–By Elizabeth Ahlman
Dazu ist erscheinen der Sohn Gottes, daß er die Werke des Teufels zerstöre (1 Joh. 3,8b Luther Bibel).
For this reason has the Son of God appeared: that He would destroy the work of the devil.
On the first Sunday of Lent we hear read the account of Jesus’ temptation by the devil after His Baptism in the Jordan by John. In the hymnbook of The Independent Evangelical Lutheran Church in Germany (SELK), there is included along with the readings the “Wochenspruch” (the week’s saying) that you see above. When we go forward to announce for Communion shortly before the service starts, the pastor speaks the Wochenspruch to us. What a comfort it is to hear words every week confirming who God is and what He has done for us in Christ! The other benefit of the Wochenspruch is that it ties together the readings, and sets the theme or main idea of that week out in simple, memorable terms. It gets at the heart of what these readings mean for us this week.
The work of the devil is often very present in our reality. He comes at us with all he can in order to separate us from Christ and wear us down. He whispers sweet half-truths in our ears to entice us away from God’s clear Word on any given matter. “Did he REALLY say…no, it’s more like this…Doesn’t that sound better?” “Scriptures says _______ therefore you can do _______.” He twists God’s word to tempt us into acting in ways that are actually contrary to it. When that alone does not work, he may throw difficulties and hardships in our path to try and wear us down — sickness, job loss, betrayal of a friend or trusted family member, betrayal even, perhaps, of our pastors or fellow Christians. Then, he takes another tack. Once we’ve given in and sinned, he comes again to whisper in our ears: “You will never be good enough. Look what you’ve done. God the Father will send His wrath on you.” He accuses and discomforts. He brings us to despair because he brings us first to trust in ourselves and our own actions, and then to realize that they are hopeless.
He tried some of these tricks on our Lord Jesus as well. Fasting and without food and comfort in the desert, Jesus was also attacked by the devil who tried to twist Scripture to suit his ends. “The Scriptures say…” he whispered in Christ’s ear, and Christ answered back with more Scripture: “The Scriptures also say…” He battles the devil word for word, resisting all his temptations to abandon the task at hand: the task for which he was sent — the task of destroying the devil and all his works and ways. By resisting the devil’s works and ways, Jesus was not just giving us a nice example of how we can do the same. If that’s all it was, then we’d be doomed to the same cycle of trying, failing and being accused by the devil for the very failure he orchestrated!
Jesus was doing it FOR us. He withstood the devil’s wiles and by so doing destroyed their power. He destroyed the devil’s attempts to derail Him from His work and left that desert to go about finishing the job. And finish it He did. For when He was nailed to that cross He fulfilled the promise of Genesis 3 and crushed Satan’s head, destroying him and all his works and all his ways. He has no power over us. When he comes at us and even when we fail in the fight, Christ Jesus still wins! And He gives US that victory. The devil’s leash is tight, his time short, his battle already lost. “For this reason has the Son of God appeared: that He would destroy the work of the devil.” Destroy it He did, and we live in that victory as children of God. Therefore say with confidence “get behind me Satan! You can do nothing to me. The spoils belong to the victor and He is my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”
Let us pray: Lord Jesus Christ, You are the Victor over the devil and all his works and ways; we give thanks to You for Your victory for us and we pray that You would sustain us in that victory and faith so that even when the devil attacks, we may know and remember Your victory on our behalf and ever be comforted and brought to eternal life; for You live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
- Read last week’s devotion here.
- Be sure to check in during the Easter season as we bring you Season in Song once again with favorite Easter hymns from our missionaries!