Lent 1 B 2021
Grace to you and peace, from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.
There is a commercial on TV that I think most of you have seen while watching your favorite TV program. The commercial is from Capitol One, and the commercial asks an especially important question. The question is “What’s in your wallet?”
The commercial wants you to think about what you have at your disposal and why what Capitol One has to offer will make your life so much better.
I think the commercial is brilliant, because what Capitol One is trying to sell is presented as a question. And besides being very clever, I think the question the commercial asks is a good philosophical question.
The question being asked is this… “What is it that you carry with you each and every day that identifies who you are?’ and “What do you have on you right now that you can count on and depend upon when you need it the most?”
Think about it… What’s in your wallet? That is a good question.
I remember receiving my first wallet when I was a young child. It made me feel so grown up. There was not much in it, but it was mine. My wallet carried my student id card, a wallet sized photo of myself, my SIN card (that’s Canadian for Social Insurance Number – similar to Social Security Number) a hockey or baseball card of my favorite player, and if I was fortunate it held a dollar or two.
Later my wallet contained my Driver’s License, my health Insurance Card, a library card and an “In an emergency please contact” card, my University Student ID card, and one debit card. All in all, it was a pretty flat fold. But it did give a good picture of who I was at that moment.
Today, I look at my wallet and (believe it or not) it’s a bit fatter. No, it is not because I have more money in it, but because there is more that I need to carry. I still have a Driver’s License, several credit cards (not Capitol One by the way), a health insurance card, a picture of Phyllis and whatever else I can jam into it. I even have a card that identifies me as a Pastor of the ELCA, but it’s almost out of date.
Let me ask you this… “Is that who I am, what I have in my wallet? Is that who you are, what you carry with you each day?” These days it might not even be in your wallet. It might be on your smart phone. Yes, phones are getting pretty smart these days. But is that who you really are? And do the things in your wallet or on your smart phone define and direct your life?
I hope you can answer “No, the things in my wallet, or my purse, or my smart phone do not define who I am!”
As we turn to our Gospel text this morning, we notice that the story begins today with the Baptism of Jesus. The text states “In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the River Jordan.”
“And just as He was coming up out of the water, He saw the heavens torn apart and the spirit descending like a dove on Him. And a voice came from heaven, “You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.”
In our text today, Mark starts out by telling us about Christ’s baptism; not as a way of washing away His sins (Jesus had no sins), but as a way of establishing His identity.
And it was from His identity as God’s Beloved Son, that Christ’s entire life and ministry would unfold.
As we journey through the Book of Mark this year, we too will learn that our “true identity” is not defined by what we do or even what we carry in our wallets, but by Jesus and His Cross. And that our value is not defined by how much credit we have on our credit card, but by our value and worth we have in the sight of God.
And so, it should come as no surprise to hear then, that the devil (Satan – the Evil One) becomes our number one enemy the minute we are baptized. And the devil attacks us and tries to trip us up by asking very important questions.
You know the questions… Questions such as “Am I really a child of God? Does God really love me? Does God really care about me? Does God… and you fill in the plank.”
But thankfully, Jesus was tempted just as we are tempted. Our text today states “And the Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness. He was in the wilderness forty days, tempted by Satan; and he was with the wild beasts; and the angels waited on Him.”
Jesus was tempted when Satan asked Jesus important trick questions, but Jesus did not give into temptation. Instead, Jesus endured the temptations so He could begin His proclamation of the Good News of God’s Redeeming Activity in our world.
And that is the message that our text is shouting out to us this morning. The message today is that we are not alone. When we are tempted by the devil, Satan, the evil one; when we are out in the wilderness with the wild beasts, when we are carrying a heavy load that seems too great to handle Jesus is with us.
You are not alone. You do not have to carry the weight of this world by yourself. No matter where you go, Jesus is with you. No matter what you do, His spirit is there to give you guidance and strength.
And not only that, but you belong to Him. You are His child. He is your father. And that is the identity that you will carry with you your whole life long.
So, “What’s in your wallet?” I have a suggestion. Go home today and find a copy of your Baptismal certificate. And if you can find it, go and reduce it to card size using a photocopier. You can stop by the church and we will help you at the office.
And then laminate your new baptismal certificate and place it in your wallet. And then carry it with you throughout the Lenten Season. Not only will the card serve as a reminder of who you are, but it will also serve as a reminder of the promises that God made to you when you were baptized.
And so, this morning I ask you “What’s in your wallet?”
Let us pray… Almighty God, your Son fasted forty days in the wilderness, and was tempted as we are but did not sin. Give us grace to direct our lives in obedience to your Spirit, that as you know our weakness, so may we know your power to save; in the Name of Jesus Christ our Lord we pray. Amen.