Sermon for Lent 1 – Feb. 21, 2021

+ Lent 1 – February 21, 2021 +

Series B: Genesis 22:1-18; James 1:12-18; Mark 1:9-15

Beautiful Savior Lutheran

Milton, WA

 

“Jesus in the Wilderness”

 

In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

 

The Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness.

 

Not exactly what we would expect to have happened to Jesus immediately following his baptism in the Jordan River. No ticker tape parade or feast for the beloved Son of God. After the marvelous and mysterious divine revelation at the Jordan, still dripping with droplets of Jordan River water, the same Spirit who rested upon Jesus in the river now drives, literally throws Jesus out into the wilderness.

 

In our day, the wilderness is seen as idyllic, a destination on tourist brochures, an escape from the hustle and bustle, rest and relaxation and so forth. Not so in biblical days. In the Scriptures, the wilderness is a place of desolation. A place of preparation. A place of testing and temptation. The dwelling of sin and Satan. A place where your only hope is the grace of YHWH.

 

In the wilderness, YHWH appeared to Moses in the burning bush, preparing him to lead God’s people from slavery to freedom.

 

In the wilderness, YHWH led and prepared and tested his people Israel for forty years, preparing them to enter his promised land.

 

In the wilderness, the prophet Elijah journeyed forty days to Mt. Horeb, sustained by heavenly bread and water.

 

In the wilderness, Isaiah foretold and John fulfilled, God’s voice announcing the Messiah, the Servant of YHWH who was YHWH in human flesh, the kingdom of God had come at last. The very same Messiah who, after his baptism in the Jordan River, goes into the wilderness as Israel in one man, and as one man for all Israel and for all people, and for you.

 

And whenever someone is in the wilderness in Scripture, you know that God is up to something.

 

And what exactly is God up to in the wilderness this time? In his rapid-fire style, St. Mark tells us. St. Mark is a master of brevity and depth all at once. He packs Jesus’ whole ministry into a few short verses. Jesus is baptized. Jesus begins his journey to Jerusalem. Jesus battles Satan.

 

Jesus’ baptism reveals who Jesus is – the beloved Son of God, the kingdom of God incarnate – and his mission he has come to accomplish. Already in the Jordan Jesus is anointed for death. A baptism of water foreshadowing his greater baptism by fire and blood on the cross. And his rising from the baptismal waters a preview of his greater resurrection from the tomb on Easter Sunday. It’s a preview of the new creation Jesus brings in his life, death, and resurrection. That seems to be the best explanation that I have found for why Mark tells us that Jesus is with the wild animals in the wilderness in verse 13. Only Mark mentions that. Jesus has come as Isaiah and the prophets long foretold. And with the coming of Jesus the Messiah, comes a new creation. In his death and resurrection all creation is redeemed, restored, renewed. His dwelling with the wild beasts in the wilderness is a preview of that great day. And we must not forget, the wilderness is not Jesus’ final destination, but the beginning of the journey.

 

In the Jordan, Jesus’ itinerary is set. His journey to Jerusalem begins. That is why the Spirit throws him out into the wilderness. To get to the promised land Israel had to go through the wilderness. Jesus is no different. To get to Jerusalem, to guarantee our entrance into the promised land, Jesus goes through the wilderness on our behalf. Wherever Israel goes, Jesus goes. Israel journeys in the wilderness. So does Jesus. Israel is tested in the wilderness. So is Jesus. Tested. Tempted. For forty days.

 

Only this time something new happens in the wilderness. Israel in the flesh overcomes. Jesus passes the test. Where Israel failed and fell into temptation, Jesus overcomes. Jesus battles Satan and wins. Jesus triumphs. For Israel. For all. For you. It’s a preview of what Jesus will do at his journey’s end on the cross in Jerusalem. Where he will destroy death by dying. Defeat Satan by suffering. Conquer sin by becoming sin for us.

 

This is good news for us, for we find ourselves living in the wilderness as well. The wilderness and wasteland of this fallen world. And in this wilderness, we too are tempted.

 

Tempted to forsake Christ for something else – some other source of peace, comfort, or happiness. Tempted to satisfy our own hunger and appetites. Tempted to test the Word of God. Remember how Eve was tempted. First there was doubt. “Did God really say?” Then she was tempted by her appetites. She saw that the forbidden food was beautiful and delicious and oh so satisfying. Then she was tempted by her reason. It could make you wise, and who wouldn’t want that. And then she bit into the notion of good and evil and being like God sounded like a good thing to her and to Adam and to us.

 

If it’s up to us to journey through the wilderness, we’re doomed. We’re no match of the devil. In fact, our old Adam, our natural inclination, is to be on the devil’s side. That’s why God must “make enmity,” God must act, God must intervene. That’s why the Spirit drove Jesus into the wilderness after His Baptism. Not for Jesus’ faith but for ours. Not for Jesus’ sake but for ours. This was the prelude to the cross where the battle was waged and won for you. This was the opening round of a war that would end in Jesus’ hunger and thirst on the cross in the wilderness of Sin and Death where with one last word “it is finished,” He put an end once and for all to the works of the devil.

 

Yes, in this life we walk the wilderness way, the way of testing and trial, the way when the devil seems so real and God seems so hidden you would think He was absent. We must walk this way to the promised land of eternal life. It’s called the way of faith. But you do not walk it alone. Your Savior, our Lord Jesus, has gone the way ahead of us and leads us through it.

 

This Lenten season there is life in this wilderness. Life in your Baptism. Life in Jesus crucified and risen for you.

 

 

In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. 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, Wednesday, and Friday
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
E-mail
staff@mybslc.com