Ninth Day Of Lent
February 19, in the year our Lord 2016
LCMS International Center, St. Louis, Missouri
Excuse me, may I have a word with you. I don’t know you that well but it seems that, with all the coming and going, you’re caught in the middle of this fight.
When you see who they are, of course you faithfully turn to keep your eyes fixed on Jesus. But turning your back on that old evil foe is dangerous. He starts pushing your buttons and pulling your strings. He wants you to sound like him. And somehow a part of you is too willing to join in the taunting and the implicit accusation: “If you are the Son of God, make this problem go away. If you were a loving God, you would not allow this disaster. If you love me, why don’t you heal my cancer? What did I do to deserve this? If you had heard my prayer, my brother would not have died? If you are the Son of God, do what I want.” Sometimes you succeed in stopping such sentences before they slip past your lips. But they thread themselves into your thoughts as a if they were a natural part of you.
At that point who can blame you for taking your eyes off Jesus to face that evil one? But when you do you have fallen into his trap as he now accuses you: “If you were a child of God, you would not speak to Jesus that way. If you believed in him you would not have done that sin. He cannot forgive you now. Jesus says, ‘Cast the worthless servant into the outer darkness.’ If you were a Christian you would pray more. God’s not going to listen to someone who’s sinned like you have. If you really loved Jesus, you would not have half the problems you are facing now. If you were...”
Stop! Do not listen to that liar. One little word can fell him. That word is the word of God. Listen to it now: “You shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins. God showed his love for you in this, that while you were still a sinner, Christ died for you. God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son to redeem you. God works all things for good for those who love him and have been called according to his purpose. No one and no thing can separate you from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord” That is the word that sets you free from manipulation and your own natural inclinations. You don’t judge God’s love for you based on your current circumstances. You know God’s love for you because Jesus has laid down his life for you, shed his blood for you, risen from the dead for you, gone to prepare a place for you. And he says to you, “Come.” Of course, he loves you. Listen to him speak to you now: “You are forgiven. I have called you by name, you are mine. No one can snatch you out of my hand. I will never leave you or forsake you. You are my child. I am your Father.” That is the word that acquits you from the accuser’s accusations. Listen to the word of Jesus who loves you. He says to you, “Come.”
The word of Jesus is the word of authority. He who has authority says to one “Go,” and he goes, and to another, “Come,” and he comes. In the wilderness Jesus finally used that authoritative word. He simple said to the tempter, “Go.” And the tempter went. In the end, Jesus will finally use that authoritative word and say to satan, “Go to hell.” So it will be.
But he does not say that to you. To you he says, “Come.” “Come, you who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest.” “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them for to such belong the kingdom of God.” “Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.” The kingdom is yours forever. Amen.