Nagel on Matthew 4:1-11

        The names put on Jesus at His baptism were Son of God and Suffering Servant. With those names came what was His to do. The voice from heaven spoke words from Psalm 2 and Isaiah 42. “Son of God” was used to describe the people of Israel; the people of Israel are gathered up in their king. The Davidic title, Son of God, is put on Jesus at His baptism, which is His anointing to kingship. “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased” (Matthew 3:17). “Beloved” and “with whom I am well pleased” were said in Isaiah of that Son of God, that Servant of God. We will hear the names “Son” and “Servant” again at Jesus’ transfiguration as He stands with Moses and Elijah, speaking of the death that He would accomplish.
Then we are told Christ would make Himself a sacrifice for sin. He will make many to be accounted righteous, for He will bear their iniquities. Such is the Son, Servant of God, the King who stands for His people, the Christ, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” The next thing that Matthew tells us is that
Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted
by the devil. And he fasted forty days and forty nights, and
                                               afterward he was hungry. And the tempter came and said to
                                               him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to
become loaves of bread.” But he answered, “It is written, ‘Man
shall not live by bread alone,but by every word that proceed
from the mouth of God.’” (Matthew 4:1-4 RSV)
The last words from the mouth of God to Jesus were “This is My beloved Son, in whom I well pleased (Matthew 3:17). The tempter cast doubt on these words: “If You are the Son of God.” This is similar to the first temptation that involved us all: “Hath God said, ‘Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?'” (Genesis 3:1). The devil is saying, “Doesn’t God want you to have food? Doesn’t He want you to have what is good for you? Doesn’t God love you? So take the fruit.” Eve did take the fruit. And with her sin, her taking, her unbelief, she brought all her children into bondage, one from which, try as they may, they can never get free. All their efforts bring them deeper into slavery, no matter how many styles of fig leaves they try.
In Jesus’ temptation, when everything that is wrong with us hangs on Jesus, He did not sin. The words of God come first and are sure: “It is written: Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4). Jesus’ victory is not with some magical blast but in the strength of the words of the Lord. The same words have been give to you too. Jesus was tempted to slip away from the words of God, away from the cross, into the bondage and slaveries of power. For Him to grasp power as the way of being a Servant/Son/King would make bad news out of the Good News. It would mean that is indeed the way everything goes. Everybody wants power, even God. Those who look for a big power god get that kind of god. The ways of power and coercion and necessity. God does not want to deal with us with coercion. That is not His saving way with us in Jesus. Jesus came to set us free—no whip, no rope, no slaves. (p. 86-87)

        Religion comes in the next temptation. And what could be more religious than the temple and its pinnacle? The devil knows how to behave himself in church. A telling word of Scripture would be just the thing that is called for. He has one, but one fixed to fit his purpose. No captive is more delicious to the devil’s taste than one he captures by using the words and the name of God. Verbal inspiration is not his primary problem. The devil can cite Scripture for his purpose, says Shakespeare. And every heretic can too, says Tertullian. So Satan tempts: “If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down, for it is written, ‘He will give His angels charge of you, and on their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone'” (Matthew 4:6 RSV). You can trust God’s promises, can’t you? Satan certainly sometimes sounds like s reasonably good Lutheran, doesn’t he?
Jesus sees it straight because He says God’s word straight. There won’t be any tempting of God, calling Him up for a miracle, or all those more subtle ways in which we try to get in on God’s power and use it to our purpose–even good purposes, perhaps. But with us, getting control of God, binding Him, is the native meaning of the word religion. Thant can be a dirty word.
Jesus, who refused to do a spectacular miracle in the temple, could not be taken captive there. A few years ago it was quite the thing to say, “You won’t find Jesus here in church. He is out there in the world doing what people need to have done for them there. That is the real Jesus.” Satan seems to follow something of the same line of thought. The devil took Jesus to a high mountain, showed Him all the kingdom of the world and their glory, and said to Him, “All these I will give You if You will fall down and worship Me. You can be king of the lot, Jesus. All the power that is mine I will put at Your disposal. The two of us together can hardly fail, if You will only do things a bit more my way.” (p. 88)

