…tell the devil where to go, tell him he is not welcome in our lives
In the name of the father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, Amen. Please sit.
I Love Mark, now, you remember, I think it was last week, I said to you, if you do one thing this lent, please go and re-read the gospel of Mark, pick up your Bibles and read Mark. And one of the reasons I love Mark is that there’s very little mucking about in Mark. Mark is really, really direct.
And this gospel. This is the start of Jesus public ministry on Earth. Immediately before this, Jesus was baptised. In that moment, the heavens opened and had descended from heaven and God said, This is my son, that beautiful, powerful moment of the baptism of Jesus Christ. The heavens opened. There were no tea and cakes afterwards, there was no retiring to the church hall for a party for Jesus, because immediately and this word appears time and time again in Mark immediately Jesus was driven into the wilderness by the Holy Spirit. Jesus went from this great moment of baptism, this great sign that he is the son of God to being driven out into the wilderness on his own.
Lonely, hungry. Pushed to the wild beasts. But the angels looked after him. The reason we have this gospel on the first Sunday of Lent is because it talks to us of temptation. Jesus time in the wilderness, those 40 days. That is why we have 40 days of Lent mirrored, of course, also on the 40 days that the Israelites spent in the wilderness. We talked last week about lent being a time of self-examination, about depriving ourselves so that we may examine our lives.
Well, that’s what’s going on here with Jesus. This is a demonstration of Jesus humanity. We’ve just had the demonstration of his divinity in the baptism of the heavens being opened, now we have his humanity and this is the path we start to walk with him. This is where perhaps it’s it’s really easy to understand Jesus he sent out into the wilderness by the Holy Spirit, he’s compelled to go out into the wilderness and in the wilderness. He is tempted.
Now, let’s look at that. Jesus isn’t tempted when he’s feeling good and everything is wonderful. Jesus is tempted when he is hungry, when he is thirsty, when he is physically worn out, when he is separated from his friends. That is when the devil strikes with temptation, and this is exactly how the devil works in our own lives today.
This is when the devil will come and tempt you, when you, when you are tired, when you are without your friends, when you are without any support, when you feel like you are surrounded by the wild beasts of the world, the devil will appear and he will whisper in your ear. Go on. And we’ve all heard that voice, we’ve all had that moment of temptation, and it’s always a small thing, it’s never a big thing.
The temptations we receive are never the big things. They are the small things. Temptation is a packet of Jaffa cakes. You think you can eat just one? But before you know it, the entire package is gone. And that’s how the devil works through us, because he doesn’t he doesn’t put things in front of us that look bad, he doesn’t tempt us with things that are obviously evil and wrong. He tempts us with things that look good and right.
And they’re small. Now, I preach in other times of the year about how the small good things can change the world, those small acts of kindness change the world, those small acts of smiling at somebody who is in trouble, holding their hand, giving people money, those corporate works of mercy how those small things build the kingdom here on Earth while those small acts of evil destroy it. They tear down all of the good work that you have done.
That voice will say to you, when you are tired, when you are hungry, when you are on your own and when you don’t have your friends. Go on. What does it matter? No one’s looking. It’s only a small thing. And so you do it and you do that small one thing, that one wrong thing. And you get away with it, no one notices you don’t get in trouble. You feel OK, you don’t feel bad, you think?
OK, so now all of a sudden that wrong bad thing that you’ve done is no longer bad or wrong. And so you do it a few times. And the devil appears in your ear again and says to go on. Do one more thing. And you think, well, I did that, so I must be able to do this as well, and before you know it, your life has snowballed out of the out of control. You’ve been pushed away from Jesus.
You’ve been pushed away from those small acts of good. And your life is falling down a hill, gathering momentum as that evil collects around you. And this is why we come to church, this is why lent is so important, because when we come to church, when we gather here in Jesus Christ name, when we hear his scripture, when we receive his body and blood from the Blessed Sacrament. We stop that snowball. We stop the action of those tiny missteps.
We stop that voice in our ear saying, go on. And it’s powerful because the devil knows he can’t get his claws into you when you come here and you wipe away all of the temptation that he has laid before you, because your friends are the angels, the angels of God will care for you and will protect you.
Jesus Christ will come to your aid when you call for him. And that’s what we do every Sunday, my friends. That’s what we do every time we open scripture my friends. That’s what we do every time we say the Lord’s Prayer as we go to bed and as we pray as we wake. We tell the devil where to go, and if I weren’t in church, I would use more intemperate language, tell the devil where to go, tell him he is not welcome in your lives.
He is not welcome in our lives. He is not welcome here in Hayes. He can go and do one. And Hayes. Will be the kingdom of God here on Earth, and it will be because of you, because of your praise in Jesus name, because of your good works in the world, in Jesus name, because of your love for one another. In Jesus name. That, my friends, is how we start Lent. And if that’s how we start, imagine how we will finish.