Tag Archives: Baptism

Sermon: Baptized Into Temptation

Mark 1:13 καὶ ἦν ἐν τῇ ἐρήμῳ τεσσεράκοντα ἡμέρας πειραζόμενος ὑπὸ τοῦ Σατανᾶ, καὶ ἦν μετὰ τῶν θηρίων, καὶ οἱ ἄγγελοι διηκόνουν αὐτῷ.

From the baptism of John to the temptation of Satan. God’s Spirit drove Christ. At the river Jordan, Jesus of Galilee was baptized by John. Here was one not needing baptism, descending into the murky waters. His perfection and primacy are demonstrated in the rending of the heavens. The heavens are torn open. Ripped at the descent of a dove and the voice of a Father’s approval. “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.”

From this moment the Son of Man, the sinless spotless lamb begins His ministry. His ministry culminates in another rendering of a heavens. The Historian Josephus tells us that there was a beautiful tapestry “inscribed with all the heavenly spectacle.” This large curtain hung in the temple of jerusalem and in Mark 15:38 we see the work of God, the ministry of Christ in the rending of this fabric heavens. The curtain is torn open. Ripped is the barrier that separated man from God as on the cross, that which separates us from God was removed.

From the moment you passed through the waters of baptism, where God gives you the benefits of this rending of the heavens, you have the benefit of hearing the voice of God declare, “you are my beloved child, with you I am well pleased.” It comes in the words that go like this, “I forgive you your sins in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” The separation between you and God is removed as you are His.

Christ comes up from the waters of the Jordan at His baptism, the Father and the Spirit appear with him and Christ is immediately driven into the wilderness by the Spirit. There He is tempted by Satan for 40 days. He was with beasts and He was ministered to by angels.

Baptism and temptation don’t seem to go together very well. From the waters of washing to the pressure of temptation. The life of Christ doesn’t demonstrate much separation and neither do our lives. As baptized believers one might think that we are delivered from temptation, but I would suggest that evidence in my life is the opposite. The more I lean on my baptismal grace, the more I realize the temptations around me. Temptations and pressures come at us in a variety of ways. Our daily lives are filled with struggles that make our days difficult and threaten to cloud our view of Jesus.

Children face the difficulties of growing up, making decisions, finding friends, listening to parents. Teenagers face the temptations of living for God when the world loudly encourages a life lived for pleasure and self alone. Singles struggle to find their way in a culture that promotes and caters to families and those in relationships. Parents are tempted to take shortcuts in raising children and to forget that Christ is the center. The older generation among us may be tempted in the midst of loneliness and feeling that life is no longer important or worth living.

Temptations abound in this broken world where sin crouches at every door. Life as a child of God is not lived free from temptation. We are not baptized out of temptation. We are baptized in a world of temptation. We are baptized for temptation because in our baptism we find our source of strength to overcome temptation.

Christ faced temptation and perfectly overcame it for you. Jesus, the perfect one who pleases God was born in the likeness of you and me. He is one of us to save us. He endured what you and I endure. He was tempted as we are tempted. He faced the real pressures of a real person in this real world.

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http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mark_1

This small scene in Mark is a glimpse into a large scale onslaught that Christ faced. All of the harsh realities of the wilderness tested the human limits of mind, body and soul. This was a hostile environment where loneliness is oppressive, hunger and thirst are constant companions. The beasts and the angels are all he has for company.

The wilderness in these two verses was not the extent of the temptation of our Lord. Throughout his ministry,  he was burdened by the pressures of ministry as he left his family, was rejected by the town that raised him, he was allured by the praises of crowds who didn’t get it. The wilderness temptation was only a prelude to a deluge of temptation that assailed our lord on his road to the cross.

The first recipients of Mark’s Gospel knew about a life of temptation. Their lives were constant facing pressures to abandon their faith. For some their lives ended in martyrdom. Neros burning of Rome in 64 ad was blamed on the Christians leading to the arrest and condemnation to death of many believers. Talk about temptation they were persecuted for their faith by being clothed in the skins of wild animals only to be torn to pieces by wild dogs. Jesus dwelling with the wild beasts probably had a different ring to it for them than it did for us. Some of the Christians were covered with tar and set on fire to light Neros courtyards and gardens at night.

