God's Own Child

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“Satan, hear this proclamation: I am baptized into Christ! Drop your ugly accusation, I am not so soon enticed. Now that to the font I’ve traveled, All your might has come unraveled, And, against your tyranny, God, my Lord unites with me” (LSB #594, v. 3).
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ!
The Jordan River water slowly trickles off Jesus’ wet head. The hot sand glues itself to His damp feet. Behind Him the famous river snakes along; before Him the ancient serpent lays in wait. Still drenched with baptismal water, Jesus is led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. Heaven and hell are about to exchange blows. And in the celestial realm, you can hear a pin drop.
You may be tempted to view the fight as a spectator, to cheer for your Big Brother who is about to blacken the eye of the bully from below. But you are not just a fan in the stands. No, you are in Christ. In Jesus, all humanity goes toe-to-toe with the heavyweight champion of hell. When this one Man enters the ring with the tempter, all of us step in with Him. Just as in Adam all humanity fell through temptation into sin and death, so in Christ all humanity will rise through obedience into righteousness and life. No, you are not in the audience; you are in the wilderness, for you (like our little brother Holden) are baptized into Christ.
The devil hears the Father’s voice from heaven announcing His pleasure at the baptism of His Son. The old evil foe watches Jesus fast for forty days and forty nights. He sees the One who will call Himself the Bread of Life hunger. So, he devises a plan of attack. The tempter comes to Jesus and says to Him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread” (Matthew 4:3).
Do you hear the accusation? The devil is saying, “If it is true what that voice from the clouds said, then why has God abandoned you to die of starvation? Why is He depriving you of the necessities of life? He fed His wayward children, Israel, bread from heaven as they wandered in the wilderness for forty years. Can’t He spare one loaf of bread for the Son in whom He delights?” Satan, hungry for victory swings his fist at the empty belly of our Lord.
But no sooner does the punch begin than it is blocked—not by human strength, not by human willpower, not by human arguments, but by the Word of God. Jesus answers and says, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every Word that comes from the mouth of God,” (Matthew 4:4).
And the Word that has come from the mouth of God is, “This is My beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased” (Matthew 3:17).
Bear this in mind: The temptation is not simply to turn rocks into food. Satan lures Jesus to turn from the trustworthy Word of His Father to the fickle feelings of His human heart. But instead of turning stones into bread, Christ stuffs the stone of His Father’s Word into the devil’s open, tempting mouth.
That same satanic mouth has dropped such doubting thoughts into your suffering heart, too, hasn’t it? At your Baptism, the Father said, “This is My son, this is My daughter, with whom I am well pleased.” But does it always seem so? When the bills pile up, do you wonder what use is the Father’s rich grace if you don’t have enough money to meet your obligations? If you are loved by Him, why does He allow you to be injured or ill or to undergo difficulties in your family relationships? So goes the temptation to despair and/or the justification for taking matters into your own hand by whatever means necessary.
But as it was with Jesus, so it is with you. Satan is luring you to turn from the trustworthy Word of your Father to the fickle feelings of your human heart. Do not trust yourself or your circumstances. Trust your Father who knows what is best for you! If He sent His own beloved Son to the cross, do not think that He will spare you your own crosses.
But rest assured that behind these masks of suffering is the smiling face of your beloved Father. In love, He is bringing you, cross by cross, suffering by suffering, temptation by temptation, to the glory of the resurrection. He is building you to be what He has already declared you to be in your Baptism—His beloved child. One who pleases Him well. God’s own child, baptized into Christ.
Failing His initial assault, Satan circles his opponent, planning his next attack. He takes Jesus to Jerusalem, sets Him on the pinnacle of the temple and says to Him, “If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down, for it is written, ‘He will command His angels concerning You,’ and ‘On their hands they will bear You up, lest You strike Your foot against a stone’ (Matthew 4:5-6).
