Lent 1

Preached: March 9, 2014

My Lord Reigns over the Enemies
Psalm 110:1

Other listening options or try the podcast at iTunes (You will be leaving our website.)

Grace and peace to you from God our Father and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen. The word of God through which the Holy Spirit testifies about Jesus is Psalm 110.

Of David. A psalm.

The Lord says to my Lord: “Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet.” (Psalm 110:1 NIV84).

This is the word of our Lord.

Dear friends in Christ, fellow saints washed clean in the blood of our risen Savior:

Everything was quiet when she arrived to babysit. The parents were ready to leave. The nine-month was napping in his crib. She sat and watched TV. After about an hour the baby began waking up, so she peeked in. When he saw her, his playful baby giggles stopped. His face frowned and crinkled up. He began crying with those sobs that say, “You’re not my mommy. Where’s my mommy. I want MY mommy.” Not just any mommy would do but only MY mommy. What a difference that word “my” makes!

So also when it comes to Jesus. He certainly is the Lord over all, reigning over even his enemies. Everything is under his feet. In the Gospel today you saw him trample Satan, defeating his temptations. Jesus is Lord. But what comfort, peace, and joy that you, dear Christian, can say, “Jesus is MY Lord!” Yes, find strength, courage, and hope as your faith confesses: “My Lord reigns over the enemies.” That’s the theme today. His power is hidden. But his purpose is certain. Those are the two parts.

A. His power is hidden

My Lord reigns, but I don’t always see that. His power is hidden. Now should that surprise us? How powerful did Jesus look during his time on earth? If we could’ve seen him in the desert facing Satan’s temptations, he would not have looked powerful. He looked weak and hungry and needed angels to attend his needs afterwards. He defeated Satan’s temptations not with a display of power but with the word of God. Hidden power. And later his crushing of Satan’s head came through the lowest shame of the cross. Again hidden power.

On the Tuesday before his death, Jesus tried to lead the Pharisees to see that there was more to the Christ than meets the eye. He asked them, “What do you think about the Christ? Whose son is he?” (Matthew 22:42 NIV84). They correctly answered that the Christ is the son of David. He would come from David’s family line. Then Jesus refers to this Psalm. He says, “How is it then that David, speaking by the Spirit calls him ‘Lord’? For he says, ‘The Lord said to my Lord: “Sit at my right hand until I put your enemies under your feet”’ If then David calls him ‘Lord,’ how can he be his son?” (Matthew 22:43-45 NIV84).

How could he be both? For you see, David was the king whom the Lord God himself had placed on the throne. No other human would be above David, certainly not a descendant born after him. Yet great David calls the Messiah, his Lord. For just as surely as the Christ is a human being born from David’s family line, so also he is David’s Lord, for the Christ is true God. He’s God hidden in flesh.

No mere creature, not even a glorious angel, could be seated at God’s right hand in equal majesty. For the First Commandment declares, “You shall have no other gods beside me.” Yet, the Christ is seated at the right hand beside the Lord God. For Christ is both God and man. A well-known Christmas hymn express it this way: “Veiled in flesh the Godhead see, Hail th’ incarnate Deity” (Christian Worship: A Lutheran Hymnal 61:2) What hidden power!

Now we might imagine that if Christ reigns over all with the power of God’s right hand, we should certainly see that. Maybe he had to hide it to do his work of dying for us, but shouldn’t we see his ruling power now? But notice what the Lord says, “Sit at my right hand UNTIL I make your enemies a footstool for your feet.” (Psalm 110:1 NIV84). Jesus has the power. He is at God’s right hand. But his enemies continue to plot and subvert. The word “until” says that they will continue their evil work for a time. In 1 Corinthians 15, the Apostle Paul makes it clear that that time will continue until Jesus returns in glory on the Last Day when even death is destroyed. Until then, his power remains hidden.

