Lead Us Not Into Temptation: An Opportune Time

S.D.G.

Maundy Thursday: 4/18/19

Lord’s Prayer 6th Petition & Lord’s Supper

Lead Us Not Into Temptation: An Opportune Time

Bible Readings:

Jeremiah 31:31-34

Luke 4:12-13 & Luke 22:1-23

In the Name of Jesus Christ, the Suffering Servant of God; Dear Precious People of God:

Lead us not into temptation. The Gospel reading for this evening begins with the end of Jesus’ temptation by Satan in the Wilderness. It’s fitting that we begin the season of Lent with the Temptation of Jesus and close out the season of Lent with it as well because when Jesus overcame Satan’s temptations in the wilderness, that wasn’t the end of Satan’s temptations against Him.

Luke 4:13 And when the devil had ended every temptation, he departed from him until an opportune time.

This doesn’t mean that Satan simply rolled over and played dead with Jesus. He didn’t. He continued to tempt Jesus throughout His life and ministry. Jesus said so as He and his disciples celebrated the Passover: Luke 22:28 “You are those who have stayed with me in my trials

If Satan continued to tempt even the Son of God, you can bet that he continues to tempt us as well. He has never given up and he will never give up until the Day when Jesus returns.

Satan departed from Jesus until an opportune time. And the time Satan waited for was when Jesus was at His weakest. He needed to keep Jesus from going to the cross. He needed to keep Jesus from suffering, bleeding, being whipped and nailed. He needed to keep Jesus from wearing that crown of thorns. The opportune time he waited for was the night Jesus would celebrate the Passover with His disciples for the very last time.

Luke 22:1 Now the Feast of Unleavened Bread drew near, which is called the Passover. 2 And the chief priests and the scribes were seeking how to put him to death, for they feared the people.

3 Then Satan entered into Judas called Iscariot, who was of the number of the twelve. 4 He went away and conferred with the chief priests and officers how he might betray him to them. 5 And they were glad, and agreed to give him money. 6 So he consented and sought an opportunity to betray him to them in the absence of a crowd.

We want to blame Judas. He gave into the temptation of greed and financial gain by betraying his trust, friendship, and loyalty to Jesus. Temptation itself is not a sin. It’s when we give into it and consent that faith is compromised. Luther explains this in the Large Catechism concerning this petition: Lead us not into temptation:

[106] This, then, is what “leading us not into temptation” means: when God gives us power and strength to resist, even though the attack is not removed or ended. For no one can escape temptations and allurements as long as we live in the flesh and have the devil prowling around us. We cannot help but suffer attacks, and even be mired in them, but we pray here that we may not fall into them and be drowned by them.

[107] To experience attack, therefore, is quite a different thing from consenting to it or saying “Yes” to it.

Judas was tempted and he said ‘Yes’ to it. He gave into that temptation.

Jesus experienced temptation on the Mount of Olives. He prayed to the Father: Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from Me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done (Luke 22:42). This was Satan’s opportune time. This is what the devil was waiting for. He used Judas to carry out his plan. He committed sin and in doing so he betrayed Jesus and handed him over to the guards and officials. They led Jesus away that night and Jesus was found guilty of blasphemy in their kangaroo court. From there they led Jesus to Pontius Pilate to be beaten, whipped, flogged and nailed to the cross. But Jesus said, “NO.” He did not give into temptation.

We might be quick to judge Judas; to vilify him as if we have never given into temptation ourselves. Peter thought he could hold out, but he denied ever associating with Jesus—not once, but three times! And this was when Jesus needed him the most.

Right after the Lord’s Supper the disciples’ sin of pride got in their way. They argued with one another about who is the most important in Jesus’ inner circle—right after receiving the Lord’s Supper!

It’s interesting and very important to notice that NONE of the Gospel writers vilify Judas. They remember what Jesus said John 8:7 “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.” And later Paul would write: 1Corinthians 10:12 Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall.

Who is this Judas? Who is the betrayer? Faced with this question, are we capable of more than asking with the disciples: “ Surely not I, Lord?” Before we condemn Judas too quickly, we need to take a look at our own lives. What temptations have you given into? What sins have you committed and are still committing. We are all guilty of breaking the covenant with God. We are all guilty and therefore none of us has a right to pass judgment on other people when they fail and fall. Satan is ALWAYS looking for an opportune time in your life to have you slip and fall from grace and faith. This is why Jesus told us to pray: Lead us NOT into temptation. Luther teaches us this in the Large Catechism:

[104] Then comes the devil, who baits and badgers us on all sides, but especially exerts himself where the conscience and spiritual matters are concerned. His purpose is to make us scorn and despise both the Word and the works of God, to tear us away from faith, hope, and love, to draw us into unbelief, false security, and stubbornness, or, on the contrary, to drive us into despair, denial of God, blasphemy, and countless other abominable sins. These are snares and nets; indeed, they are the real “flaming darts” that are venomously shot into our hearts, not by flesh and blood but by the devil.

Satan is ALWAYS looking for an opportune time in your life and mine. And there’s no shortage of them. That’s for sure.

But God also made a promise to you. We heard it again this evening in the Old Testament reading in Jeremiah:

Jer. 31:31 “Behold, the days are coming, declares the LORD, when I will make a new covenant … 32 not like the covenant that I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, my covenant that they broke, …33 For this is the covenant … I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 34 …I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.”

The Hebrew meaning for ‘remember’ in this verse means “to hold against them.” What God promises to you is that He will NOT hold your sins against you or hold you accountable for them. Why? Because He held your sins against Jesus. He became accountable for your sins. And that’s called grace and mercy. Satan tried to tempt Jesus from going to the cross. Remove this cup from Me if it be Your will. It wasn’t the Father’s will to do so because the Father’s will is to save you from your sins—the sins we commit as we give into temptations. The Father kept pressing and squeezing Jesus on the cross with His wrath. Jesus was drinking the Cup of God’s wrath filled with your sins and mine, and the sins of the whole world. And as He was squeezing Jesus with His wrath, Jesus was bleeding out the Cup of Blessing for you and for me. Jesus was bleeding out the New Covenant God made with you: I will forgive their iniquity and remember their sin no more.

This is what Jesus gave His disciples on the night He was betrayed. This is what Jesus gives us in His Holy Supper. It’s not a cup of God’s wrath, but rather it is The cup of blessing and the New Covenant. This was Jesus’ opportune time to trump Satan and his schemes to tear you away from God’s grace.

Luke 22:17 And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he said, “Take this, and divide it among yourselves. … 19 And he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” 20 And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.

You see, the 6th Petition and Maundy Thursday go hand in hand. We most certainly will give into temptations. But rest assured dear Christian friends, that God’s grace and mercy to you far outstrips our sins against Him. Once again this evening is an opportune time for us to repent and receive God’s grace to you:

…33 For this is the covenant … I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 34 …I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.”

“This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” 20 And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.

Lead us not into temptation.

To Jesus be the glory.

Amen.

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