First Sunday in Lent
ďThe Vicarious Obedience of ChristĒ
February 25, 2007
Let us compare Adam to Christ. Adam was tempted because he chose to go to where the devil
was. Jesus was tempted
because the Holy Spirit led Him to where the devil was.
Adam was tempted within the luscious and fruitful Garden of Eden.
Jesus was tempted in the stark and arid wilderness.
Adam gave in to the temptation.
Jesus resisted the temptation.
The devil lured Adam away from the word of God.
Jesus opposed the devil with the word of God.
After Adam disobeyed, God sent angels to bar him from His holy
presence. After Jesus
obeyed, God sent angels to serve Him.
When Adam disobeyed he brought sin, death, and everlasting
punishment upon the human race. When Christ obeyed He brought righteousness, life, and
eternal blessing upon the human race.
Adamís disobedience is imputed
to the world. Christís
obedience is imputed to the world.
On account of Adamís sin, the entire human race is guilty and
stands condemned before God. On
account of Christís obedience, the entire human race is acquitted and
stands righteous before God. Adamís
sin changed the nature of all those born according to the flesh.
Whereas in the original creation Adam and Eve did what was by
nature good and right and pure and holy, now in their fallen condition
the children of Adam and Eve by nature do what is evil and wrong and
corrupt and sinful. Christís obedience changed the nature of all those born
again by the Holy Spirit. The
same Spirit that led Jesus into the wilderness to be tempted by the
devil leads us to Christ, clothes us with Christ, reckons to us the
righteousness of Christ, forgives us all our sins for Christís sake,
and empowers us to live holy lives in imitation of Him who resisted the
devilís temptation with the almighty word of God.
The Holy Spirit takes away Adamís failure and replaces it with
Christís success. This is
the life to which He calls us during this holy season and throughout the
Jesus faced three temptations. All three dealt with values.
What did He value? What
was more valuable than what? What
is more valuable: food for the body or food for the soul? What is more valuable: divine proof or divine promises?
What is more valuable: the glory of the world or the glory of
heaven? We all face these
temptations. Let us see how
our Lord faced them and drove the tempter away from Him.
What is more valuable: food for
the body or food for the soul? Letís
do a poll. Take a vote. Let the people decide. What
do you think the answer will be? Why,
thereís no contest. Consider
excuses for missing work and for missing church.
What would the boss accept as legitimate reasons for not going to
work on a given day? Then
consider reasons for skipping church on a given day.
Whatís more important? Making
money? Or hearing Godís word?
What do we need more? A
healthy bank balance or a solid grounding in Godís saving doctrine?
What do we crave more? The
satisfaction of our physical desires or the words of life that
strengthen our soul?
ďIf you are the Son of God,
command that these stones become bread.Ē
But Jesus is more than the Son of God.
He is also the Son of Man. He
has become our brother. As
our brother He offers His most holy obedience to God.
He fulfills all of Godís demands for us, as our substitute.
He values the word of God more than any bodily need He has.
And He has bodily needs.
He was hungry. He
was thirsty. He suffered
pain. Just like every other
human being. But there is
something every human being needs.
We need it to live. We
need Godís word. We need
to be listening to it and taking it in.
We need to be learning it and inwardly digesting it.
If we neglect it in favor of what our body wants, how are we any
different from the animals that cannot know God or worship God or love
God? When what God says is
despised, how can anyone argue that God Himself is not being despised?
But Jesus says that we live on every word that proceeds out of
the mouth of God.
What is more valuable: divine
proof or divine promises? The
creature presumes to put his Creator on trial.
If you are God you fix the mess I am in.
But you made the mess you are in.
God told you not to do it and you went ahead and did it and now
youíre criticizing God for not fixing it.
Perhaps God wants you to learn from your mistakes.
You have no right to tempt God.
You have no right to put Him on trial.
Does God really care for you? Do this, to find out. Ah,
but that puts you in charge. Youíre
not in charge. When you
demand proof from God youíre demanding to be Godís boss.
