Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Sermon for 3/8/15: Lent III



Cast Out

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Satan is no pushover. His army of evil demons and men will do everything it can to stop our salvation from happening. He started already when our Lord was barely even born, stirring up evil King Herod to try to kill Jesus. Throughout his life, Jesus encountered the devil and his powers. Satan went after Jesus directly in the wilderness. But Jesus doesn't give in to the devil's temptations and lies. He sends the devil packing by His Word. Every time the Lord throws a demon out of someone, the demon says Jesus is the Christ. The demons hate it, but they know. So the devil sends evil men—men who are full of their own religion, men who are so pious and holy they will kill an innocent man. It all seems like a perfect plan for Satan until we realize that this plan is exactly how the Lord is going to overcome the devil! By His bloody death, Jesus pays the price of the sins of the world, robbing the devil of his power to accuse us! By His descent into Hell, Jesus announces once and for all to Satan that his kingdom has fallen and his days are numbered! By His resurrection on Easter, Jesus throws down death itself and turns what was ruin and misery brought by the devil into our passing into eternal life. At every point, Jesus takes down the devil's power.

Beware, dear Christian! The devil is prowling like a roaring lion seeking to consume you. He has endless tricks up his sleeve to drag you away from Christ and your salvation. He sneaks his agents into the church, preaching and teaching what is false and wrong. He tells you that baptism is a good work we do to show that we're faithful to God. The devil works hard to keep you away from hearing God's Word. He sends preachers to say that the Christian faith is about prosperity and happiness instead of Jesus and the forgiveness of sins. He tries to teach us that all religions are the same and then fills the world with false religions that all hate and fight one another. We are born into that kingdom of Satan. We are born into this world full of the sin of Adam. We are born enemies of God and lovers of ourselves.

And so, to rescue us from this kingdom and bring us into the kingdom that Christ won by His death and resurrection, the Lord must cast the evil one out of us. Did you know that you've undergone an exorcism? It was the day of your baptism. At that moment when you were born by water and the word, the finger of God cast out Satan and the kingdom of God came upon you. You've had the devil cast out of you. Make the sign of the cross, and Satan will remember your baptism and run away scared! When the devil brings your sins back to haunt you and trouble you and make you question whether you really are a child of God, then come and receive absolution, and wave that announcement of forgiveness in his face! When the devil tries to wear you down by throwing diseases and sickness and trouble and the prospect of death at you, then come and eat Jesus' body and drink His blood. If you have Jesus in you, then there's no way Satan can take you down. If the devil wants you, he's got to go through Jesus who lives in you and you in Him by His body and blood. With these gifts, the devil can't touch you! Ignore these gifts, despise them, and you have no defense against him. But with these gifts, have no doubt the devil can't stand to be near you and must run in fear when these gifts are given!

Lent is all about Jesus defeating the devil at every turn. His going to the cross and rising again means the devil's kingdom has been overthrown. But it's not just overthrown for Jesus. Satan’s defeat happens for your sake. By your baptism into Christ, His victory has become yours. The devil has been thrown down for you too. That doesn't mean he won't keep trying to tear you away from Jesus. But the Word and Sacraments that Christ gives you keep throwing the devil down. They are your shield and armor and weapons against the Evil One. As long as you are in Christ Jesus, the devil can't touch you. Jesus casts out demons by the finger of God. That same finger has touched you and cast out the devil. The kingdom of God has come upon you, and you are safe now in Christ Jesus. In the name of the Father and of the Son (+) and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

The peace of God which passes all understanding will keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus always.  Amen.

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