Jesus Standing in For Us
First Sunday in Lent [c] March 10, 2019
1 And Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness 2 for forty days, being tempted by the devil. And he ate nothing during those days. And when they were ended, he was hungry. 3 The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread.” 4 And Jesus answered him, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone.'” 5 And the devil took him up and showed him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time, 6 and said to him, “To you I will give all this authority and their glory, for it has been delivered to me, and I give it to whom I will. 7 If you, then, will worship me, it will all be yours.” 8 And Jesus answered him, “It is written, “‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and him only shall you serve.'” 9 And he took him to Jerusalem and set him on the pinnacle of the temple and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here, 10 for it is written, “‘He will command his angels concerning you, to guard you,’ 11 and “‘On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.'” 12 And Jesus answered him, “It is said, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.'” 13 And when the devil had ended every temptation, he departed from him until an opportune time.
In the Name of Jesus.
Jesus has just been baptized by John the Baptist. He who is without sin, who needs no baptismal cleansing, John takes him to the water and baptizes him.
“Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world,” says the prophet John as he’s pointing to Jesus.
The sin of the world, your sin, my sin, all sin, he’s been baptized into it. It’s his. The leprosy, the sickness, the blindness, the sin and guilt and shame, he’s taken it all upon himself.
He will go on to touch lepers and heal them. Because, their leprosy he takes to himself. The sick, the paralyzed, he will lift them off their beds. Because the disease and paralysis, he takes to himself. Those guilty of theft and extortion, those who love judging others, he will go to their houses and drink wine with them, because he took all that ugly stuff upon himself. Those living in shame, the woman at the well, any others, he talks with them and calls them “friend,” because their shame now blankets not them, but him. He took it all.
He was baptized into it by the prophet John, who then announced him as, “The Lamb of who takes away the sin of the world.”
The next stop, after being baptized into unity with all sinners, is his trip to the wilderness. The innocent Lamb bearing the sins of the world, is led by the Holy Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.
We are the ones tempted. He came for us. We are the ones who, as children of Adam and Eve, belong to their fall. We are the ones continually and daily tempted by the devil and his demons; we are the ones not only tempted, but constantly falling to temptation.
None of this temptation by the devil belongs to Jesus, the Holy One. He is faithful to his Father, he hears his Father’s word and receives it as gift, he is without sin—no temptation belongs to him. Only to us.
But he has taken our temptation upon himself. Every temptation we are daily hit with, every temptation we wrestle with, every temptation we fall to, Jesus takes it upon himself. Into this, he was baptized—the Lamb of God taking away the sin of the world.
His overcoming of the temptation, his turning from the seduction of the devil, to the Word of his Father, his love and honor of his Father, he did it all for us. And then, before returning to his Father, he gave us baptism. If in his baptism he who knew no sin is clothed in our sin, in our baptisms, we, who are sin, are clothed in his righteousness.
His overcoming of temptation, his constant trust in his Father’s Word, his love and honor of his Father even in the face of the worst temptation, he accounts it all to us, who have been tempted and fallen, but are now accounted righteous by grace.
If he leaves his baptism with the prophet announcing him as the Lamb of God who is taking away the sin of the world, we leave our baptisms announced as the lambs of God who have had their sin taken away.
The devil said to [Jesus], “If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread.”
“If you are the Son of God,” said the devil. Here is found our temptation to doubt God’s promise of baptism. Jesus, at his baptism, had been announced as the Son of God—the Father’s voice from Heaven saying, “This is my beloved Son.”
The temptation from Satan is to bring doubt to that declaration.
At our baptism’s we are announced as children of the heavenly Father. We can know that every temptation we undergo will ultimately be to seduce us to make ourselves children of God by our own worthiness, by our own decision, by our own power, all the while drawing us away from the way in which God has made us his children, Baptism.
And the devil took [Jesus] up and showed him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time, and said to him, “To you I will give all this authority and their glory, for it has been delivered to me, and I give it to whom I will. If you, then, will worship me, it will all be yours.”
Here is found our temptation to not receive all things as gifts from God, but, as our own little gods, to take them with our own strength; our temptation to grasp power, to prove worthiness, to have authority over others, using God’s law to judge other’s motives rather than our own.
The temptation from Satan is to bring doubt to God’s care for his creatures, including each of us, doubting his promise that in Baptism he is with us even until the end of the age.
And [the devil] took [Jesus] to Jerusalem and set him on the pinnacle of the temple and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here, for it is written, “‘He will command his angels concerning you, to guard you,’ and “‘On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.'”
Here is found our temptation to judge God. To put him to the test. To find the ways that, if God is God, then he should be treating us this way, or he’s not being just.
To these temptations, Jesus responds,
“It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone.'”
“It is written, “‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and him only shall you serve.'”
“It is said, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.'”
The Father gives Jesus his words. It is all by gift. Every temptation will be a temptation to doubt or judge or depart the Word of gift.
So Jesus’ first response of, It is written, and his second response of, It is written, and his final response of, it is spoken, are all a return to the Word given by God.
The Word of God gives the promise, it speaks the sinner clean, it declares the sinner justified, it takes the water up into its use to make the sinner a child of God, and in such a way that the fatherhood of God is never to be doubted.
To little Bruce this morning, the Word is not to be doubted. He belongs to the promise God has publicly spoken in the water and the word. He belongs to Jesus’ defeat of sin and death. He belongs to Jesus’ overcoming of temptation, a victory accounted to him in the water and the word. He is clothed in Christ and made a child of God.
The tempter will bring doubt to that. But the tempter is overcome by the sureness and certainty of God’s Word of Baptism and the forgiveness of all our sin.
In the Name of Jesus.