear it. Once false teachers offer it a certain way, everyone wants to repeat the error, lest one of their heroes, or a whole group of them, be exposed as false teachers. We speak about lemmings running into the sea, but Lutherans are often like the Garasene swine, throwing themselves into the ocean over a false reading. 

Nothing is clearer than Romans 4, which clearly teaches justification by faith, with Abraham as the example of faith meaning righteousness. But strangest of all, the Synodical Conference constantly cited Romans 4:25 to prove that everyone was justified without faith - "He was raised for our justification." I cannot count how many times I saw that on the Net.

And yet the complete passage says just the opposite of the claim.

Romans 4:16 Therefore it is of faith, that it might be by grace; to the end the promise might be sure to all the seed; not to that only which is of the law, but to that also which is of the faith of Abraham; who is the father of us all,
17 (As it is written, I have made thee a father of many nations,) before him whom he believed, even God, who quickeneth the dead, and calleth those things which be not as though they were.
18 Who against hope believed in hope, that he might become the father of many nations, according to that which was spoken, So shall thy seed be.
19 And being not weak in faith, he considered not his own body now dead, when he was about an hundred years old, neither yet the deadness of Sarah's womb:
20 He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God;
21 And being fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able also to perform.
22 And therefore it was imputed to him for righteousness.
23 Now it was not written for his sake alone, that it was imputed to him;
24 But for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on Him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead;
25 Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification.


Many antidotes protect against such absurd claims, such as knowing that 
  1. The text of the Bible is one unified Truth. Therefore, the Word of God cannot contradict itself and does not contradict itself. If someone says otherwise, we are already on our guard. 
  2. Secondly, if it goes against the plain, simple message of the Word. 
  3. Third. If we can test the claim against many verses and entire sections where the claim is refuted, that claim is utterly false.
And yet the real origin of this false doctrine is not so much the second temptation as the first one - greed and avarice leading people to advance a cause because otherwise they are unemployed and shunned.

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.

This is a an obvious temptation and indicates why so many fall prey to it. Satan is the prince of this world. Those who serve him do very well for a short period of time. Sometimes it is extremely short, only momentary. 

Those who follow Satan possess the material wealth of the world and wield great power. They gloat at the way people covet them, and many do. Ben Stein said to some of his clever friends, "You could do well if you made an honest living instead of defrauding everyone." All those people lived very high and ignored him. Everyone one of them ended up in prison, which means they were really blatant.

Others serve in more subtle ways, sacrificing their entire families in order to be important and powerful. One man did not even talk to his family unless they were on the scheduled conference call. But they had money because he earned it. I tried to teach his angry, spoiled daughter. It was the poor girl in that class who graduated, not the one whose dad was paying for everything but not talking to her in any fatherly way.

Just as God's angels ministered to Jesus, so they do today, with us. They watch over us and protect us. Can anyone count the ways? They protect us and our children, not so that we are reckless, but so we are thankful for all the things that do not happen.

Boston (Japanese) ivy - or wild grape. Birds love it.
The Ivy League loves it.
Groundkeepers hate it - too much abundance.