And what about today? Christians in the Middle East are being killed by Islamic militants. We don’t face death but Christians who are in the world of academics are often considered to be committing academic suicide when they confess a Christian worldview. Our careers and livelihoods are not on the line but we are tempted to quietly live out our faith hoping it will not offend those around us, lest we have to defend our faith. As baptized children of God we are tempted.

Jesus never promised this would be easy. Life with him is a treacherous existence. Parents who baptize their children without looking at the implications of a life with Christ are often playing into Satan’s hands. Same with confirmation. To take a vow and then take a break is only inviting a complacency that could lead to destruction. Our faith is more than a formula, it is a formation. It is a lifetime of walking with the one who walked perfectly for us.

Satan’s cunning invitations trick us all the time. The evidence of our following his deceptive voice is all around us. Husbands and wives cast their marital commitments aside believing the grasses are greener on the other side of the fence. Individuals wallow in self pity because they are convinced bad things only happen to them. Many are fooled into thinking that drugs, alcohol, and sexual satisfaction will solve or help forget serious problems.

What about you? Where is your temptation? Do you know the strength to overcome temptations lies outside of you? D you sometimes feel as if you have been baptized into temptation? Do you know the strength to overcome is found in the one who was baptized and driven into temptation? What you need in your temptations is the one who overcame temptation, living perfectly for you. Died undeservedly for you. And rose triumphant for you.

Our savior withstood the temptation. He did not crumple when faced with the pressures and temptations of this broken world. He endured perfectly so that he could fix it. And fix it he did. By tearing the curtain, the heavenly looking drapery that separated man from God was removed. By tearing the flesh with the piercing of the nails and the spear in the side. Your sins were punished as God tore his sight away from the filth on the cross. The temptations that you have succomed to have lost their power. The accusing luring of the devil cannot take you from that which was won there on the cross for you.

God has seen you in your need. He has seen you like a bent and broken reed. He has promised not to break you. He restores you by sending His son who proclaimed and claims the Gospel for you. The kingdom of God is here. Repent and believe. This is for you a reality. Your repentance and your faith mean gospel for you. Good news for you. Your temptations will come but Jesus has won. So when satan points his finger at you and calls you a failure you can point to the cross and show him where it’s been put. Failures are ended there.

When satan directs his temptations your way, remember your bapstim. Remember you are cleansed and renewed and strengthened by them. His work is washed out as you are in Christ.

Once upon a time, there was a boy who was running across a field on a beautiful day. Suddenly he fell into an old abandoned mine shaft. Down at the bottom the shaft became very narrow and he was wedged in. He couldn’t free himself from the cold, damp, dark, and tight space. Desperate he shouted for help. People came to the top of the mine shaft and reassured him “everything will be all right. we will get you out. God will take care of you…”

None of those well meaning words could free the boy. It was only when they tied a strong rope to a strong man and lowered him into the shaft that the boy knew he was being helped. The mans strong hands grasped the boy’s shoulders and held tight as the two were pulled back to the top of the shaft.

This is what God has done for you. He doesn’t simply coach you from a distance speaking words of encouragement and direction. He doesn’t simply speak calming ineffective words. He has come and grabbed you by the shoulders wrenching you from the predicament of sin. You are rescued from certain demise. Your situation is made right by Him.

Yet still we are facing temptation and we are waiting that final deliverance from this valley. Christ’s return will be a great and glorious, you-won’t-miss-it reality. And on that day with Christ finally and fully satan’s voice will no longer reach us.

Take heart. You are not left alone in this struggle. You are baptized. You are clothed with Christ. God has put Him on you and He is your strength. His goodness is yours.

May you be strong in Him today.

Amen.

This is How to Pray

Sermon on Luke 11:1-13 for Pentecost 10C at Trinity Lutheran Church in Toledo, Ohio

Colossians 2:6-15 Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, 7 rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving. 8 See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ.

