Kruiz edited
Worse Than the Devil?
Friday after Ash Wednesday
8 March 2019
Even the devil has a knowledge that Jesus of Nazareth is God of God. His minions cry out, "I know who you are- the Holy One of God" (Mk 1:24). At the temptation in the wilderness our enemy began with a miserable misstatement of the truth, saying, "If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread" (Lk 4:3). He tempts with adamic overtones (Gn 3:1) the One who shows Himself in the humble form of man born of woman, a man born under law. The old lies never die. They are just recycled. Despite their ancient and familiar tones, they remain attacks on the divinity of the promised Seed and His promise to redeem His people through His shed blood. Our enemy is always attacking the faithfulness of the promises of God to us.
Our enemy knows better than we do whom it is that is born of Mary. But knowing isn't everything. For what He knows will never benefit him because he despises the One who works, the work that He does, and the ones for whom it is worked. At the wilderness temptation, our enemy attacked just that contention that this One is God's Son, who came to offer Himself unto death under the signs of humility and weakness. He is attacking the stronghold of our confession that Christ is God eternal, incarnate of Mary. But to attack it he must acknowledge what he is attacking. Even the devil knows that Jesus is true God.
How ironic then, that there are those who deny the divinity of the Son and who call themselves Christian, even Christian theologians. Their unbelief is capping a couple of centuries of Western skepticism, which arose in the very universities founded by the church. Such persons can say pious things about Jesus the man but will inevitably scoff at the confession that He is the Christ the Son of the living God (Mt 16:16). Such persons are actually more deluded even than the deluder himself, who knows very well who Jesus is. And while he may say only "If you are the Son of God...," these cultured despisers of God will say flatly, "He is not God." They have become greater liars than the liar from the beginning.

Rev. Dr. Scott R. Murray
Memorial Lutheran Church

   John Cassian
"As for the devil, when he was tempting Jesus with every show of allurements and his wicked art, what in his ignorance did he suspect, or want to find out by tempting Him? What so greatly moved him, that he sought God under the humble form of man? Had he learned by previous proofs? Had he known anyone who came as God in man's body? Most certainly not. But it was by the mighty evidence of signs, by mighty results of actions, by the words of the Truth Himself that he was driven to suspect and search into this matter. Already he had heard from John: 'Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world' (Jn 1:29). And again, John said: 'I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?' (Mt 3:14). The dove also which came down from heaven and stopped over the Lord's head had made itself a clear and open proof of a God who declared Himself. The voice too which was sent from God not in riddles or figures of speech had moved him, when it said: 'You are my beloved Son, in you I am well pleased' (Mt 3:17). And although the devil saw a man outwardly in Jesus, yet he was searching for the Son of God, when he said: 'If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread' (Lk 4:3). Did the contemplation of the man drive away the devil's suspicion that He was divine, so that owing to the fact that he saw a man, he did not believe that He could be God? Most certainly not. But what does he say? 'If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread.' (Lk 4:3). Certainly, he had no doubt about the possibility of that, the existence of which he was delving into. His anxiety was about its truth. There was no security as to its impossibility for the devil.
"But he certainly knew that the Lord Jesus Christ was born of Mary. He knew that He was wrapped in swaddling clothes and laid in a manger, that His childhood was that of a poor person at the commencement of His human life, and His infancy was without the proper accessories of the cradle. He did not doubt that He had true flesh and was born a true man. Yet why did this seem to the devil not enough for him to be secure in? Did he believe that He could not be God, whom he knew to be truly man? Learn then, you wretched fury, learn, you insane person, you crass rebel, learn, even from the devil, to lessen your blasphemy. He said: 'If you are the Son of God.' You say: 'You are not the Son of God.' You deny what he asked about. No one has ever yet been able to outdo the devil's blasphemy but you. That which he confessed to be possible in the case of the Lord, you do not believe to have been possible."

 John Cassian,
Seven Books on the Incarnation, 7.11-12
Matthew 4:1-11

Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And after fasting forty days and forty nights, 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 comes from the mouth of God.'" Then the devil took him to the holy city and set him on the pinnacle of the temple and said to him, "If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down, for it is written, 'He will command his angels concerning you,' and 'On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.'" Jesus said to him, "Again it is written, 'You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.'" Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. And he said to him, "All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me." Then Jesus said to him, "Be gone, Satan! For it is written, 'You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.'" Then the devil left him, and behold, angels came and were ministering to him. (ESV)
Lord Jesus, St. Peter proclaimed you God's Christ when called to confess You before men. Grant that we might likewise in our day confess You as God of God. Free us from the corrosive skepticism of our retrograde age. Grant us the joy of confessing You to be who You are. Amen.
For Royce Mosby, that the Lord would grant him health and complete healing
For those struggling with addiction to alcohol or drugs, that they would have the peace that surpasses human understanding
For Rev. Dr. Matt Heise, and the work of the Lutheran Heritage Foundation all over the world, that the Lord Jesus would send His Spirit
Art: GRÜNEWALD, Matthias  Isenheim Altarpiece (c. 1515)
Memorial Lutheran Church
© Scott Murray 2018
Memorial Lutheran Church, 5800 Westheimer Rd., Houston, TX 77057
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