by The Rev. Mark Buetow
Dear children of God: Never let go of God's Word! It will keep you safe! Never stop hearing God's Word. It will protect you from the Evil One. Adam and Eve show us our repentance for this First Sunday in Lent. They let go of God's Word. They ignored it. Adam didn't preach it when he should have. Eve didn't hold on to it when tempted. Together they let God's Word go and then they were sitting ducks for the Serpent. You, dear Christian: cling to God's Word. Hold on to it as the greatest treasure. Please, hear my plea, today, brothers and sisters in Christ. NOW is the time of God's favor, NOW is the day of salvation. Don't put it off. Don't wait. Don't think that learning God's Word is something you can find time for later. Parents, please! Don't let your kids avoid God's Word in Sunday School and Catechesis. Don't teach them that there are things that are more important and can scoot God's Word to the side. Adults, we have Bible Study twice a week in addition to Catechesis on Wednesdays. Please don't think you've learned enough or have nothing else to hear from God's Word. Children and youth, listen! As you grow older, as your time gets filled up with all sorts of other things, don't think that you don't need God's Word. Keep coming to hear it preached. Come and study it and learn it. All of you Christians, don't be like Adam and Eve who listened to the Devil, and gave up God's Word. Rather, come and hear it. Read it every day. Learn it. Study it. Cling to it. Make your pastor answer your questions about it and teach it to you. Make it your highest treasure and joy! Of course I can't make you hold on to God's Word. And in fact I know that neither you nor I will do it. We will fail, as Adam and Eve did. So listen carefully today, again, to God's Word. To the Promises of Christ which save us by His Word.
The story of Man's fall shows us clearly three things which befell Man when they let go of God's Word. But the Lord was right there to give His promise of salvation in the One born of a woman. So Jesus comes and undoes what we have done and saves us. First of all, Adam and Eve didn't listen to God's Word. They knew it but they didn't follow it. There's our first repentance. We have God's Word. We've learned our Catechism. We know the Commandments, the Creed and the Lord's Prayer. But when the devil, the world and our sinful flesh get going tempting us, we forget all about that. What the world says we should do and get and how we should, that's what sounds better. We struggle through life as if the Word of God doesn't teach us how to live and act and behave and get along with our neighbor. Even worse, we let the world tell us about God instead of learning about Him from God's Word. When we reject the Word like that, we deserve nothing but eternal death. So Jesus comes. And He takes on flesh. And He gets baptized and then He goes into the wilderness. The devil twisted God's Word and caused Adam and Eve to fall into sin. The devil comes to Jesus and also twists God's Word. But this time, the devil doesn't win. This time, the Man wins. Jesus holds fast to God's Word. He clings to what His Father has said. And it drives the devil away. When you despise God's Word, recognize it! Confess it! And hear the Good News: Christ has kept it. His keeping and holding on to God's Word counts FOR YOU.
When Adam and Eve gave up God's Word, then they were suddenly ashamed of their nakedness. They were exposed. You and I know the feeling. We do things we don't want anyone else to see but we're always looking over our shoulders. We do things we should not have done and we are quick to hide it. Cover it up. Quick switch to a different computer screen. Or bury that bad report card at the bottom of your backpack. Or blame the problem on someone else's work. We hide and run from our sins. But God sees. The Lord knows what you have done. He sees what you have done and His eyes penetrate into your sinful heart and mind where you think no one can get to. The Lord beholds your nakedness behind your silly fig leaves. He sees and in His mercy He covers you. The Lord killed some sheep or goats and made shirts for Adam and Eve. He covered their nakedness. And He covers your sins. Your nakedness. By the death of another Lamb. The Lamb of God. The Lamb who is His Son. When Jesus sheds His blood, it is so that you will be covered. When you are Baptized, the Holy Spirit puts Christ on you, clothes you with Jesus, covers your sin-nakedness with the Son of God. So that neither you nor God have to look at yourself exposed by sin but covered by the forgiveness of Jesus.
When Adam and Eve sinned, God brought punishment and a curse to them and the world. Suffering, heartache, pain in childbearing, the toil and drudgery of daily work to eek out a living, thorns and thistles and sickness and death: These are the things our sin has earned. And they are no different for us. When we get sick, when we fail, when we die, when nothing is as we wish it were, then pay close attention: you are witnessing the punishment of God upon sin upon earth. The Lord has cursed this earth so that we will never trust in it. It won't save us. The Lord is punishing His creation for what Adam and Eve have done. And we bear that punishment and suffer it because of our own sins. Dust you are and to dust you will return. And what is dust? It's what the Serpent gets to eat! So Jesus comes to take that punishment upon Himself and free us from God's wrath. Jesus comes to wear a crown of thorns to show that He is carrying the curse not for Himself but for all of us. Jesus comes to offer Himself as a target for the Devil. And why? So that the worst and final punishment of God—eternal death—is not given to us. Jesus suffers the punishment for our sins so that we are set free. When you eat Jesus' body and drink His blood, remember that He has taken your punishment. Adam and Eve ate the fruit which brought them death. Jesus feeds you with Himself, the fruit of the tree of the cross, flesh and blood given for you that give you life and rescue you from the punishment and torments of eternal hell.
Do you see the ways in which Adam and Eve's sin was undone by Jesus? Pay close attention to those ways in which the faults and transgressions of Adam and Eve were cured and fixed by Jesus. See how what was ruined by Man is made right by the Son of God. And know this: the way in which the Lord saved Adam and Eve is the same way that He saves you. Before Adam and Even fell into sin, the Lord gave them His Word. They abandoned that Word and plunged the world into death. But the Lord gave them His Word again. More Word. This time a Word of promise and salvation: The Seed would come and crush the Serpent's head. The Lord saves Adam and Eve by His Word. That is how He saves us. By giving us His Word. Word and Water. Word and Supper. Word in the Bible. Word preached and taught. Word. Word. Word. No matter how much you despise it, ignore it, don't want it, that's what the Lord has for you, dear Christian. His Word. Words that call us to repentance for despising His Word. Words that give us life by absolving us of our sins. Everything, dear Christian, and I mean everything in your life, is by and about and through the Word of God. Give that Word up, ignore it, despise it, cast it away, find other stuff that's more important—well, go ahead and you'll see what happens. A life lived apart from God's Word is a life of misery and hopelessness. So pay attention to God's Word. Hold on to it. Treasure it. Believe it. It's your true and only defense against the devil who wants you to be nothing more than dust for him to munch on. But Jesus has come, the Word in the flesh, and He has crushed the Serpent's head. God's Word says so!
On this first Sunday in Lent, brothers and sisters in Christ, parents and kids, and all Christians, learn your repentance from Adam and Eve. Learn what happens when you pay little or not attention to God's Word. Learn what happens when you let God's Word go and listen to the whisperings of the devil. And repent of that awful sin! And learn what God does about such things. Learn how God continues to give us His Word. Learn How He clothes us. How He takes the punishment we have coming. How in every way and from every angle, our Lord Jesus rescues and saves us from our sins and makes things right with God. Lent has begun. All eyes and ears on Jesus who is the Word. The Word God the Father has given to save us! The Word who crushes the Serpent's head. The Word who crowns your head with glory! Amen.
Created: February 12th, 2008