1st Sunday in Lent – C LSB #’s 766:1-3, 766:4-6, 923
Text – Deuteronomy 26: 5
And you shall make response before the Lord your God, ‘A wandering Aramean was my father.’
WHO IS YOUR FATHER?
The summer after I graduated from high school the very 1st Star Wars movie premiered & it was a phenomenal blockbuster of a movie. One of the still climactic scenes of the entire series is when the arch villain, Darth Vader, tells the hero Luke Skywalker that they are father & son. Vader is hoping that Luke will join him on the dark side of the force.
Even secular research indicates that who your father is has a huge effect on the development of your sense of identity. Where you believe you have come from plays a crucial role in your formation as a responsible & considerate adult. At that point, the secular world of psychology pretty leaves in the dust any agreement with Christianity on the topic of fatherhood.
That disagreement stems from their absolute rejection of the concept of a Creator God. For the secular world, evolution is the predominant understanding of how humans have come into existence. The Christian view, that sees Yahweh as Creator of all things, blesses us with a very different basis for the development of our identity.
With the evolutionary model, the only identity you can have is one that you create for yourself. There’s nothing outside of you with any transcendent power or wisdom or plan to make an identity for you. Who you then choose to be is entirely limited by the power you have to make it happen. It’s part of our sinful nature to greatly overestimate our abilities in this.
The Word of God reveals a very different picture of life than the evolutionary model. Granted, they both see & acknowledge the brokenness of this world. However, they ascribe vastly different causes to the misery of life here on earth, & thus, they prescribe vastly different solutions. As I said earlier the evolutionary model tells us that we can choose our own identity & be successful. What that model ignores is how powerless we actually are to do anything of the sort. Again, it’s part of our sinful nature to greatly overestimate our abilities. The Bible does not mince words regarding how powerless mankind is, but Isaiah really boils it down to its essence in chapter 64:
“We are all infected & impure with sin. When we display our righteous deeds, they are nothing but filthy rags. Like autumn leaves, we wither & fall, & our sins sweep us away like the wind.” (64:6 NLT) Those words apply to everything we think & say & do. Without Jesus Christ we are worse than nothing. We are headed straight for hell.
That is the only identity you & I can choose or make for ourselves. Otherwise, it is God’s will that everyone be saved; everyone be granted the identity – child of God. If parents are living in Christ they have their children baptized as soon as possible, because that is the means through which our heavenly Father desires to welcome us into His family.
It is in baptism that Yahweh bestows upon a child the blessing of this identity – child of God. It is through baptism that Yahweh becomes our Father. As a child is baptized into the name of the Father, Son & Holy Spirit, they are called to the light side of the force, if you will. St. Peter put it this way:
“But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for His own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.” (1 Peter 2:9-10 ESV)
In baptism the Creator of the universe begins to recreate us into His image. Since our life with God begins at baptism, we remember that event through beginning our worship service with these words, “In the name of the Father, & of the Son & of the Holy Spirit.” Our new life, our new creation begins in baptism & our worship services reflect that, because, as you hear the Word of God, & receive the body & blood of Christ’s resurrected body, here too, each Sunday in God’s house your life begins anew. If you grasp the reality of that, it is pure insanity not to be here, but that’s what sin is – pure insanity. Even our righteous deeds are insanely filthy.
That is our existence without God as our Father. The Gospel of John records these words as Jesus speaks to religious leaders who’ve been deceived into thinking they can create their own identity:
“They answered him, ‘Abraham is our father.’ Jesus said to them, ‘If you were Abraham’s children, you would be doing the works Abraham did… ‘If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God & I am here. I came not of my own accord, but He sent me. Why do you not understand what I say? It is because you cannot bear to hear my word. You are of your father the devil, & your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, & does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar & the father of lies.’” (8:39, 42-44 ESV)
Jesus makes it very clear that who your father is is critically important. Yahweh is offering us life through the blood of His Son. Satan lies to us, & under that guise is death, but he won’t tell you that. In all three temptations of the Gospel reading, the devil makes it sound like he’s offering Jesus something valuable & good. Yet, each temptation was a disguise for death.
The devil was offering Jesus a new identity, no different than what he offered to Adam & Eve. Do you remember those words? “For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, & you will be like God…” (Genesis 3:5 ESV) Lucifer is offering them the ultimate in new identity – to be like God – yet, underneath that offer is total separation from God.
In the book of Deuteronomy, our heavenly Father is calling us to join Him on the light side of the force. Yahweh calls us to this in our baptism. The major emphasis of Deuteronomy is the theology of the Torah, that is, the good news of the Gospel which empowers & motivates all valid obedience before God. Without that good news you & I are, & can do, nothing. The good news of the Gospel is that Jesus has removed the curtain between us & our Creator. It’s no coincidence that when the Son of God died, the temple curtain was torn in two. You are now welcome in God’s house, to approach His altar, & to receive His gifts directly from His hand.