        Satan’s sort of king is not the one who hangs on the cross, the one who resists temptation on His way to the cross. Along that way we follow again with Jesus this Lent, deeply rejoicing in what He does for us, in what is only His to do, in what He does that counts for us, in what He does on the cross by which we come to be forgiven and righteous. “By one man’s obedience. . . shall many be made righteous” (Romans 5:19). Only God (who doesn’t have to prove He is God) does it. So hidden, so human, so weak, so hungry, so declining to make it big in the church or in the world. Here is the way of the cross. That is the way Jesus does it.
One expectation of the Messiah would be that He would be invulnerable. Nothing could hurt Him, not even a fall from the pinnacle of the temple. Now there is a sensible sort of Christ. And Satan rides along on our natural way of projecting God and getting maximum mileage with our “religion,” No wonder they had no use for a man who got Himself crucified! There was never such a way of being a king before, of being God’s Son, the Suffering Servant, of being Christ, of being Savior, of being Jesus for you, even to His body broken and His bleed shed—for you. Amen. (p. 89)

Select Sermons of Norman Nagel
First Sunday in Lent
Matthew 4:1-11
Concordia Seminary (1995)


Judica OT Sermon Start

Judica OT Sermon 2013
Genesis 22:1-14
March 17, 2013
Rev. Ed Maanum

One of my earliest memories of Sunday School is being taught the song “Father Abraham” by my teacher, who happened to be my mom. The words are simple and are learned fairly quickly: “Father Abraham had many sons, and many sons had father Abraham. I am one of them, and so are you, so let’s all praise the Lord.” Followed by the Sunday School version of the hokey pokey and repeating as long as the kids are willing.
But, before this morning’s OT lesson, Abraham was told to basically disown Ishmael, his son of the flesh, and his mom, the midwife Hagar. The heartache and pain of this great man while doing so must have been nigh unbearable and excruciating. One son gone, one to go.
This morning Abraham is told to sacrifice Isaac his son of promise. The Holy Trinity makes this request to see if Abraham’s faith in them is greater than his love for his son. If Abraham’s heart was healing from casting out Ishmael it surely would have been shattered into thousand upon thousands of shards that no man could reassemble. Not just his heart but his very soul feeling as it was ripped right out from his chest. Who could blame him if he fainted or his heart gave out when God commanded this task be followed.
Two sons down…. two sons gone, one of flesh and one of promise leaving Abraham none to go.
Isaac is Abraham’s son guaranteed by God about 25 years before he was born. God promised the world would be blessed through Abraham and his son. Now that son of promise, that son of blessing, that son who was born from his wife Sarah, is supposed to die.
How could Abraham be father Abraham, if he has no sons? How can the world be blessed through this man and his seed, if he has no seed or offspring to speak of because God wanted them eliminated to test Abraham’s faith? How can Abraham be so unwavering in his trust of God that everything would be all right when it was all said and done?
Abraham had confidence and trust that God would raise Isaac from the dead (Hebrews 11:19). Whether that resurrection was right after the knife plunged into Isaac taking his last breath or on the last day, we do not know. We know that Abraham knew that God could will Isaac to live, and He does.
So with all bold confidence, heart shattered, eyes red from crying, and checks wet with those tears, Abraham collects himself. Without hesitation he gathers the needed equipment; a sharp knife for sacrificing, wood for burning his son to ashes and turn him into the dust from which he comes, servants and donkey to carry their gear for the journey, and lastly, his son of promise whom he loved. They traveled the next morning to mountains of Moriah.
On the third day of their journey, Abraham tells his servants to stay put and he and Isaac with travel alone to make sacrifice on the mountain top for all the world to see. We don’t have the exact age of Isaac when this happened, some Jewish scholars suggest 13, others like Josephus say Isaac was 25. Whatever the age Isaac was he would have been old enough to know something was wrong and does.
He carries the wood on which he will be burned after his blood is spilled like some pagan ritual that the heathens performed to curry favor with their blood thirsty gods.
He trusts his father, and God. He merely asks, “Behold, the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for a burn offering?” Abraham with those tear soaked eyes, and blurry vision, tells his son, “God will provide for himself the lamb for a burn offering, my son.”