Dear friends, when your flesh cries out hungering for relief, wondering why Jesus doesn’t ease your burdens in life, remember that his power is hidden, hidden under the suffering of his people. When Satan whispers his doubts questioning whether Jesus really is your Lord who cares for you since there’s so much we struggle through, remember that your Lord hides his power. His strength is made perfect in weakness. When the world parades its splendor and invites you to pursue its happiness, answer it, “You, World, are not my Lord. Jesus is. And he is more powerful than anything you can throw at me. Yes, he hid his power and died. But he did that to redeem me to be his very own. He is MY Lord. He still hides his power until his return, so that I live by faith trusting him. He is Lord over all, whether I see evidence of that or not. He is my Lord. Take that, World”

Dear Christian, as you speak those words confessing that Jesus is your Lord, know and believe not only that his power is hidden but also that his purpose is certain.

B. His purpose is certain

The Lord God said to Jesus, “Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a FOOTSTOOL for your feet” (Psalm 110:1 NIV84). Having your enemies under your feet, trampling them in the dust, is certainly a picture we get. Complete victory. But if you think of it, a footstool is also something that serves a purpose to benefit the person sitting down. You see, dear Christians, as our Lord, Jesus not only defeats our enemies but also makes them serve his good purpose, like a footstool. And there’s nothing doubtful about whether he will succeed in this. For he’s at God’s right hand. All power is his. And the Lord God himself will see to it that his enemies serve as his footstool. He purpose is sure and certain. It will not fail.

This a partial answer to that age old question of why doesn’t God end wickedness now. Why doesn’t he? Because he is making it serve his good purpose. Of course, our sinful minds aren’t satisfied with that. They keep pestering with questions: “Isn’t there some other way he could do it? Couldn’t he both achieve his purpose and end evil right now?” The sinfulness in those questions is not the desire for the end of evil but rather imagining that he needs to explain himself to us. Our rebellious old self kicks against God’s way of doing things. It doesn’t want to submit to the Lord’s way. It wants to be the lord deciding what’s best for ourselves.

Beat down your rebellious old self, dear Christian. We are only clay jars. Who are we to speak back to the potter who shapes us? Rather, marvel that the potter took on our flesh and blood. He became dust and clay, like you and me. And he was shattered for our sins. His strength dried up as a potsherd in our place. Since your Lord has loved you so much, don’t you think he has your best interest at heart no matter how difficult your life becomes?

Our reason and logic cannot explain God’s ways in achieving his purpose. Rather we confess with Saint Paul, “Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out! Who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been his counselor? Who has ever given to God, that God should repay him? For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be the glory forever! Amen.” (Romans 11:33-36 NIV84).

But even though we cannot comprehend God’s ways or trace out how he achieves his goal, we know and believe that his purpose is good and he will achieve it no matter what. His enemies will serve as his footstool. His purpose is certain.

Why do we believe it, even though we cannot explain it? Because we have his promise. Recall Romans 8:28, “We know that in all things [this would include even the plots of his enemies] God works for the good of those who love him” (Romans 8:28 NIV84). Picture his enemies as his footstool. Not only are they under his feet in defeat, but they are also serving his good purpose. Consider how the devil tempted Jesus in the desert. The devil’s purpose was to defeat our Savior. Jesus’ purpose was to triumph over Satan for us, freely crediting you and me with his perfect obedience that never succumbed to temptation canceling our fallings and failings. Three years later, the ancient Serpent struck Jesus’ heal intent on destroying him, but Jesus crushed his head, reconciling us sinners to God by his death. What a purpose! What a sure, certain, unfailing purpose! Believe it!

Yes, you, dear friend, have your Lord’s promise. So with David of old confess, “My Lord reigns over the enemies.” David could have boasted about much. He was the Lord’s anointed king. He was the ancestor of the coming Messiah. But here he wants nothing more than to confess that he is the humble servant and the Messiah is his Lord. Let your words and actions confess the same. Jesus is YOUR Lord. No other lord will do. Just as an infant wants his own mother, we want our Lord alone. His power is hidden, but his purpose is certain. Live in that peace and joy that proclaims: “My Lord reigns over the enemies.” Amen.

The peace of God that surpasses all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.

Pastor Gregg Bitter

St. John's Evangelical Lutheran Church
859 5th Street
Hancock, MN 56244
(320) 392-5313