Sunday, March 15, 2009

Sunday, March 15, 2009 Lent III Luke 11:14-28

And He was casting out a demon–mute. And it happened, the demon having come out, the mute man spoke & the crowds marveled. But some of them said, "By the lord of the flies, the ruler of demons He casts out demons. And others were testing, a sign out of heaven they were demanding from Him. But He knew their thought; He said to them, "Every kingdom, against itself divided is devastated, and a house against a house falls. And if also Satan against himself is divided, how will his kingdom stand? For you say by the lord of the flies I cast out demons. And if I Myself, by the lord of the dung heap cast out demons, your sons, by whom do they cast them out? Through this, they will be your judges. And if, by the finger of God, I cast out demons, therefore the kingdom of God has come before you. When the armed, strong man guards his dwelling, in peace are his belongings. And whenever a stronger man than he, attacking, overpowers him, his armor he takes away upon which he relied, and his plunder he gives away. The one not being with me is against me, and the one not gathering with me, scatters. Whenever the unclean spirit goes out from the man, it goes through waterless places seeking rest; and not finding, it says, "I will return into my house from where I came out." And having come, it finds it swept clean and orderly. Then it comes and takes along 7 other spirits, more evil than itself, and entering, they dwell there, and the end of that man becomes worse than at first.

Most people don't believe in ghosts. Even Caspar the friendly ghost is a fiction. But spirits do exist. The Holy Ghost Himself is evidence of this. When we count angels, fallen angels who have now become demons, there are a many spirits, both good and evil, whether we believe it or not. But what would you say if you heard that your pastor was casting out demons? "Get your head examined!"

Well, that's just how many felt when Jesus began to cast out evil spirits back in His day.This just seemed all to weird, very odd indeed that anyone would dare to become involved with demons and the spirit world. It was just as creepy back then as it is today. And, though the people believed there were ghosts or spirits, they still found it strange stuff. He own family thought he was out of His mind. The Jewish leaders came down from Jerusalem accusing Him of being possessed by Satan Himself.

So Jesus uses some parables to put things back into perspective. It made no sense at all that Jesus was in league with the devil, since Satan wouldn't be against his own demons. But there was a battle going on all right, a spiritual war between the Archangel Michael and his angels against Satan and his demons. The battle had been going on for a long time now, but was about to finally come to an end. Jesus the ruler of angels would soon move on from demons to take on the devil himself!

Jesus had already battled Satan and won decisively in the desert by not giving in to any of the devil's temptations for 40 days and nights without food or drink. That lord-of-the-dung-heap should have known he would only succeed at attracting flies. But Satan pressed on, seeing God made vulnerable in the guise of a human carpenter from Nazareth. The devil would not rest until he could take the life of God come down in the flesh. And so their final show-down culminated at the cross of Calvary.

That's where the devil, that supposed *strong man* who thinks he's well-armed for battle, found himself out-matched. Jesus, the stronger man comes along, disarms him of all his accusations against you, and takes all he had as plunder to be given away. But Jesus surely didn't look like the stronger man while he suffered and allowed Himself to be nailed to the cross. But appearances can be deceiving. For Satan was duped that Good Friday, falling directly into God's trap.

For God's strength is made perfect in human weakness. What seems weakest of all, death, is strong in Christ Jesus. By Jesus death, your death is swallowed up forever in His cruciform victory over death. By Jesus death for you at the cross, He destroys death eternally. That's why we preach Christ crucified, even though it seems like foolishness to those who don't have faith in Jesus their Savior. In His death on the cross, Satan is finally crushed, and Jesus is raised on the third day to prove life's victory!

So don't fear ghosts who seek waterless places to dwell. You are well-watered in your baptism, sinful you washed clean to the cross, crucified, dead and buried there with Christ forever, and new-you raised up in Him forevermore. For yours is not the lord of a dung-heap, but the Lord who gives His body and blood at the cross, and gives the same to you to eat and drink at His supper table. Yours is the Strong man, God Almighty manifest in the flesh, Who proclaims you forgiven, never to be accused by Satan again!

Today's Hymns from LSB:
#439 Oh Dearest Jesus,What Law hast Thou Broken? words tune
#659 Lord of Our Life and God of Our Salvation words tune
#594 God's Own Child I'll Gladly Say It

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