It is as if Abraham was thinking, “My son of promise. My son of such a young age. Oh, how I wish I could take your place. How I wish it was me to die. How I have almost died these past few days from a heart broken and from anguish. It should be you who close my eyes when I die not me seeing your life leaving yours when I plunge this knife into you”
With shaking hand Abraham ties up his willing son for sacrifice while pronouncing his love for him and the truth of God and that they would see each other again on the day of resurrection.
He lifts the knife and when he is ready to plunge the knife into his son to end his precious life, Jesus stayed his hand. Jesus says, “Do not lay your hand on the boy or do anything to him, for now I know that you fear God, seeing you have not withheld your son, your only son, from me.”
Abraham rejoices with sobs of joy replacing cries of pain. His heart is mended by God. A ram is sacrificed that was caught in thorns instead of Isaac. Their faith that God would provide has proven true.
Abraham knew what Gods’ saving grace meant. A ram was used instead of a lamb for sacrifice. He knew one day that the Lamb would be sacrificed by God. Abraham knew that it was by the blood that eternal redemption was secured (Heb 9:12). He was rejoicing that he could see this day… the day of Jesus, and he was glad because it meant God doing the sacrifice of His Son instead of Isaac. He was glad because it meant that he would be redeemed from sin. He was glad because it meant the resurrection was true because no grave can hold God.
Today we share Abraham’s gladness and joy without first going through his torment, heartbreak and pain. We rejoice because God sent Jesus, announced by angels and born of Mary.
This Jesus, as the Gospel shows us this morning, is both Priest and Victim. He consecrated Himself for you, so that you “may also be sanctified in truth.” (John 17:19).
Years after Isaac and Abraham came down from Mount Moriah, Jesus walked up it. Moriah means “divine service,” and this morning we see this divine service coming into fruition to save you from son. Jesus was hoisted upon the cross on Mt Moriah in the midst of Jerusalem for all the world to see the glory of God’s love for His creation, a love that meant sacrificing His only-begotten Son of Promise, Jesus. A sacrifice that was a true Guilt Offering, by which the whole record of debt of sin was paid, so that God the Father requires nothing from you.
This began in the Garden of Gethsemane when Jesus left HIs disciples who slept instead of keeping watch, to pray with the Father. Like Isaac, He asks only a simple question knowing the answer, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.” (Luke 22).
His torment began in the Garden, when, like a grape in a winepress that leaks it’s juice before bursting, Jesus was bleeding from His pores. Knowing the anguish, pain, the heartbreak of everything that was awaiting Him. Knowing there was no other way. Knowing that God the Father would fulfill what He began with Abraham and Isaac and include resurrection from the dead.
For you, Jesus fulfilled the words of Isaiah 53, “He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth.”
Jesus was quietly bound before Caiaphas, Herod and Pilate. He carried the wood of His sacrifice on which He was bound without being removed at the final second because the Father’s could not and would not be stayed His righteous hand.
He was burned to ash and dust from two fires that were attacking Him at once. First, the Father’s burning wrath against sin, to save sinners from eternal death. The second fire, was the burning fire of hell nipping at His feet, tempting Him one last time to sin and fall down at the devil’s feet, to come down from the cross, to save Himself the trouble, the heartbreak, the anguish.
Just like the substitutionary ram, Jesus was caught in thorns and wore them upon His brow. The crown of thorns worn as a payment for Adam and Eve wanting to trade in their crowns of righteousness for knowledge of good and evil and a symbol of God’s curse of thorns in Genesis 3. Jesus thereby turned the crown of thorns that you wear on your heads created by sin into a new crown of life, crafted by His own hands, placed upon you by those hands in Baptism, and strengthened by those same hands in the Sacrament of the Altar.
On the third day Isaac was resurrected and lived in Abraham’s heart and in his fatherly embrace. He was pulled from the anguish of death by the staying hand of Jesus who then took the death Isaac deserved, Abraham deserved, you deserved in the tomb for three days. Then He burst forth from the prison of death, breaking it’s bonds and bursting a whole in it’s side for you to pass through and live.
Jesus is Abraham and Isaac perfected this morning. Jesus is the ram substitute perfected as the Lamb of God. Jesus is your substitute giving you life eternal so that whoever “believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life” (John 3:16) and “whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live” (John 11:25).