You set the conditions. You
make the rules. You decide
what He must do to show His faithfulness to you.
Then youíll trust Him if He honors the deal.
But thatís not faith.
Faith knows that God cares for us.
Faith knows that God loves us.
Faith knows that God will turn every evil thing to work for our
good. How does faith know
this? Because God promises
this. Faith trusts the
divine promise. Faith
doesnít demand divine proof.
ďIf you are the Son of God,
throw yourself down.Ē Now
note how the devil loves to quote the Bible.
He goes on to say, ďFor it is written: ĎHe shall give His
angels charge over you,í and, ĎIn their hands they shall bear you
up, lest you dash your foot against a stone.íí
Thatís perfectly true. But
you are not to put God to the test.
When we pray that God will not lead us into temptation but
deliver us from evil we cannot sincerely pray this prayer while running
into temptation and embracing evil.
God is not there to do tricks for us.
He will not permit Himself to be taken into judgment by you.
When God talked to Job out of the whirlwind in response to
Jobís incessant complaining, what did God say?
Put into plain English God said, ďIím God and youíre not.
God doesnít have to explain
Himself to us. Heís not
on trial. But when He promises us something, we can surely bind Him to
it. In fact, He loves it
when we do. When we latch
on to His promise and refuse to let go He is pleased with us.
His promise is always joined to Christ.
It is always for the sake of Christís obedience that God looks
favorably upon us. Just as
Jesus valued the divine promise over any divine proof, so we have in
Christ the proof of His promise on which we can rely no matter what our
immediate circumstances might say to the contrary.
What is more valuable: the glory
of the world or the glory of heaven?
Here we see the father of lies at the height of his powers, or
perhaps we should say at the depth of his diabolical deceit.
Notice Satanís tactics. First,
he offers what is not his to give.
The kingdoms of the world and their glory did not belong to the
devil. He cannot give what
he does not have. Second,
he exacts a condition that would require Jesus to deny both Himself and
His Father. He says, ďAll
these things I will give You if You will fall down and worship me.Ē
Jesus replied, ďAway with you, Satan! For it is written, ĎYou
shall worship the LORD your God, and Him only you shall serve.íĒ
The temptation is as powerful as
it is outrageous. How can
the author of evil, of lies, and of deception presume to offer us glory?
But he does. Thatís
exactly what he does. He
would persuade us that he is the one who owns this world.
We know better. We
know better because God has told us so.
This is our Fatherís world.
The devil is called the prince of this world, not because he owns
it Ė he most certainly does not Ė but because he controls to loyalty
of so many in it. So this is the temptation to sin. Wouldnít you like the approval of those who appear to be in
charge? They talk about
peer pressure usually with reference to teenagers and Iíll admit that
at that time of life it is particularly difficult to stand alone against
the crowd. But we all want
the glory of the world. Itís
no fun being ostracized, having what you treasure trashed, having what
you value despised. But for us to gain the transient glories of this world
requires that we set aside the eternal glories of heaven. For the LORD our God is not the only jealous God, permitting
the worship of none other god. The
idols of this world are jealous as well.
If we want the glory the devil promised to Jesus we will have to
sacrifice our Christian faith to get it.
It wonít appear that way at the time, but it is most certainly
The worship of God is a
confession. It is a
confession that all of the promises of this world are, at bottom,
without any true value. As the hymnist reminds us: ďThey prove to be burdens that
vex us and chafe us and true lasting happiness never vouchsafe us.Ē
Our Lord Jesus made the good confession in the face of the liar
and murder of souls. He
thereby set an example for us all to follow.
He relied on the power of Godís holy word.
Trusting in Godís word, He valued food for the soul higher than
He valued food for the body. He
valued the divine promises and didnít demand that His Father prove
Himself. He valued the
glory of heaven more than any promise of glory here on earth.
He did what Adam failed to do.
He did so as the true man, the righteous man, the sinless man.
Rev. Rolf D. Preus