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Summary: A story from Aesop's fables, reminding us that "Satan" will say what ever is necessary to get us to do his bidding and disobey our Lord. "all have sinned"... overcome temptation by "listening to the voice of the Holy Spirit", know the word of God.

In Jesus Holy Name Lent I February 21, 2021

Text: Mark 1:12-13 Redeemer

“What Forty Days Can Teach Us”

About 2,500 years ago, a fellow by the name of Aesop told a tale. This fable of Aesop begins with a sad, sorrowful female eagle sitting on the branch of a tree. Next to her sat a kite, a carrion-eating raptor. Noting the eagle’s dejection, the kite asked, “Why does the most majestic of birds wear such a mournful look?”

The eagle sadly replied. “I need a mate and I have been unable to find one.” After a moment, the kite sympathetically suggested, “Why not marry me?” The eagle turned and asked, “And could you take care of me?” This was in the days before female eagles were liberated. Wounded by the question, the kite boasted: “Why, I have often carried away ostriches in these talons.”

With no other offers forthcoming, the eagle agreed to be married to the kite. Soon after the ceremony, she said to her husband, “I wonder if you would bring back an ostrich for supper. I’ve never eaten an ostrich and I think one would be wonderfully delicious for our evening meal.” In a second the kite was gone. In two seconds he was back and placed before her not an ostrich, but a mouse. A pitiful, pathetic and from the smell of things… a long dead mouse. Insulted, the eagle cried: “And is this how you fulfill your promise?” to which the kite confessed

“I said what was necessary to get you to do as I wished.”

This is a story about us describing the all successful temptation techniques used by Satan since the beginning of time. Our old evil foe has shown his readiness, his eagerness to say anything, everything necessary to get us to do what He wants.

(illustration from Rev. Ken Klaus 2009)

Satan’s greatest triumph may be in causing people not to take him seriously. If people don’t believe you exist, if they believe you are just a cartoon character with red horns and a tail… they won’t try to stop you. And if a person no longer has a conscience….then selfish greed will be the mode of operation, Satan’s work is done. Most of our failure when temptations come our way… and they will….can

be traced to a foolish self-confidence that overestimates our own abilities and underestimates the power of our spiritual enemies.

Satan does not observe the traditional rules of warfare. He uses anything and everything that he can to bring us down. This is what Paul meant when he spoke about the “schemes of the devil” in Ephesians 6:11. The word “schemes” might also be translated as “traps” or “tricks” or “tactics.” I am reminded of a Texas politician who was asked why a certain candidate had lost an election. The answer: “It happened because he forgot the first rule of knife fighting. There are no rules.”

Satan doesn’t fight fair. He’s not going to give you an even break. He is a liar, a deceiver, a diabolical “angel of light” who comes to you in a thousand guises, tempting you to disobey the Lord. And He’s a lot smarter than you are. He knows your weak points better than you do. And he can attack you any time of the day or night. Satan does not fight fair.

In the Garden of Eden He slides up to Adam and Eve and slyly, sneakily suggested that they should just take a look at the forbidden fruit…”What can it hurt?” He asked. Implying that God was holding out on them. Like the kite, Satan will say whatever is necessary to get you to do as He wishes.

I need not tell you what happened. They ate, and since that day all of us have been eating the forbidden fruit of temptation. If you read through the Bible, you will come across stories of men and women who are called heroes of faith. Noah built an ark, without the knowledge of rain. Moses parted the Red Sea; Elijah raised a boy from the dead, and David brought down a giant with a slingshot.

These folks, these heroes, also did some pretty stupid, amazingly sinful stuff. Noah did build and ark, but he also got himself seriously tipsy. Abraham was the father of nations, but his lying got him into trouble. His messing around with a servant girl still has serious consequences. Moses was a legendary leader, but he began as a murderer and he did deliberately disobey God. David was the great warrior-king, but he was also David the murdering adulterer. Elijah did miracles and called fire from heaven, but he also hid out in caves and complained about how he was all alone.

Zacharias, the father of John the Baptizer, was an experienced temple priest, but he couldn’t find it in his heart to believe God, even when the Lord sent an angel with a special message. He doubted. Peter was a great apostle, but almost every action of faith he performed was counter balanced by doubt or denial. He walked on water, but sank; he confessed Jesus as the Son of God, and then tried talk the Savior from going to Jerusalem. One night he fell asleep when he was asked to pray. Then a few hours later he cursed that he did not know Jesus. Like the kite, Satan will say whatever is necessary to get you to do as He wishes and save your own skin.

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