Modern Lutheran Quote of the Day

Our Lord’s assertion that in heaven He is preparing a place for us has similar significance. By His crucifixion and resurrection He has made it possible for us to get to heaven. (Here we incorporate––rather than omit––the superbly explicit Gospel that the text provides in verse 6: “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by Me.”) And, really, that’s plenty. What more can we expect than that Jesus should live on our earth, die, and rise again so that we might go to heaven? But Jesus doesn’t stop there. He does more than expected. Not only does He make it possible for us to get to heaven but He also prepares a place for us there. He goes to fuss and bother. He engages in “heavenly housework,” so to speak. It’s all very flattering. We’re special in His sight, “a chosen generation.” “the apple of His eye,” “kings and priests unto God,” “the bride of the Lamb.” He longs for our arrival; He can’t wait till we get there. He wants everything shipshape when we arrive; He makes sure that there will be no disappointment, when we reach our heavenly mansion. All these stirring implications can be unpacked from the simple assertion “I go to prepare a place for you.”

Preaching the Creative Gospel Creatively
Francis C Rossow p. 62-63

Modern Lutheran Quote of the Day

Next let us consider three Gospel-images rapidly waning in contemporary usage. The first of these is what has been called the “classic” presentation of the atonement (e.g., Gen. 3:15; Luke 11:21-22; 22:53; Col. 1:12-13). The “classic” approach pictures our salvation primarily in terms of an epic, cosmic, cataclysmic struggle between “two mighty opposites”; the antagonist, Satan, representing the kingdom of darkness, and the protagonist, Jesus, representing the kingdom of light. The plan of salvation is more than a matter between a holy, loving God and a sinful, rebellious people. The devil is involved too. (I suspect it is forgetfulness of the devil that is largely responsible for contemporary disuse of the “classic” approach to the Gospel.) The plan of salvation involves a struggle bigger than any one of us. It began long before we appeared on the scene, and mopping up operations will continue long after our earthly exit. It is a struggle outside our self and outside our planet. John Milton’s Paradise Lost and John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress are literary representations of the Bible’s “classic” depiction of the atonement. J. R. R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings trilogy and C. S. Lewis’ space trilogy and Chronicles of Narnia are recent attempts to revive modern awareness of the epic struggle between God and Satan for the prize of the human soul and have done much to reduce that forgetfulness of the devil so dangerous to contemporary society. 

Preaching the Creative Gospel Creatively
Francis C Rossow p. 43

Modern Lutheran Quote of the Day

We usually associate life with the ingredients of food and drink and with the activities of eating and drinking. That is precisely what we have in the Lord’s Supper: the ingredients of food and drink (bread-body and wine-blood) and the activities of eating and drinking. The Lord’s Supper makes it especially clear that in all the means of grace we are absorbing not merely ideas but primarily spiritual life and nourishment. 

Preaching the Creative Gospel Creatively
Francis C Rossow p. 38



Modern Lutheran Quote of the Day

It is my plea in this chapter that we also talk about Jesus’ suffering of hell for us in our presentation of the literal Gospel. So often in out preaching on the crucifixion, we appropriately point out that Christ was executed for our sins but then inappropriately fail to point out that He was also damned for those sins. We see men mistreating Jesus on Calvary, but we rail to see God forsaking His Son there. We see the blood, but we fail to see the hell. Frankly, I do not often find the fact of Christ’s damnation in our behalf surfacing in sermons, theological articles, commentaries, or even dogmatics textbooks. Even when the subject does arise, the writer more often than not merely flirts with the fact or engages in euphemism. 

Preaching the Creative Gospel Creatively
Francis C Rossow p. 27