Is the devil simply trying to get our Lord to break His neck? No, he is far more sinister than that. He is saying, “You claim that you are the beloved Son of God, with whom He is well pleased. Prove it. Throw Yourself down from the temple. He says He’ll protect You with His angels. Take Him at His Word. Jump!”
This temptation is to abandon faith and to live by sight. It completely does away with the cross in the Christian life and substitutes for it a theology of glory, an arrogant, faithless presumption that because I am saved, God will always shower me with blessings and miracles, that because I am God’s own child, He will not allow any obstacles or sorrow or pain to come into my life. Fully aware of this ancient maneuver, Jesus returns the tempter’s jab: “Again it is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test’” (Matthew 4:7). The bell sounds.
Having been defeated in the first two rounds, Satan steps forward one more time. In the first temptation, the devil held adversity in the face of Jesus. Here, Satan holds prosperity before Him. He says, in essence: “Because You are God’s Son, You deserve better than this miserable life. You deserve riches, honor, and glory. I can give all of that to You and it won’t cause You one moment of inconvenience or suffering. All You have to do is bow down and worship me.”
But our Lord does not come to pursue wealth, fame, and glory! He comes not be served, but to serve and to give His life as a ransom for many. He comes to “fear, love, and trust in God above all things.” He comes to “love His neighbor as Himself,” and in so doing, to fulfill the Law for you. Jesus says, “Be gone, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God and Him only shall you serve” (Matthew 4:10). The devil throws in the towel, leaving until a more opportune time. But, Jesus’ victory proves He will be ready for him!
Do you see what our Lord does in His conquest of Satan with all his temptations? He utterly reverses the fall of the first man and brings forward a new humanity, with Himself being the new Adam, who bears in His own body the source of all true and lasting life. What you cannot do, Christ does for you. The tempter you could never defeat on your own—Christ defeats for you. The new beginning that you could never create—Jesus creates for you.
In the plush Garden of Eden, the first Adam was defeated by the ancient serpent. But in the Judean wilderness, Jesus fights off the same temptations of the evil one. Every fiery arrow shot from Satan’s bow is doused in the water of the Word. Heaven and hell stand toe-to-toe, and hell is left lying in the dust.
The Lord Jesus fights this battle for you. His victory over the devil is your victory as well, for all that Christ accomplishes is reckoned to you as your very own in your Baptism. When you fall prey to the temptations of Satan, flee to the One who has defeated Satan. Those who are in Christ cannot be harmed by the enticements of evil. As in Adam you died in sin, so in the obedient Christ you live.
Repent and turn to Him. Leave the old Adam with his death, and come to the new Adam with all His life. He will receive and embrace you as His own. His baptism is your Baptism. His conquering of sin is your conquering of sin. His crucifixion, His resurrection, His ascension, are yours. As such, you have been given the power to overcome temptation as well.
Stephen King’s film, Needful Things, tells the story of a satanic figure who moves into a quaint New England town and subtly, one by one, turns townspeople against each other as they yield to violence, chaos, and distrust. He asks something of almost everyone, tapping his or her weaknesses, desires, and jealousies.
In a fiery scene at the end of the film, a Christ figure confronts the evil one as the source of the town’s metamorphosis. One by one, he calls out the names of the townspeople, revealing how the stranger has deceived and manipulated them all. “You’re finished here!” the truth-teller shouts to the devilish figure, sending him on his way. Exposed for what he is, the satanic figure no longer has power over the people.
As a Christian, you can do the same every day. Christ has exposed Satan’s temptations for what they are—smoke and mirrors, bald-faced lies and hollow promises that result in separation from God and eternal death. They need no longer capture your attention or deceive you. Repent and trust in Christ’s salvation. You are God’s own child. You are baptized into Christ. He has paid your full redemption price. Satan’s ugly accusation does not apply to you. All his might has come unraveled. You are forgiven for all your sins.
In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are from the Holy Bible, English Standard Version, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.


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