LENT 1, A – March 5, 2017

SCRIPTURES – Genesis 3:1-21; Romans 5:12-17; Matthew 4:1-11 

Adam named his wife Eve, because she would become the mother of all the living.

 

I’ve attended a couple of wakes recently. Most of you know what they’re like and what to expect. There’s the deceased and the family, in their best clothes. There are people who don’t necessarily know what to say. There is the grief of sadness and loss, and sometimes a wondering of how to go on.

In Genesis 3 we see a wake, of a sort, taking place after Adam and Eve sin. They are in special clothes that they have made, the first they’ve ever worn! – and they’re not very good. They don’t know what to say, and what they do say is not very good. They are sad and wonder how they can go on, for death confronts them. It is all they can see.

But, when God comes to their wake, everything changes! He promises them a Savior, who will crush their enemy the devil. He preserves their lives and their marriage. He brings them new and better clothes. God changes everything. He restores life and give hope. Now, even in the face of sin and death and while dealing with its consequences, they can boldly confess life!

This is what Adam does. By naming his wife Eve – which means, life – Adam confesses life: life that will continue, life with God. On this 1st Sunday in Lent, let us, also, confess the life and hope we have, because of God and in God.

We do so by trusting in God; believing that He is good and loving, and so believing, and saying, that what He does is also good and loving. Such trust is faith. It is what God wants and deserves.

Such belief in the goodness and mercy of God is difficult in this sin-filled world. For, as descendants of Adam and Eve, we share in their fallen nature. We are sinners. We do not see things as God does, and our desires are often contrary to His. This makes Him seem wrong to us. The confession, then, of Eve – life – is very bold.

“Did God actually say…?” begins the devil. By twisting what God said he makes it seem to Adam and Eve as if God is holding back and being unfair. “God knows that when you eat your eyes will be opened, and you will be like Him” – and wouldn’t that be good? Why doesn’t He want you to be like Him? The devil makes one very simple command appear to be unjust, the attempt to keep them from having and enjoying what is good. Since his success with them we are all very prone to thinking that we know what is good and should be allowed to follow our desires. If what God says and commands opposes this, well, He must be wrong!

God is never wrong. He never holds back but always gives. This is His nature. This goodness in Him is seen especially when it is held up to our sin. Look at how He responds to Adam and Eve, His beloved children! They fear Him and run away from Him; and He seeks them out. They refuse to confess their own wrong but point the finger at others, and even Him – “The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me the fruit…” – and He does not condemn. Instead, He promises to send a Savior to crush their enemy and rescue them. That Savior is Jesus, the Son of God Himself. How great are God’s mercy and love in Him! This is our bold confession of life.

Of course, there are judgments laid upon Adam and Eve; and upon us all. Pain in childbearing, from the beginning of pregnancy to birth… and on. Marital strife, and due especially to our desire to rule and have our own way. Hard toil in our labors, with thistles and thorns as the results. Many are the burdens laid upon us in this world because of our sins. Confessing the life we have in God, we see that they are not the punishments of an enemy who hates us but the disciplines of a good and merciful Father who loves us. By them He reminds us of where our desires lead, and turns us from them. He creates a yearning within us for a new and better life, the one He has promised us with Him in heaven. Life may be difficult, but it is still life; and is still lived with God. “Eve,” Adam says to this. Life. God is with us! Our lives go on with Him.

We confess this at wakes, in the presence of death. We confess this by bearing our hardships with hope and without grumbling. God, our merciful Father, is with us! Our lives continue, and are precious in Him.

It is above all His Word, His Scriptures, that tell us this. They tell us of God, and the life we have from Him and in Him. Our strength and hope and victory and life are in His Word. And so, the greatest confession of God as the giver of life is listening to and trusting His Word. This is a confession of life. And, this is why the devil directs his greatest attacks upon God’s Word.

In Jesus especially we see this. The devil’s twisting of God’s good word to Adam and Eve is greatly magnified as he tempts Jesus. First, he tries to get Jesus to ignore God’s Word and prove He is God’s almighty Son by turning stones into bread. But, God had already said this at Jesus’ baptism. Jesus trusts that word and says that it is His bread, His life. Satan then quotes Psalm 91 to Him, and yet twists its meaning. Finally, Satan tries to get Jesus to not wait upon God’s Word, His promise of future glory, but to take it now. We see in this Jesus facing temptation like you and me. He is human and weak; but, He is a child of God. He trusts in and follows God’s Word as His defense and life, and it gives Him the victory. It is your defense and life, also. Jesus has confirmed it as God’s voice and God’s life.

Today God has spoken to you. He has pronounced you to be forgiven of all of your sins by virtue of the obedience of the one man, Jesus – His obedient trust of God’s Word, and His obedient death for us sinners upon the cross. You have been made righteous in Him. You are God’s child, and the devil and all of his temptations are under your feet.

Believe and hold to this Word of God, for the devil will not give up. While you live in this sin-filled world, you will be tempted in many ways. God will be made to seem weak, uncaring, and far away.

But He is never far from His children. From you! For, in your baptism He clothed you with Christ Himself, covered your sins, and took you as His own child! He is your Father, and your life is precious to Him. Life – here and now, lived under His watchful eye and merciful care, and forever in heaven – is yours! With Adam, then, confess life. Eve. Life is ours, in the name and by the blessing of Jesus Christ, our Lord! Amen.