Sermon for Lenten Midweek 5 – 3.20.24

+ 5th Lenten Midweek – March 20th, 2024 +

Genesis 3:1-8; Matthew 4:1-11

6th and 7th Petitions of the Lord’s Prayer

Beautiful Savior Lutheran Church

Milton, WA

 

“Lead Us Not Into Temptation…But Deliver Us From Evil”

 

Grace, mercy, and peace to you from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.

 

There’s a game that I imagine most of us have played, or at least heard of playing, at family events or youth group gatherings. Pictionary. It’s a simple game. There are usually two teams. A dry erase board (or chalk board if you’re old school). A box or hat with things written on the paper. You pick your piece of paper. You walk to the board and you begin to draw. Now, for the details of the story, let’s say this is Bible Pictionary. And the words you have to draw say this: the Christian life.

 

What do you draw? What shape might you begin to sketch? How do you illustrate the Christian life?

 

Some would draw a line, like a Ford Motors assembly line because they (wrongly) think that the Christian life is one of constant improvement and increase. Some would draw a trophy because they (wrongly) think that the Christian life is all about success and triumph and winning. Some might even draw a ladder because they (wrongly) think that the Christian life is about our climbing, striving, ascending to God.

 

But then you think (rightly) of the picture the Scriptures give you of the Christian life. You might even think of passages like Romans 7.

 

“For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate…For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. 19 For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing…So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. 22 For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, 23 but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. 24 Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? 25 Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! 

 

And then you pick up the dry erase marker and all you draw on the board is a simple circle. In the Scriptures, the picture of the Christian life is not a Norman Rockwell painting. It’s not a Thomas Kinkade landscape. It’s much more like the picture of Dorian Gray. Or, perhaps something easier to picture…a World War 1 battle scene with trenches and mud and blood and smoke and death and warfare all around.

 

The Christian life is shaped like a circle because, beginning on the day of your baptism until the day Christ returns or you die and he calls you home, you are, all who in Christ are, dying and rising. Like Paul in Romans 7, there is a daily civil war raging within each of us: the old Adam and the new man in Christ. And that battle rages until Christ returns or, you die and he calls you home. Like Paul in Romans 7, we are constantly surrounded by enemies: not just the devil and the fallen world – though they certainly are our enemies: For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness.

 

That’s true of course, but Paul also points the finger at the enemy within himself. Within you. Within me. This is a trustworthy saying: Christ Jesus came to save sinners, of whom I am the chief.

 

Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? 25 Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! 

 

If the Christian life is more like a circle of daily dying and rising, of daily confessing sin and receiving forgiveness, what we need is not an assembly line or a trophy or a ladder. What we need is rescue. Deliverance. If our Christian life is a battlefield, what we need is a Warrior King to step into the breach, pull us out of the mud and the blood and death and fight for us.

 

That, dear brothers and sisters in Christ, is what we have in the Lord’s Prayer (the 6th and 7th petitions) and that is who we have in the Lord Jesus. He gives you these words to pray. He promises to hear you. He leads you not into temptation, but arms you to bushwhack through it. And is there when you fall to pick you back up again in his forgiveness and carry you on and on and on. He is the one who delivers you from evil, from evil in the world, from evil within, and from the evil one.

 

In the 6th petition, Jesus teaches us to pray to him with the temptations we face now – and temptations may look and feel different for each of us, but we all have them. Like Paul there’s always a thorn in our flesh of one kind or another. So we pray: take my temptations away. Keep me from pursuing them. Whatever you do, Lord Jesus, don’t let me have my way. My desires. My will be done my kingdom come. But yours. Tie us tightly to your promises like Odysseus to the mast of his ship, and fill our ears with the wax of your word, that we might escape the sirens’ song. And when we fail – not if, but when, forgive us our trespasses.

 

Lord Jesus, guard and keep us so that the devil, the world, and our sinful nature may not deceive us or mislead us into false belief, despair, and other great shame and vice. Although we are attacked by these things, we pray that we may finally overcome them and win the victory.

 

And you know what, he does. In the wilderness, Jesus defeated the devil for you. In towns across Judea Jesus cast out demons for you. On the cross Jesus crushed your enemy, the dragon, underfoot. In your baptism, not just the day – but each day – Christ Jesus defeated the devil; in that sacred pool he and continues to drown the enemy within as well. In Jesus all temptation you face – the ones you’ve escaped and the ones you’ve fallen into – they’re all overcome by Jesus.

 

He delivered you from evil on the cross. He ran, head first, feet first, and hands first into the fray, into the mud and the blood and death to save you. He delivers you still. You are armed for the fight with his word and prayer. You are clothed in the armor God in baptismal battle garments, that can douse the fiery arrows of the serpent. You are fed and strengthened and forgiven in the body and the blood of Jesus.

 

And though your adversary prowls about like a roaring lion, he is no match for Jesus the Lion of Judah who has delivered you. Who delivers you now already in his word and water and body and blood. And he will deliver you once again when he returns or when you die and he calls you home. In Jesus there is no evil – from the devil, the world, or within our own sinful flesh – that can harm you.

 

14 For… we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

 

Lead us not into temptation. Rescue us from temptation. And deliver us from evil. We pray in this petition, in summary, that our Father in heaven would rescue us from every evil of body and soul, possessions and reputation, and finally, when our last hour comes, give us a blessed end, and graciously take us from this valley of sorrow to Himself in heaven.

 

And he will. One day the circle will be broken. Jesus will replace it with something better than a picture. You’ll look and all you’ll see is the Lamb on the throne for you.

 

 

The peace of God which surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in + Christ Jesus to life everlasting. Amen.

 

Beautiful Savior

is a traditional Lutheran Church, faithful to God's Word and His Sacraments. We equip God's people to serve, love, and encourage one another as we grow in our personal relationship with Christ. We reach out to the community as beacons of light, sharing the love of God in Christ Jesus, our Savior.

Church Office Hours

Monday - Thursday 8:30am-3:30pm

Friday 8:30am-11:30am

The office is closed on Fridays during the summer months of June, July, and August.

Preschool Office Hours

August - May
Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday
8:30am-12:30pm

By appointment only June and July

Contact

Address
2306 Milton Way
Milton, WA 98354
Phone
(253) 922-6977
Fax
(253) 922-6977