Jeremiah 11:18-19 Because the Lord revealed their plot to me, I knew it, for at that time he showed me what they were doing.19I had been like a gentle lamb led to the slaughter; I did not realize that they had plotted against me, saying, "Let us destroy the tree and its fruit; let us cut him off from the land of the living, that his name be remembered no more."
There is a woodcut from the middleages, a picture of a man reaching and running to get the apple that is before him, the apple is on a stick, there is a devil on the man’s back who is holding the stick, as much as you run, as hard as you reach, the apple of his eye remains just beyond his reach, if he could only see this, perhaps he wouldn’t let the devil ride him so.
Sometimes when our life seems a burden, and things do not go according to plan, its not so much the cross that we have to bear, as it is the devil on our back. There is a cross that we have to bear, which has to do with faith, following our savior, and the opposition that we will encounter from the world, the flesh and the devil. But in that list of the great gifts of God, along with forgiveness, salvation, and eternal life, is the power God gives us through his word, to see the devil, to send him away, and to keep him off our back. One of the reasons we memorize the scriptures, is that we might have that word of God in our heart, or our lips, that can send the devil packing, that gives us the victory over temptation, that gives us peace, and shows us that our life is worthwhile.
The problem is that the devil is rarely obvious, and so sometimes we don’t see him for what he is. If we were to look at the devil as a bloodsucker, well, if we ever saw a vampire, we’d know its the devil, and we’d know how to kill it. But when we see a tick or a mosquito, rather than see the devil, we see a fact of life, something we’ve got to learn to live with. We stay away from those places where they’re liable to be thickest, but know that we will still be bitten.
And that’s how the devil works, more like a mosquito, than a vampire, he wants to suck all the life out of you, not just this life here on earth, but the eternal life that God in Christ has prepared for us in heaven, but if that takes many bites to drain us dry, if he can do this by many minor temptations. If it becomes something that we will accept as just the way things are, and fail to see that even if its only a mosquito, its still the devil on our back, trying to lead us on to destruction, holding out to us an apple that is ever beyond our reach.
How do we know these things? God has revealed them, because he doesn’t want the devil on our back, he doesn’t want to see us enslaved to sin and desires. God loved us so much that he sent his son, Jesus Christ, to suffer and die in our place, to forgive us our sins, to open for us the gates of heaven, and to give us a new and everlasting life, through the waters of holy baptism making us a new creation, and giving us in his word, the victory over sin, and the power to overcome temptation.
Part of the picture that is always before us, is the picture of Jesus, the lamb of God, a lamb being lead to the slaughter, a lamb dying in our place for our sins. We have seen Jesus face all the temptations we face, yet without sin, we see him giving up His life that we might be forgiven. And this image gives us hope, for its is God’s promise to us that we can not only see all of Satan’s temptations, but that we too can have the victory over sin, over death, and over the devil.
Its a real simple question, when you see the mosquito landing on your arm, do you let him bite, because there is nothing you can do, or do you swat him. God gives us his word to open our eyes so that we can see the mosquito, who by the little things that often we think we have to learn to live with, seeks to lead us to hell. God opens our eyes to Satan’s deceptions, and that’s not all, God heals us, makes us a new creation, forgives us our sins, and strengthens our weak limbs, in part, so that by the power of the word of God we can swat that mosquito the devil.
We give thanks to God for the salvation that is ours in the blood of Jesus, we give thanks that there is forgiveness for our sins, we give thanks for the new life that is ours in baptism. And we give thanks that God through his word has opened our eyes, so that we can see that the devil, through the little annoyances of life, is seeking to lead us to despair and unbelief, and to take away the salvation that Jesus has given. We give thanks to God, that in Christ, temptations, like mosquitoes are things that are easily squashed.