Oculi--The Third Sunday in Lent
March 4, 2018
St. Luke 11:14-28
It is written in the Gospel according to Luke: 14 Now he was casting out a demon that was mute. When the demon had gone out, the mute man spoke, and the people marveled. 15 But some of them said, “He casts out demons by Beelzebul, the prince of demons,” 16 while others, to test him, kept seeking from him a sign from heaven. 17 But he, knowing their thoughts, said to them,.... 20 But if it is by the finger of God that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you. 21 When a strong man, fully armed, guards his own palace, his goods are safe; 22 but when one stronger than he attacks him and overcomes him, he takes away his armor in which he trusted and divides his spoil…. 27 As he said these things, a woman in the crowd raised her voice and said to him, “Blessed is the womb that bore you, and the breasts at which you nursed!” 28 But he said, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and keep it!” thus far the text.
Let us pray: Almighty Father, who has given the Strong Man Jesus to bear our sin, grant us Your Holy Spirit and protect us in body and soul; in the name of Jesus. Amen.
In Lent so far we’ve seen Christ’s power over the devil and his kingdom. Today, Jesus’ enemies accuse Him of driving out demons by the prince of demons, which Jesus calls a ridiculous idea that doesn’t make any sense. But we do get two warnings here about what happens when the Lord casts Satan out of us. He will either come back with a brute force attack or he will try to make our religion about something other than hearing and keeping Christ’s Word. A brute force attack is when the devil realizes he’s been cast out by your baptism into Christ so now he comes back with the world and your sinful nature to assault you with all sorts of temptations and vices until you just give up on Christ and stop coming to church and believing any of it at all. You know, using the things and people around us to cause us to fall into misery and mistakes and give up on Christ. The more subtle way is to distract you with something that sounds religious but isn’t really about Christ at all. Like the woman who praised Jesus’ mother. You know, coming to a church for something other than God’s Word and Supper and forgiveness. Beware of these attacks, either head on with full force or subtly and craftily. And repent of wanting to join in these things! Beware and flee to Christ who alone can withstand these temptations and cast out Satan for good.
You see, now you are a marked person. A target for the devil. And when he comes for you, there is only one thing to do. Give him the finger of God! Jesus declares to His enemies that He drives out demons by the finger of God. We saw the power of God’s finger when the Egyptian magicians couldn’t duplicate the plagues the Lord brought upon Pharaoh and Egypt. The finger of God is not just a metaphor. God actually has a finger. Ten in fact. And hands and feet and human flesh. For Jesus is true God and true man who has come to save us from Satan’s kingdom. He has come to rescue us from our slavery and bondage to darkness and sin. He does so by casting out Satan. And He casts out Satan by being the sin bearer. Satan goes where there are sinners and sins and so Jesus rescues you from the devil by making your sins His own and being nailed to the cross on Calvary and there suffering, bleeding and dying for your sins! His descent into hell is the victory lap around the devil’s kingdom in which He declares Satan’s power null and void. His resurrection is the proof for the whole world to witness that since sin has been overcome, so has death, its curse.
So just how do you aim the finger of God at the devil? You start by making the sign of the cross to remind him of your baptism. That you were washed. That he was cast out of you and you brought out of his kingdom already at the font. You hear Christ preached and hear your sins absolved. Those words of Jesus drive the devil away as surely as Jesus standing here speaking in person. You receive Christ’s body and blood so that instead of the prey of a sinner the devil must see in you the Lion of Judah who has overcome sin and death and therefore he must fear to get close to you! Do you see? All the power and might and strength of God against Satan is yours in Christ that the evil foe may have no power over you. Your sins are forgiven. You are God’s child. Death has been defeated. Eternal life is yours. Blessed are you who hear the Word of God and keep it. For Jesus is yours. And therefore the devil can’t have you. In the Name of Jesus. Amen.