“The Holy Spirit leads you or even drives you to gather today” Invocavit 2022

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06. March 2022


Matthew 4:1-11

For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.

In Name of the + Jesus. Amen.

You only know temptation, sin, and demonic evil because you are baptized. Baptism puts you at odds with your own flesh, with this fallen and corrupt world, and with the prince of this world, the Diabolical One. Being baptized, you see yourself differently. You understand this world from a totally new perspective. And you recognize evil and the Evil One as no one else. Baptized into Christ Jesus, you see clearly now what was before known to you in darkness and shadow.

Being baptized, you can call a sin, death, evil, and demonic possession what they are. You don’t have to hide them. You can’t ignore them. You see them and you can’t unsee them. Once Jesus has opened your eyes to see what was once hidden, you won’t be able to ignore these mortal enemies anymore. You can try but it will lead you only into misery, shame, and despair. Or you can follow Christ Jesus into the battle fray, armed to the teeth and shielded with the impenetrable armor of His Word and faith. That’s where the Spirit is leading you and even driving you: acknowledging your sin, renouncing the world, and rebuking the Evil One and all his fallen host. 

That’s why those who live outside of Christ, either in unbelief or in contradiction to their baptism, can’t understand the Confession of Sin. They do not understand themselves as they really are. They do not see the world for what it is. They do not think they wrestle against powers and principalities in the heavenly places. Instead, they might say, “We’re all a little broken but we’re working on it.” They see the world as morally neutral or even a slice of heaven. They cannot believe that this world is held captive under the lies and machinations of chaos, spurred on by the original enemy.

But you see and know the flesh, the world, and the devils for what they are. In faith, you arm yourself daily with God’s Word. Through confession and trust in your baptism, God plunges the Old Adam under the water, that he may daily drown and die with all sins and evil desires. You live in this world and yet not of this world, rejecting the world’s charms, enticements and lusts and living dependent on God, humble in faith, and steadfast in prayer. And when tempted and tried by the Liar of Liars and Murderer, you do not speak falsehood but tell the truth. You do not trust your eyes and experience, but believe the Word of Jesus. You do not subject yourself again to the Evil One, but reject all his works and all his ways. 

The Holy Spirit leads you or even drives you to gather today and every Sabbath around Jesus and His Supper. Working through your Baptism and by His Word, the Spirit gives you the belief that this is exactly where you need to be. The bells are ringing. The people are gathering. The table is set. What else could you possibly need to do or where else might you be? Where else can you go to confront and answer for your sin, to set you in the right relationship with God and your neighbor, and where your enemies are exposed and their lies defeated? 

Remember Luther’s Christian Questions and Their Answers? “What should admonish and encourage a Christian to receive the Sacrament frequently?” He gives you to confess: First, both the command and the promise of Christ the Lord. Second, his own pressing need, because of which the command, encouragement, and promise are given.

“But what should you do if you are not aware of this need and have no hunger and thirst for the Sacrament?” To such a person no better advice can be given than this: first, he should touch his body to see if he still has flesh and blood. Then he should believe what the Scriptures say of it in Galatians 5 and Romans 7. Second, he should look around to see whether he is still in the world, and remember that there will be no lack of sin and trouble, as the Scriptures say in John 15–16 and in 1 John 2 and 5. Third, he will certainly have the devil also around him, who with his lying and murdering day and night will let him have no peace, within or without, as the Scriptures picture him in John 8 and 16; 1 Peter 5; Ephesians 6; and 2 Timothy 2. 

God’s Word has spoken. Believe it. Ah, but that Old Adam keeps lying. He says to you, “Don’t worry, you can always confess tomorrow.” He lies to you, telling you that, “The world can be redeemed if only you give peace a chance (or some other trite slogan.” He blinds you to the spiritual reality that the devil prowls about like a roaring lion seeking to devour. He tells you that the old maxim, “Here be dragons,” is just a medieval superstition and that you are not in danger of relapse into sin, dying outside of faith, or once again enslaving yourself to sin. Your Old Adam, the sinful flesh, has been and always will be in league with the darkness, demonic, and hell-bent on chaos and destruction. As Pogo said, “We Have Met the Enemy and He Is Us.” And therefore, there’s only one thing to do to him. Kill him. And that’s exactly what Jesus is doing to you today again and every day: killing the old Adam and raising anew Christ in you. 

In particular today Jesus sets before you a table in the midst of your enemies, even before you who once was even His enemy. But Jesus is long-suffering, gracious, merciful. His lovingkindness is steadfast and never ends. He takes you and makes you His friends again, by forgiving you. And forgiving you, He raises you to new life. And having new life in Him, You know and trust that eternal life with Jesus and all the saints is yours. All this He does by His Word and Spirit in the Supper. His body and blood are proof that the warfare is ended. Sin is forgiven. Your enemies are defeated, the world, the devil, and even your own flesh.

The peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Amen.

Rev. Christopher R. Gillespie
St. John Ev. Lutheran Church & School – Sherman Center
Random Lake, Wisconsin