Jesus is the sacrificial Lamb of God’s Passover. For the Israelites, & for us, the covenant event of Mt. Sinai continues to happen. Each generation is to regard themselves as having come out of Egypt, having been redeemed from slavery by Yahweh. For you & me, we have been rescued from slavery to sin & ushered into the Promised Land, all through one fell swoop.
In Christ, God has redeemed us through baptism, & it is God’s saving act that identifies who we are. To deny that He created us, or to deny that He rescued us, is to deny the identity which gains admission into the true Promised Land of heaven.
Maybe you remember the parable about the wedding feast. The guests whom the king invited refused to attend. Some even seized his servants, treated them shamefully, & killed them. The king sent his troops & destroyed those murderers & burned their city. Then, he sent his servants to the main roads to invite others to the feast so that the hall was filled with guests.
“But when the king came in to look at the guests, he saw there a man who had no wedding garment. And he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding garment?’ And he was speechless. Then the king said to the attendants, ‘Bind him hand & foot & cast him into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping & gnashing of teeth.’”
The point of Jesus’ parable is that the man had rejected the robe of righteousness Jesus had won for him. The man had rejected the identity that God the Father had given him. Any other identity does not cover our sins. That only comes from Jesus, the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. Without His righteousness your heart or mine cannot be changed.
Without a strong sense of identity we’re easily tossed to & fro by every wind of doctrine,
by people’s trickery, by their craftiness in deceitful scheming. All the rage in our time is to say that we have the right & the power to choose our own sexual identity. Satan offers it under the guise of gaining ‘freedom’ from the restraints placed upon us by a rigid & evil society.
However, the devil’s temptation flies in the face of God’s Word regarding where our sexual identity comes from: “This is the book of the generations of Adam. When God created man, He made him in the likeness of God. Male & female He created them, & He blessed them & named them Man when they were created. (Genesis 5:1-2 ESV)
Remembering the source of our existence is crucial to our identity & mission. That’s why those who are behind the teaching of evolution, & are honest about it, admit that their goal is to eliminate the need for a Creator God. They do not want to remember the source of their existence. They do not want to thank Him for the many gifts with which He has blessed them.
That’s why Satan is attacking our culture in that way right now. It’s why the opposition to the Ark Encounter & the Creation Museum was so virulent & persistent. Eliminating the need for a Creator God, & forgetting or denying the source of our existence, opens the door to choosing whatever identity you like.
The life of the people of God depends on remembering, & thanksgiving for, the great deeds of Yahweh to rescue His people & deliver them from death. Remembering whose we are is far more important than anything we do, because the branch cannot produce fruit unless it is connected to the vine. To deny Jesus as the Vine is to cut ourselves off from life.
To believe that Jesus is the source of our life gives us a foundation of love to build upon. His resurrection guarantees that it is a permanent foundation as well. He has defeated death & decay, the two scourges of everything man does apart from Christ. Having Yahweh as our father gives us a permanent & loving foundation upon which to grow & build our identity. In the spiritual realm our works here on this earth will continue on into eternity. That’s something which evolutionists only hope to accomplish through downloading their brain to a computer. Jesus offers eternal life with a perfected & glorious body connected to our sinless soul. Those are two very different promises.
God’s children ascribe the brokenness of this life to sin, & we trust that God’s Son has overcome that. We will see the full results on the day of the resurrection from the dead. The secular world ascribes the brokenness of this life to intolerant or rigid people. Their only hope is to erase everyone like that. The problem with their solution is that they must be erased as well.
It’s true, most of them don’t realize that, or are unwilling to acknowledge it. Many of them, like Darth Vader, are trying to win us over or to destroy us. In the fictional case of Darth Vader, the love of his son drew him back to the light. There are many real life cases where that is also true. Everyone who is a child of God has been won over by love – the love of Jesus.
And since God did create us with a good & loving purpose in mind that gives us a solid foundation upon which to build the identity that God created us for. In life, we need not be afraid whatever befalls us, as long as we keep turning our heart to Yahweh as our loving & almighty Father. As Moses wrote in Deuteronomy:
“Then we cried to the Lord, the God of our fathers, & the Lord heard our voice & saw our affliction, our toil, & our oppression. And the Lord brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand & an outstretched arm, with great deeds of terror, with signs & wonders. And He brought us into this place & gave us this land, a land flowing with milk & honey.” (26:7-9 ESV)
That is a picture of heaven to which our Savior is leading us this very moment & all the days of our lives. Amen.
Your gracious will on earth be done as it is done before Your throne, that patiently we may obey throughout our lives all that You say. Curb flesh & blood & every ill that sets itself against Your will. Our Father, who from heaven above bids all of us to live in love as members of one family & pray to You in unity, teach us no thoughtless words to say but from our inmost hearts to pray. Amen. LSB 766:4, 1.
 Matthew 22:11-13 ESV
Pastor Dean R. Poellet