Jesus Resists Satan: First Sunday in Lent - Mark 1:9-15 / Rev. Ted A. Giese
"Jesus Resists Satan" First Sunday in Lent / Mount Olive Lutheran Church / Rev. Ted A. Giese / Mark 1:9-15
In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. And when He came up out of the water, immediately He saw the heavens being torn open and the Spirit descending on Him like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, “You are My beloved Son; with You I am well pleased.”
The Spirit immediately drove Him out into the wilderness. And He was in the wilderness forty days, being tempted by Satan. And He was with the wild animals, and the angels were ministering to Him.
Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”
Let us pray: May the words of my mouth and the meditations of all our hearts be acceptable in your sight O Lord. Amen.
Grace peace and mercy to you from God our Father and from our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Good Christian Friends. There is an English proverb from the mid 17th century that you know well, I think you may have even used it from time to time, it's not a quote out of the Bible but today we'll think on it in connection to our Gospel reading from Mark's Gospel ... here it goes, "If you want a thing done well, do it yourself." Maybe you've heard it as, "If you want something done right, do it yourself."
In the beginning Moses tells us in the book of Genesis that "God saw everything that He had made, and behold, it was very good." God had made everything in all of creation and He didn't give it to anyone else to do. Together as One the Holy Trinity, God, made it all. John's Gospel tells us that the Word, who was with God, and who was God, and who was in the beginning with God, this Word - who is Jesus - created all things, John says, "All things were made through Him, and without Him was not any thing made that was made." Jesus then with the Father and the Holy Spirit made Adam and Eve and Adam and Eve along with everything else were good, they were very good. Today when we look at the world around us we see many things that are not very good: ISIS beheading Christians and even lighting fellow Muslims on fire to burn them to death if they oppose them and their activities, closer to home we see crimes and violence in the news - murder and abductions and the like. If things were made good in the beginning how did things get so bad?
[The serpent] said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’” But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband [Adam] who was with her, and he ate."
This was the fall into sin, the spot where everything that was good, very good, in the eyes of God lost its goodness, and as Saint Paul said in Romans chapter 5, "sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned," It doesn't seem fair that all people should be saddled with sin because of one man's actions but that is what Moses and Saint Paul tell us, that is what the Holy Spirit reveals to you and I in Holy Scripture and it is true.
There isn't a one of us who lived their life without sin and perfectly resisted the temptations of "the deceiver of the whole world," "that ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan," ... not a one ... well except for Jesus. In today's Gospel lesson we see something interesting. After it's fall into sin God would not look at His creation and say "it was very good," He would not say that He was well pleased with it, and yet in the Gospel of Mark when Jesus was baptized and "He came up out of the water, immediately [Jesus] saw the heavens being torn open and the Spirit descending on Him like a dove. And a voice came from heaven [saying], “You are My beloved Son; with You I am well pleased.”
At the end of the account of Adam's fall into sin God, "drove out the man [from the garden], and at the east of the garden of Eden He placed the cherubim and a flaming sword that turned every way to guard the way to the tree of life," "lest [Adam] reach out his hand and take also of the tree of life and eat, and live forever,” with no hope of rescue from his sin, no hope of redemption.
Where perfect Adam, Adam who was made good, made very good; Where Adam with whom God was well pleased, where Adam had failed, falling into sin, leaving his cursed mark on all of creation someone was going to have stand up to temptation, someone who was also perfect, someone who was very good, someone with whom God the father was well pleased was going to have to succeed where Adam failed - that someone was Jesus.
"If you want a thing done well, do it yourself."
Adam's fall into sin, his buckling in the face of temptation brought sin and death - Jesus' success in the face of temptation, His steadfast fortitude, His faith and trust in His heavenly Father, His humility brought forth grace and life. Adam was driven out of paradise, out of the garden because of his sin, Jesus was driven into the wilderness because of his sinlessness, His perfect innocents. The cherubim, the angels barred Adam's way back into the garden; while Mark's Gospel tells us that the angels were ministering to Jesus in the wilderness. In those days Jesus set right what was marked with sin, cursed with sin, Jesus defeated Satan and was able then to preach to all people that "the kingdom of God is at hand," and so it is.
In 1 Corinthians 15:21 Saint Paul tells us, "For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead." By Adam came death, by Jesus comes the resurrection of the dead. This is the sweet exchange: Jesus in the place of Adam, "the Lamb of God" like that ram caught in the thicket in the place of Isaac, Jesus in the place of the Children of Israel, Jesus in your place.
That English proverb from the mid 17th century that you know well, the one that goes, "If you want a thing done well, do it yourself," that proverb is all law. Because when you tackle temptation it regularly gets the better of you. Not just you, me also, we each and every one of us struggle in the wilderness with temptation and sin. And you know and I know that dealing with temptation yourself doesn't result in "a thing done well," it is, in fact, more like what James says, when he says, "but each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death." Saint Paul knew this and he asked, "Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?" Jesus is the one who saves you, in His baptism He was baptized into your sin - in your baptism you are baptized into His perfection. He took on your sin that you would have His righteousness, His perfection.
In Christ you are a new creation, keep the law - not for yourself but to improve the lives of your friends and loved ones, even your enemies, those who hate you - and when you fail in keeping it, when you give in to temptation in this wilderness, turn to Jesus who kept the law perfectly and in whom true forgiveness is found and you will be forgiven: He is your redeemer. In Christ you are forgiven, His life for your life, you are redeemed. Everything Jesus has done He does well and you are the beneficiary of it, it is all to your benefit and it is very good. Amen.
Let us pray:
Lord have mercy on us, Christ have mercy on us, Lord have mercy on us, “take our minds and think through them, take our lips and speak through them, take our hearts and set them on fire; for the sake of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, Amen.
 Oxford Treasury of Sayings & Quotations, Oxford University Press 2011, pg 411.
 Genesis 1:31
 John 1:1-3
 Genesis 2:15-17
 Genesis 3:1-6
 Romans 5:12
 Revelation 12:9
 Matthew 4:3
 James 4:7
 Genesis 3:24
 Genesis 3:22
 James 1:14-15
 Romans 7:24
 James 1:12
 Colossians 2:14
 Galatians 5:24