Sunday, September 29, 2013

Proper 21 1 Timothy 3:1-13

And a battle took place in heaven, the battle of Michael and his angels with the dragon. And the dragon and his angels battled, and they were not strong, nor was there a place found for them in heaven. And the great dragon was thrown down, the ancient snake, the one called "devil" and "the accuser", the one deceiving the entire habitation was thrown down onto the earth, and his angels with him. And I heard a great sound in heaven, saying, "Now happens the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of His Christ, because thrown down–the indicter of our brothers, the one indicting them before our God, day and night. And these conquered him through the blood of the Lamb and through the word of His witness, and they did not love their lives with God's love until death. Through this you rejoice, heavens and those tabernacling in them. Woe: the earth and the sea, because the devil comes down to you, having great anger, knowing that he has a little season.

"Woe to you, O earth and sea, because the devil sends his beasts with wrath, because he knows the time is short!" "Woe to the world because of it's death-traps...woe to that man through whom the death-trap comes!" Such woes effect us as they do a horse, slowing and stopping us to ponder the graveness (pun intended) of these words. Woe means deadly danger.(Will Robinson) The death Satan wants is the eternal one--hell.

But what of the battle Michael and his angels won? By this defeat, the devil was cast from heaven, it is true, no longer a claim to a thing in God's kingdom. But that snake didn't fall to hell, unfortunately, but to earth, where that wily serpent tempted Eve and Adam in the garden. Since causing our fall, this world became Satan's princedom. His woes abound; death and despair reign here. He accuses: "You deserve hell!"  And you do.

The devil is on the attack against you because you have been baptized. Satan doesn't bother with atheists, heathens, and others who don't belong to God. But you have been named with God's name. At your baptism God claimed you as His very own dear child. But this has marked you in Satan's sight. It has placed a target on your back for him to aim at. And because you sin, his accusations tend to hit home.

But in your baptism you have a protection against the devil's attacks! You are redeemed by Christ the crucified at the font! You belong to God now because of the ransom price Jesus paid for you on the cross. Satan cannot snatch you from God's almighty Hand, which is Jesus!
At the name of the Triune God into which you were baptized, the devil is exorcised from your midst, since Jesus defeated Him at the cross. When he accuses you of your unworthiness to be God's child, seeking to get you to jump out of God's hand, say, "Satan, hear this proclamation: I am baptized into Christ; drop your ugly accusation, I am not so soon enticed!"

Satan accuses you because, quite frankly, you have been guilty of many sins. The devil is the DA in the divine courtroom, indicting you of the various crimes you've committed against God's Law. You haven't loved God with your entire heart. You haven't loved your neighbors as much as you've loved yourself. Not just you, but he indicts all your brothers in Christ too. For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. You have no defense of your own. You are guilty as sin–literally. You deserve the woes of hell.

But you have an unlikely Witness Who comes to your defense. It's your own Lawyer, Jesus Who advocates for you in His testimony. He takes the stand and declares, "though you've done the crime, I've already done your time!". Satan is stunned. Because at Calvary, Jesus enacted a blessed exchange for you. He took your sins as His burden, bearing them in His Own body on that tree and suffering the curse of hell in your stead, there. In trade, He gives you His Own holy righteousness, credited to your account freely, by faith, so that as He has died, you now live!

The devil attacks the church for the same reason He attacked Jesus–because the Church is the Body of Christ. The ruler of angels Who is the likeness of God Himself kicked that nasty dragon out of heaven long ago. Satan seeks his revenge on Christ. He tried to kill baby Jesus soon after He was born, then entered Judas to betray the Lord. Since Jesus ascended, now Satan attacks the Church.

But your confidence remains in the Body of Christ. For now is the salvation, power and kingdom of our God. Today Jesus feeds you with His very body given for you in death on the cross, and gives you His blood shed at Calvary for you to drink. You are what you eat, after all. As believers in Christ, you are blessed to be forgiven in this sacrament. And you know that where there is the forgiveness of sins for you, there is also life and salvation. Satan is conquered for you through the blood of the Lamb–Jesus Christ.

Jesus at the cross kept that ancient promise to Eve that her Seed would strike the death-blow upon the head of that ancient serpent. Through this, you now rejoice, because, as much as Satan and his angels were cast out of heaven, you now live there, tabernacling in Christ, a child of God whose angel keep on gazing upon the face of your Father in heaven, keeping you connected to God forevermore, through word and sacrament.


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