"Again, the devil took Him to an exceedingly high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory and he said to Him, ‘All these I will give you, if falling down you worship me.’ Then Jesus said to him, ‘Go, Satan! For it is written, "You shall worship the Lord God and Him only shall you serve."’" (St. Matthew 4:1-11)
In the name of Jesus. Amen. When I was younger, I thought that the coolest thing about Jesus was that He could do anything. He could turn water into wine, walk on water, heal the sick, and even raise the dead. I thought He could even beat Superman!
But a super Jesus doesn't bother the devil in this week’s Gospel lesson. The devil isn’t worried by a Jesus who can turn stones into bread or leap off the highest point of the temple.
If a powerful Jesus doesn’t scare the devil, what does? A crucified Jesus. That’s what the devil is trying to sidetrack in the temptation. A Jesus who will listen to him, who uses His power for Himself or bows down to him is a Jesus who won’t die for you and me on the Cross. If the devil could just keep Jesus from the Cross, we’d all be lost.
Thank God the devil didn’t get what he wanted! Every day you say what happened in the Apostle’s Creed: "I believe in Jesus Christ, who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead, and buried." Now raised from the dead, Jesus reigns at the right hand of God. He is King of Kings and Lord of Lords, the Lamb slain before the creation of the world.
But that’s Easter good news. Today we have Lenten good news. Today, we learn that Jesus was faithful unto death. He did not doubt His Father’s Words. He went on being faithful all the way to the Cross, where He was crucified for the sin of the world.
A super Jesus doesn’t save you from your sins, but a crucified Lord wins salvation for you and me. And He doesn’t stop at winning our salvation for us, He delivers it to us in His Word and Sacraments. In Baptism, our sins are washed away and we are buried with Jesus. In Absolution, the forgiveness won by the crucified Jesus is put into our ears. In the Lord ’s Supper, we receive Jesus’ cross-won forgiveness and eternal life into our mouths.
I’ll take the crucified Jesus over a super Jesus any day. But, we don’t have to choose! He is the crucified Lord! In the name of Jesus. Amen.
"With might of ours can naught be done, Soon were our loss effected; But for us fights the valiant One, Whom God Himself elected. Ask ye, Who is this? Jesus Christ it is, of Sabaoth Lord, and there ’s none other God; He holds the field forever." (LW 298, v.2)
Higher Things Reflections are written by Rev. George F. Borghardt III, Assistant Pastor at St. Mark Lutheran Church, Conroe, TX