Jesus contends with Satan in the wilderness today and wins. That should really be the headline of the First Sunday Lent’s Bulletin. For every generation since our first parents in the garden, we had always lost this struggle with the tempter. His power, his wiles, his craft were simply too much for us.
The problem with this is that we got used to his victory. We started to think it was normal and the way things were just going to be. We developed coping mechanisms for the consequences. I just heard the other day of a 26 billion dollar settlement between some insurance and medical companies to compensate folks who had been sucked into the death spiral of opioid addiction. If Satan had not prevailed in the Garden of Eden long ago, this would never have happened. We would have known who we were and drugs would have never enslaved anyone. No one would have pushed them for profit. No one would have ever felt they needed to self-medicate with alcohol, opioids, heroin, cocaine, or any other drugs.
And this is just to think about one scourge in our population and to think about it in one dimension. Check off the list of woes which face our world today, all of them are traceable to that moment in a garden which this tempter won the day. But one day, in a desert place, Satan took his best shot at Jesus and it failed. Finally someone has run the human race and crossed the finish line!
It may feel odd, but our preaching for the first Sunday in Lent needs to be somewhat triumphal. The hymn of the day appointed is A Mighty Fortress! Sing it with gusto because thought devils all the world should fill we tremble not and feel no ill. Christ has won this victory for us.