Invocavit: The First Sunday in Lent
The Scriptures Appointed for Today
The Introit: Psalm 91:1-2, 9-10, 13
The Psalter: Psalm 32
Old Testament Lesson: Genesis 3:1–21
The Gradual: Psalm 91:11–12
Epistle Lesson: 2 Corinthians 6:1–10
The Verse: Psalm 91:1, 4, 15–16
The Gospel: Matthew 4:1–11
Jesus Does Battle in Our Place
In the Garden, man exalts himself to be a god in place of God (Gen. 3:1–21). He succumbs to the temptation of the devil, and eating of the forbidden fruit, he receives death. But in the sin-cursed wilderness, God humbles Himself to become man in place of man (Mt. 4:1–11). He does not eat but fasts and bears the onslaughts of the devil for us that we may be restored to life. Jesus stands as David in our place to do battle against the Goliath, Satan (1 Samuel 17:40–51). Though outwardly Jesus appears weak, yet He comes in the name of the Lord of hosts. He draws from the five smooth stones of the books of Moses and slings the Word of God. The stone sinks into the forehead, and the enemy falls. In Christ we are victorious over the devil. Let us therefore not receive the grace of God in vain (2 Cor. 6:1–10), but seeing that we have a great High Priest, let us come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain help in time of need (Heb 4:14–16).
O Lord God, You led Your ancient people through the wilderness and brought them to the promised land. Guide the people of Your Church that, following our Savior, we may walk through the wilderness of this world toward the glory of the world to come; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
From a Sermon for Invocavit by C.F.W. Walther
This battle [between Jesus and Satan] was the first engagement touched off by the Lord of our salvation, in order to tread down Satan under our feet. It was the first defeat of the infernal host to show them that now a Stronger one had come. Scarcely had Christ begun His ministry when immediately He attacked Satan. He did not leave the field until He had won the last engagement for us on the cross and could cry out, “It is finished!” The resurrection immediately following upon it was the victory shout of the world’s Mediator, the great Te Deum Laudamus, “We praise You, O Lord.” The descent into hell and ascension into heaven were the victor’s glorious triumphant procession. Yet all this could not have followed had not Christ won His first battle in the wilderness. This also was therefore a necessary part of the work of our redemption.
If you want to be eternally blessed by the battle of your Savior, your heavenly General, nothing more is demanded of you and all men than that you play the part of a believing spectator. The important thing is not that you learn how to fight against sin and Satan from Christ’s example, but the first, the most important, the main thing is that you learn to believe that Christ battled for you, in your place, for your freedom and salvation. Whoever knows and feels his sins, whoever knows that hitherto he has served the devil, that he was full of unbelief, contempt of God’s Word, pride, vanity, lust, and love of the world, or that he at least has not really battled against the world, flesh, and Satan, let him merely look to his Savior; this champion from the stem of David has held the field for us; this Lion from the tribe of Judah has conquered for us. Though you may have fallen ever so deeply, though you may have even begged the devil’s pardon, free yourself from this disgraceful tyranny. Side with Christ; then you are victor over sin and hell; then Christ also divides the spoils of war with you, forgiveness of sins, righteousness, life, and salvation.