Jesus Does Battle in Our Place
In the Garden, man exalts himself to be a god in place of God (Gen. 3:1_21). He succumbs to the temptation of the devil, and eating of the forbidden fruit, he receives death. But in the sin-cursed wilderness, God humbles Himself to become man in place of man (Mt. 4:1_11). He does not eat but fasts and bears the onslaughts of the devil for us that we may be restored to life. Jesus stands as David in our place to do battle against the Goliath, Satan (1 Samuel 17:40_51). Though outwardly Jesus appears weak, yet He comes in the name of the Lord of hosts. He draws from the five smooth stones of the books of Moses and slings the Word of God. The stone sinks into the forehead, and the enemy falls. In Christ we are victorious over the devil. Let us therefore not receive the grace of God in vain (2 Cor. 6:1_10), but seeing that we have a great High Priest, let us come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain help in time of need (Heb 4:14_16).
Within the liturgy for each Lord’s day, we receive the Word of God through uniquely appointed readings, psalms, hymns, and prayers. This week we will pray the Divine Service Setting One (audio of this liturgy). The following guide will help you to prepare to hear and sing the Propers, i.e. the varied texts and hymns for this week.
Collect of the Day: O Lord God, You led Your ancient people through the wilderness and brought them to the promised land. Guide the people of Your Church that, following our Savior, we may walk through the wilderness of this world toward the glory of the world to come; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
Old Testament: Gen. 3:1-21
Epistle:2 Cor. 6:1-10
Holy Gospel:Matt. 4:1-11
The lyrics were written by Edmann Neumeister and published in 1718. Neumeister was a German Lutheran theologian, poet, hymn writer, and strong opponent of Pietism and is best known for writing the texts for five of Bach’s cantatas. “The main ideas of the hymn are taken directly from the section on Holy Baptism in Luther’s Small Catechism, which, in answer to the question “What benefits does Baptism give? says: “It works forgiveness of sins, rescues from death and the devil and gives eternal salvation to all who believe this, as the words and promises of God declare.”
The Hymnal Supplement Handbook paints a perfect picture of the hymn stating that “one cannot escape the impression of a child standing by an adult protector and ridiculing the neighborhood bully.”[iii] Looking forward to celebrating my baptismal birthday in a few weeks, I sang this song today with confidence that in baptism, through the Holy Spirit and with God’s Word, I am united with Christ in His death, resurrection and eternal life and can boldly turn and tell Satan to “drop your ugly accusations”.
Starke says that his inspiration for this hymn, besides Genesis 3, was the Proper Preface for Passiontide. It reads: “It is truly meet, right, and salutary that we should at all times and in all places give thanks unto You, holy Lord, almighty Father. On the tree of the cross You gave salvation to mankind, that, whence death arose, thence life also might rise again, and that he who by a tree once overcame likewise by a tree might be overcome, through Jesus Christ, Our Lord. Therefore with angels and archangels and with all the company of heaven we laud and magnify Your glorious Name, evermore praising You and saying…” This Proper Preface, and this hymn, rightly identify the cross as the reversal of the curse that came from the tree in the Garden of Eden. There, the fruit of the tree brought condemnation, but now, the Fruit of the Tree, the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, brings salvation.
Written by St. Thomas à Kempis in the early 1400s and Originally penned in Latin, it was later translated to English in the mid 1800’s by Benjamin Webb, a Church of England clergyman. Thomas à Kempis is best known for his devotional book, the Imitation of Christ. This book is one of the most translated works ever written, second only to the Bible.
Venantius Honorius Clementianus Fortunatus (born c. 540), poet and bishop of Poitiers, whose Latin poems and hymns combine echoes of classical Latin poets with a medieval tone, making him an important transitional figure between the ancient and medieval periods. Of his six poems on the subject of the Cross, two are splendid hymns in which the religious note finds its noblest expression: these poems, the Pange lingua and the Vexilla regis, have been translated into English by John Mason Neale as “Sing My Tongue the Glorious Battle” and “The Royal Banners Forward Go.”