Luke 11:1-2, 13 Now Jesus was praying in a certain place, and when he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples.” 2 And he said to them, “When you pray, say: “Father … 13 If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”

howtoprey

This past week I had the honor of representing assistant and emeritus pastors of our Ohio district at the LCMS convention in Saint Louis. Although I enjoyed the company of some old friends and our own Elder Dan Gibson who was representing you and the rest of our circuit, I missed my wife and children terribly. It was pleasantly pointed out to me upon my return by my lovely wife that I had missed 25% of Caleb’s life. Ouch. I have been making it up by holding him as much as possible since my return.

At the convention I received a great view of a difficult way to get something accomplished. Questions were asked, resolutions were sought and, yes we even had a gavel knock from time to time. I heard it said a number of times that there is proof we are God’s Church – in that we are still “in business” after years and decades and centuries and millennia of us “sinners” making decisions to run the Lord’s Church. The will of man is evil continually and our best ideas are often paces away from being abused and perverted into the worse offenses. It is only by the grace of God and His guidance that we could continue and survive and work for him through all our weaknesses. Getting 1200 people representing over 2.2 million people to agree on a decision and direction at one time is a monstrosity of a way to accomplish something.

Thanks be to God we have been granted a means of accomplishing things via prayer to God. And asking, seeking and knocking are the means by which we can communicate our wants needs and desires to the Lord. It doesn’t take any floor committees, resolutions, ⅔ majority, points of order or anything of that sort to bring our prayers to God. All it takes is us approaching His throne of mercy as he graciously invites us through His Son.

“God is more willing to give than we are to receive.” Saint Augustine
In our Gospel lesson today, Jesus gives us a glimpse of prayer that seems to be too good to be true. Especially in comparison to our human machinations for making decisions and requests. Ask, seek, knock. That’s all it takes? If it were so easy, then why do we spend so much time desiring more than we have? Why do we groan through the pains of trials and tribulations if our heavenly Father is waiting to answer our asking, waiting to be discovered by our seeking and waiting to open doors at our knocking? This can’t be all there is to prayer? Not only does it seem too good to be true, but our experience doesn’t bear it to be true. Or does it?

God is our Heavenly father and in these verses we get a clear indication from Jesus that this is how we should talk to God, as dear children talk to their father. Through baptism we enter the family of God and in that family we have the privilege of being able to ask of our father as children ask their fathers, boldly and confidently. As His children we know that our perfect father will not give us a stinging scorpion when we ask for an egg. As his dear children we know that our perfect Father will not give us a venomous snake when we ask for a delicious fish. And this all begins when we enter God’s family through baptism.

Baptized for this moment was the theme for the convention and has been a theme of sorts for the year here at Trinity and in our Church body. Wet with the water and steadied by the Word that we remember daily in our Baptism, we are equipped with all the grace and mercy and God given strength we need to face the world. And along with this grace comes the privilege to ask, seek of God to knock on His door. In this washing of rebirth and renewal comes the ear of our Father waiting to give us all things that we need to support this body and life… and more.

So how and what are we to ask for.

  • Well we have to make sure we do it in the perfect manner or our prayers will be thrown into the invalid category? Right?
  • We have to be in the right frame of mind with the least amount of distractions possible before we come to the Lord in prayer. Right?
  • We have to seek out strength in numbers, the more people praying the same prayer the same way the better chance God will hear and answer. Right?
  • We need to use the proper words and to say them in the proper order. Right?

All these are wrong and more. Not that we shouldn’t seek to be away from distractions, surrounded by fellow Christians, and respectful of God in our prayers, these are good things, but these do not make or break our prayers. They may make or break our prayer habits but they will certainly not put our prayers on top of God’s answer pile. So then how should we pray?

Jesus answers this question for us today. Actually he answered that question for the disciples and the words ring true for us. When you pray, say: “Father…” And so the most important word of prayer. Not Amen, not just, not some other pious word but that simple name we are gifted to call our God, Father. And that simple word brings with it so much good.

