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Our New Adam Conquers

February 26th 2012 by Joel Schultz

Each year on the first Sunday in Lent we hear the story of Jesus' being tempted in the wilderness. We can often relate. We have many wilderness moments as Satan, this sinful world and our own sinful flesh tempt us. Jesus' victory becomes our victory through the cross. Read or listen to hear more...

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Lent 1B - "Our New Adam Conquers" - Mark 1:12-15 -February 26, 2012

The Gospel reading for this first Sunday in Lent is always this story of Jesus’ temptation rotating between Matthew, Mark and Luke. It is a great text for this Sunday because it sets the stage of Lent for us – it gets right to the conflict between Jesus and Satan which culminates with the victory of Good Friday.

Mark’s description of Jesus’ temptation is much briefer that Matthew and Luke, but it sets the context well. Picture the scene… Jesus comes to the Jordan and is baptized by John to fulfill righteousness – to be identified with sinful mankind. But, although, He identifies with sinners, as Jesus comes out of the water, the Father’s voice provides the epiphany revelation: “You are my beloved son” (v11).

Then, with water perhaps still dripping off His head, the “Spirit immediately drove Him out into the wilderness” (v12). Again, He goes into the wilderness to identify with us – to be tempted by the ancient serpent, Satan. Mark tells us that He was being tempted by Satan for 40 days.

Matthew and Luke record for us what seem to be the last three temptations Jesus faced. “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread” (Mt 4:3)…. “throw yourself down [from the highest point of the temple]” (Mt 4:5)…. “All these [kingdoms] I will give you if you fall down and worship me” (Mt 4:9).

Jesus is in the wilderness, with the wild animals, being tempted by the serpent, Satan, to doubt the Father’s love – to turn away from the Father’s will – to live a life of glory rather than a life that leads to a cross. Jesus has the ultimate wilderness experience.

We can identify with wilderness experiences. At one point or another, we can tell our story of our own private wilderness. We have had that desolate place in our lives where we dealt with the temptations and snares of that serpent, Satan.

Whether it’s a dying marriage or a dying love one, we are in a wilderness. It may be a wayward child or unfaithful spouse, but we find ourselves in a wilderness. We may be in a state of joblessness, on the verge of homelessness. We are in a wilderness. We are in a place where we are struggling against Satan and this sinful world.

If we are not fighting poor health, we are fighting powers and principalities in high places. If we are not involved in church conflict, we are in the midst of marital conflict or work place conflict. If we are not wrestling with God, then we are wrestling with God’s people. We are tried and tested on every side. Wild beasts are trying to devour us. Satan attempts to turn us from our Savior – to drive us to doubt and despair. We know all about the wilderness.

In fact, the truth is that we find ourselves in the wilderness every day, for we daily give in to temptation and sin in our thoughts, words, and deeds by what we have done and left undone. Every day we find ourselves in the wilderness being tempted by Satan and giving in to that temptation. We get frustrated with our spouse and angry at our children. We find it easier to focus on what we don’t like about others than to love them for who they are. We talk about others behind their backs. We lust and cheat and lie and the list goes on and on.

What are the wildernesses you find yourself in today? What are the pressures of this sinful world? What sin is recurring in your life? In what ways does Satan keep you in the wilderness? Jesus was in the wilderness for 40 days struggling against Satan. We find ourselves in the wilderness every day struggling against Satan and this sinful world and our own sinful flesh. But this is why Jesus entered into our wilderness. Still drenched with baptismal water, the Holy Spirit drove Jesus into the wilderness of temptation. Heaven and hell were about to exchange blows. And in the celestial realm, you could have heard a pin drop.

In the plush Garden of Eden, the first Adam was defeated by the ancient serpent. But in the wasteland of the Judean wilderness, the second Adam, Jesus, fought off the temptations of the evil one. Every fiery arrow shot from Satan’s bow was doused in the water of the Word of God. Heaven and hell stood toe to-¬toe, and hell and all its power fell.

Do you see what our Lord has done in His conquest of Satan and all his temptations? He has utterly reversed the fall of the first Adam and has brought forward a new humanity, with Himself being a new Adam, who bears in His own body the source of all true and lasting life. What you could not do, Christ has done for you. The tempter whom you could never defeat on your own – Christ has defeated. The new beginning that you could never create – Jesus has created for you.

Satan could not turn Jesus from the cross. It is there that He took all the sin that throws you and me into the wilderness – all the sin that tears us from the Father’s kingdom – all the sin that deserves eternal death/ separation from God forever – to the cross to pay its price in full with His life blood. That is the victory of Good Friday and with Jesus’ resurrection on the 3rd day, that victory is assured and sin is paid for in full.

Our Lord Jesus fought this battle for you and me. His victory over the devil is our victory as well, for all that Christ accomplished has been reckoned to us as our very own. When we fall prey to the temptations of Satan, we flee to the One who defeated Satan. As 1 Corinthians 10 promises: “No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it” (1Cor. 10:13).

Those who are in Christ Jesus can¬not be harmed by the enticements of evil. As in Adam you died in sin, so in the Christ you live. When tempted we flee. When we fall into temptation we repent and return to the Lord. We leave the old Adam with his death, and come to the new Adam with all His life. He will receive and embrace us as His own. He who was tempted for us is never tempted to turn us away. His baptism is our Baptism. His conquering of sin is our conquering of sin. His crucifixion, His resurrection, His ascen¬sion are ours. We have victory over sin, death, and the devil through His victory.

And although we know that God will not spare us crosses, suffer¬ings, and pains and trials in this life, we know that nothing “in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:39). There is no temptation or trial that can change the status of being God’s beloved son or beloved daughter. Luther says it well in our hymn, “And take they our life, good, fame, child and wife, though these all be gone they yet have nothing won, the Kingdom ours remaineth.”

Our Father, “lead us not into temptation,” but lead us into the One who conquered the tempter for us, Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.

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