We Won


Alright, I need a little bit of audience participation to get us started. I want you to remember back to February 2011 when the Packers last won the Super Bowl. After the Packers’ victory raise your hand if you heard someone exclaim, “We won!” Maybe some of you exclaimed “we won” after the packers won. But isn’t that interesting? I don’t see any Packer players in the pews this morning. So, I doubt any of us contributed any more than our moral support to the Packers victory. But still, because the Packers are our team, the victory gets applied to us. Because this team represents the state of Wisconsin, their victory is our victory. And this happens at other levels as well. I bet some of you parents have been sitting at a high school sporting event and after a Brillion victory you exclaimed, “We won!” Even though you were just sitting in the stands. We even do this when talking about our country. Back on September 13, 2003 American special forces captured Saddam Hussain. After the operation, America’s chief administrator in Iraq walked up to the podium at a press conference and said the now famous words, “Ladies and gentlemen, we got him.” I imagine back when America made it to the moon back in 1969, people would say we beat the Russians to the moon. Those astronauts’ victory is our victory. We won.

Sadly, the reverse also applies. When one of our representatives loses whether it’s a sport’s team, our military, or a politician we can say we lost. We feel the shame and the effect of the loss as well. The loss applies to us. Their loss is our loss. And so, brothers and sisters I have to tell you about a big loss that applies to you. We lost, brothers and sisters. We lost to a powerful and evil enemy named Satan. And this loss happened thousands of years ago. We heard about it in our reading for today. Our ancient foe, the devil, came to Adam and Eve, spoke his lies to them, and they rebelled against God. They lost. And brothers and sisters, because they lost, we lost. St. Paul explained that in our second lesson for today. Let me just reference one verse from that lesson, “Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned—.” What that means brothers and sisters, is Adam’s loss is our loss. We lost because Adam lost. Team humanity was defeated all the way back at the beginning by Satan. We failed to be the wonderful creation of God. We lost.


            But even if Adam’s loss didn’t apply to us, we wouldn’t be doing any better because Satan has beat each and every one of us individually as well. He has beaten us with the same tricks he used at the beginning with Adam and Eve. Why would he use anything else? They seem to work pretty well. This is how he does it: usually when Satan attacks us it starts off with creating doubt. Back in the garden, he said to Eve, “Did God really say you couldn’t eat from the tree? You won’t die. God is holding out on you.” Satan starts by getting us to doubt the goodness and love of our God. Now for us, often this happens when something isn’t going quite right in our lives. It can even be something little. Let’s say an appliance breaks down in our house. We begin to think, “Come on God, what is your deal? Why me? Why today.” And with something as little as an appliance breaking, Satan sows the seeds of doubt in our minds and gets us to question our good God who provides.


            Then this doubt can turn into some arrogant testing. We say, “Alright God, prove it. You say you love me and care for me. I’d like to see some good things happening here in my life, God.


            And when we are in that state, Satan goes in for the kill. He says, “Hmm, seems like God isn’t good. Seems like God doesn’t care for you. You should choose something else to serve. Why not try money? God can’t seem to fix all your problems. But if you just had more money, they would go away. God isn’t good, but money is. Go and dedicate your life to money. Or how about pleasure? God doesn’t care about you. He is not easing the discomfort for you. But if you choose pleasure at least you can be soothed and comforted for a little while. Or how about entertainment? There’s is an endless stream of content on Netflix. hey are coming out with new videogames every year. God will leave you and forsake you. But Netflix and video games never will.” And by this process Satan gets us to bend the knee to something other than our God. And when we submit to these things, really we are submitting to Satan.


            We lost, brothers and sisters. We lost at the very beginning when Adam was defeated for team humanity, and we have lost in our own lives when we fall for Satan’s lies and schemes. We lost.  Humanity’s score is zero wins and billions of losses. Satan stands at the undefeated world champion.


            Or rather I should say he stood as the undefeated world champion. And now I have another story to tell you. A story about the contender God picked and trained to defeat the undefeated Champ. You know his name. His name is Jesus.


            Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry.


            This account from Jesus’ life happens right after his baptism. At his baptism God marked Jesus out as the contender for all humanity when he said, “This is my son whom I love. With him I am well pleased.” So right after that, Jesus is led by God out into the wilderness to fight the devil. And can we appreciate the condition that Jesus is in? It says he had been fasting for 40 days and forty nights. Not only that, but he is in the wilderness. This is a picture of the Judean wilderness. It’s nothing but dry rocks and dirt. No one lives there because it is uninhabitable. I don’t know about you, but I find it much easier to resist temptation when I am well fed, comfortable, and surrounded by people supporting me. Well, when Jesus has to face the devil’s temptations, he is starving, in a hostile climate, and he is all alone. Things seem stacked against our champion from the start. Let’s see how he does.


            The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.” Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” So, in the first round of the fight, Satan comes at Jesus with his age-old tactic. He tries to get Jesus to doubt God’s love and providence. Jesus is starving, so Satan tells him, “Well, aren’t you the son of God? Your heavenly Father certainly isn’t providing for you, so why don’t you serve yourself? Tell these stones to become bread.” But the champion is not tricked. He tells Satan that he will trust in his Father to provide when he says, “Man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.” Round one goes to Jesus.


            So Satan tries a different tactic. Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down. For it is written: “ ‘He will command his angels concerning you, and they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’” In his second attack, Satan tried to get Jesus to test God. Satan says, “Oh, you trust God so much. Well let’s see. Why don’t you jump off of this cliff let’s see if your loving and gracious God will rescue you. Didn’t he say he would?” But the champion of humanity overcomes this temptation too. He says, “Satan, it is written, ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’ I don’t need to put God to the test, Satan. I simply take him at his word and trust that he will protect and provide.” Round two goes to Jesus.


            After being beaten back twice, Satan goes for the kill in his third attempt. Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.” This is Satan’s strongest punch; his most deadly weapon. Let’s remind ourselves what kind of life is in store for Jesus. Well Jesus is going to be a traveling teacher. Jesus once said the son of man has no place to lay his head. He lived without many of the blessings of home. For a while he will enjoy some popularity. But then the people will turn on him, and he will die the most shameful death the Romans could come up with: crucifixion. What is in store for Jesus is a life of pain, rejection, and shame. So now Satan says, “You don’t have to have any of that. You can have a life of honor, glory, and fame. You do not have to die on a cross. You can live as a king. All you have to do is bow down and worship me.” Up until this point in history every human being has fallen. The fate of humanity rests on this moment. Will God’s champion fail?  Away from me, Satan! for it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only,’” and with those words the devil is defeated. He has to leave the Son of Man and angels, come and applaud the new champion and humanity’s savior.


Brothers and sisters, Jesus won. Jesus won where all of us have failed. And his victory is your victory. The apostle Paul explained it this way in our second lesson for today, Consequently, just as one trespass resulted in condemnation for all people, so also one righteous act resulted in justification and life for all people. Brothers and sisters, we won. We won because our champion won. He defeated the devil for us. We are not the defeated. We are now the victorious. We won. Brothers and sisters, today is the first Sunday in the season of Lent. And the reason we ponder this story at the beginning of Lent is because during Lent, Jesus fights the devil again. And it is going to seem dire. Jesus is going to look like he is defeated. It is going to look like Satan has won when the son of God is put to death. But spoiler alert. Just like in this account, during Lent Jesus is going to win. So, let’s revel in that victory for just a second. Repeat after me, “Get away from me Satan.” (repeat) “Jesus won” (repeat). “You lost” (repeat). Amen.