Let Thy Holy Angel Be With Me
Saint Matthew 4. 1-11
INVOCAVIT: 17 February Anno Domini 2013
In The + Name of Jesus
Jesus was led by the Spirit shortly after the Father had called Him His beloved Son. The Jordan baptism was public and observed by many, the desert battle was observed by only the Trinity and the angels.
The Ten Commandments still apply to all of you. Lent focuses your attention on God’s Law. The God Who scribed those stones was the Redeemer Who freed the Hebrews from Egyptian captivity. Those Israelites were to obey God…they did not. Even after their rebellion (indeed they murmured against their own pastor—threatening to stone Moses) the Redeemer gave them cool water from a Rock, a large stone indeed.
Like the Hebrews, YOU, are to obey the Word written on stone tablets. You do not. You have your entire life, your “forty years” in the wilderness of sin, just like the Hebrews did. And because you would die in the desert and be buried under stones and rock and dust…ashes to ashes…just like so many of them, the Redeemer Himself comes and sets things right.
The same devil that defeated Adam in combat forcing him out into the desert to eat bread grown from stone-filled earth; the same devil that caused the Hebrews to hate the Word and instead dance around a golden calf; was met face-to-face, eyeball-to-eyeball by the Second Adam: Emmanuel!
Doing what you won’t do, what even Saint Moses couldn’t do, Jesus fasted forty days and nights, abstaining from the mammon of the broken world to subsist and eat only the Words of His Father. The Word made Flesh was fed on the Word which was God—The Holy Trinity Himself. Do you get hungry and thirsty? Do you know what’s it’s like to go without necessities? Do you know what’s it like to be lonely and surrounded by wild things? So does Jesus! He battled with every one of your trespasses for forty days even before the dragon arrived for the penultimate battle.
The devil tempted Him thrice; very Trinitarian of him wasn’t it…in a malevolent serpent-like mockery.
He told Jesus to make stones into food. The devil was reminding Him that that was what He had precisely done in the desert for Moses…He had given manna on the ground right next to the stones and life out of a rock. The devil knew God had made Adam out of the earth (crushed rocks and stones, if you will). But to do what Satan suggests, even when it makes sense, even when your body, mind, and will desires it so (like in every one of your daily temptations) is to die. Jesus could have made stones into fresh bread, but to do so would have been death for you. To have eaten devil-dough would have been to eat the sourdough of the forbidden fruit. Adam’s sin, the Hebrew’s sin, and your sin would have gone unrepaired. Had He listened to Satan, Christ would have been defeated and your fate would sealed...sealed in a tomb covered with stones just like rebellious Absalom when he defied God’s chosen King.
The devil quoted the Psalter, out-of-context of course, to provoke Christ to hurl Himself off of the Temple Mount. Satan knew all the prophecies. Satan knew that the angels were to bear up God’s Anointed lest He dash His foot. Satan was, in essence, challenging Jesus to test death itself. “If you are the Word, the Resurrection, prove it…jump, for You’ll either be caught by pesky seraphs or You’ll die and be buried under stones…then we can all see if this resurrection stuff is true…prove it!”
Jesus did what you are to do and don’t do…He refused to listen to the liar; He clung to the Word of God; He believed in His Father’s love even while His belly burned and His mouth was cracked for lack of water.
In the final trial Christ refused glory, honor, power, fame, wealth and all the things you so crave. Jesus gave up everything that you think is essential (family, career, education, life-style, leisure, entertainment, acceptance, affirmation, food, drink, money, and fun) and simply clung to the Word. Jesus clamped down His sacred mouth on the Word and fed from God.
The devil was defeated not by miracles, power, glory, numbers, excitement, and good feelings. The devil was defeated by the Word of God. He would soon be crushed by the same saving—stone, the Rock of Ages, on a hilltop made of stones, skulls, blood and bone: Calvary (the place of the skull).
Yes, fight the good fight my fellow desert warriors. Look to Moses’ words, GOD’s LAW, as the true indictment against your daily failings and inner failing as fallen creature. The Law is good when it crushes you in to bloody stones by its righteous weight. But know this and believe this: Christ has fought and defeated the wily foe. One little Word has felled the murderous beast.
You don’t go looking for the snake. You’re rightfully wary and concerned with his diabolic temptations and traps. You don’t presume to tempt God’s angels if you’ve done stupid and reckless things that the Lord has not asked you to do. You don’t even have to try and fight the devil man-to-demon with your knowledge of the Word and your ability to wield it like the Apostle mentions. You are not the conqueror of Satan. You are kin of the One Who has already won all your fights and battles!
Pray the Word of God, the Psalter, but when you fail, know that the Lord prays for you! Read the Word of God, especially the Torah, Esaias, Romans, and the Evangels, but when you fail, know that the Lord IS ALL that Word, those words, and constantly loves, protects, and forgives you. Meditate upon the Crucifix of Christ Crucified; your Holy + Baptism; and the goodness of His Person and Work; but when you fail, know that He and His Holy Ghost brings you right back here for more peace and absolution. Receive Him, His true Body and real Blood, and be In Him as He is placed in to you. You don’t fail Jesus’ Eucharistic feast this day. You are out of the desert, out of the stones, and carried forward by ministering angels to the Table, the green grass, the still waters, and His cup overfloweth into you.
In The Name of The Father and + of The Son and of The Holy Ghost