You see we have a perfect father, not just a really nice father or a really fun father or a really good father, but a perfect father. And a perfect father knows what his children need before he is asked but a perfect father also enjoys hearing and answering his children’s requests.

There are two ways parents can respond to the news and questions that children often bring to them. Take parent one, perhaps his name is Ryan. Ryan’s children approach him and tell him something they have learned for the first time. Ryan responds as an adult who has been highly educated, far traveled and well read responds without flinching, “of course child, that is the way the world works…” before carrying on with a personal example or further information along the same topic. Parent two, perhaps her name is Kati. Kati’s child approaches and tells her something they have learned for the first time. Kati responds in a completely different way. Her mouth drops open and her eyes widen. It’s as if she has never heard this kind of thing before. The kid’s face brightens, and they feel as if they have truly connected with their mother.

It may seem to be a dishonest reaction to pretend to not know the information brought by a child, but in many ways it is not completely a rehashing of old information. The information through the child’s eyes is being interpreted and experienced in a new fresh way and being shared with one who cares deeply for the child.

So it is with God when we bring our prayers of praise and need to Him, we are talking to the one who knows all. We are talking to the one who suspends the stars in the sky and who keeps our atomic particles sticking perfectly together to keep us from dissolving into space. He knows not only the past and present perfectly, but he also knows what the future holds. And yet he loves to hear us. As perfect parents love to hear their children.

Luke 11:13 If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!
Another thing the name father brings to mind is that we are part of a family. And in this family is the Son of God and when we pray we pray like him. We even pray in the name of Jesus so that as God’s children, He doesn’t see our evil nature standing before him, (as Jesus knows us to be and calls his disciples in the lesson today) but rather than evil us, He sees the perfect died and risen for you – Son Christ, speaking the words we pray.

Colossians 2:6-7 Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.
In Colossians 2:6 we are told by Paul: “Since you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.” We are instructed to walk in him, and it would make sense that we can extend it to how we pray. We are to pray in him. Rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as we are taught and with abundant thanksgiving. What a great checklist for our prayer life. Pray in thanksgiving, pray in what we learn of Him through the word, pray rooted in our faith. Pray in Him walk in Him and in doing so our lives become a prayer keeping His name holy. We know God’s name is kept holy when the Word of God is taught in its truth and purity, and we, as the children of God, also lead holy lives according to it. Our dear father in heaven certainly helps us to do this!

Colossians 2:8 See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ.
On the contrary though anyone who teaches or lives contrary to God’s Word profanes the name of God among us. Our heavenly Father also protects us from this. Paul warns us against this and encourages us to be protected from these things when he goes on to warn against walking in the ways of the world, there are dangers for us to pray according to the world. We are continually facing the traps of “philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ.” These things would have us pray to a God and in a way that make rational sense. Our evil minds can grasp many things as God has gifted us to do, but we cannot rationalize and understand God. What our minds can fully fall for though is the temptations of this world the desires for health and comfort and things of this world consume us and overwhelm us and overtake our prayer life. Yes God does give us health and comfort and he does give us things of this world, but these things are not what we need.

We could have perfect health and abundant, comfortable living and all the gizmos and gadgets and things our finest minds and fullest wallets could dream up and purchase but they will not last. And they will not give us that which we need the most. These things will never give us the forgiveness of sins life and salvation that our evil ways require. All we need is Jesus. And Jesus is what you have. As a redeemed child of God, even when we pray for things we don’t need, your sins are forgiven and your prayers are answered. Always.. It is in Him and through Him we pray. Always.

And in Him, through Him and because of Him, praying is as easy as asking, seeking, and knocking. Because you are washed in baptism, buried with Him in baptism, you are now cleansed, with the water and the blood — and you are able to stand and with new life, with Him, with His words to ask as a dear child asks a father, knowing he gives perfectly.

Saint Augustine wrote: “God is more willing to give than we are to receive.” How true it is, we will never know this side of glory. Go to him in prayer and continue to receive his abundant blessings.

In His name. Amen