Monday, February 15, 2016

Swindling the Devil

4:1 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.
Luke 4:1-13 (ESV)
And When the devil had ended every temptation, he departed from him until an opportune time.
The reading for the First Sunday in Lent and we commemorate the fasting and temptation of Jesus. The story of which is told here by Luke. Jesus has been anointed by the Holy Spirit, blessed and consecrated for the work of salvation in baptism, and now he meets the temptations that men have met and succumbed to for millennia, he stands the test that men have failed over and over again, the test that Israel failed in their journey through the desert where they grumbled and chafed and worshiped false Gods. Now Jesus shows just what he is willing to go through for you, just what he thinks your soul is worth. Behind every one of these temptations is the temptation do take a different path than the one the Father has laid out for him, a path different from the one that goes to the cross. He meets the devil and refuses to sell your soul.
I mean, I read about Jesus being tempted by the devil in such a manner, and a person has to think of Faust. I begin for a second to wonder what it would be like to meet the devil in such a manner. Would I trade my soul for a loaf of bread after forty days fasting? What would I trade for all the kingdoms of the world? For fame and fortune? But then instantly I’m given to see how dumb he question is. I mean really what do you consider your soul to be worth? A loaf of bread after forty days of eating nothing? I’ve Esaued my birthright for a bowl of porridge a hundred times over for a lot less, and so have you.
These temptations that Jesus meets with the devil are so fantastic because he is the son of God, they wouldn’t even have been options if he wasn’t. Only the Son of Man could turn stones into bread. But for the Son of God all the kingdoms of the world aren’t really the devil’s to give. And earthly fame and fortune doesn’t compare with the glories of heaven. You and I on the other hand, we meet these temptations day in and day out on a far lesser scale and fail miserably. For what is your soul worth?
Think about this, every time you sin, you trade your soul and make a pact with the devil. Every time you sin you sell your soul to the devil and bargain whatever it is you wanted for an eternity in hell. I mean essentially that is what you say. That you would rather spend an eternity in hell than let your coworker go without hearing in no uncertain terms just what it is you think about him or her. That you would rather spend an eternity suffering the fires of hell than let your ego be slighted. What is your soul worth think about the last sin you can remember committing. It was worth that, that is what you sold it for. And every time you commit a sin like that, talk back to your mother, let anger get the worst of you, let lust run rampant in your head? Every time the devil is dancing for joy and telling God, “Oh, yes Lord, yes Lord they are mine now, don’t you see, Bror sold his soul to me for a bowl of porridge! Don’t you see God, just fill your name in the blank here, sold his soul, sold her soul to me, I gave them what they wanted and now their soul belongs to me!” But it is just then that Jesus looks over at the Devil and says, “I’m sorry Satan, but I believe you’re a little confused. Yes, you may have gotten them to sell their souls, but the problem is, if you would so kindly remember, their souls aren’t theirs to sell. Don’t you remember I stood the test in the desert, I managed where they had failed as so many times before, I stayed true to the path the Father laid before me. I went to the cross and paid for their souls, paid their debts, with my holy precious blood, paid for their sins with my innocent suffering and death. See Satan, You’ve been swindled! It wasn’t Bror’s soul to sell! It was mine all along, and I’m not selling it to you, he belongs to me! I bought him, I claimed him in the waters of baptism and even now I forgive his sins and sanctify his life with my body and blood. He can’t sell his soul, because he doesn’t own it. I do! And I happen to think it’s worth more than a loaf of bread even if he doesn’t. I happen to think it is worth more than all the kingdoms of the world. I think it is worth more than all the fame and fortune the world can give. “

Now the peace of God that surpasses all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen. 

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