Sermon 3-15-2020

March 16, 2020


Jesus and the Devil + Luke 11:14-28

We bind unto ourselves the name, the strong name of the Trinity, by invocation of the same, the Three in One and One in Three. This binding took place at our baptism, where the name of the Holy Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Ghost was spoken over us and given to us as a gift. It was at our baptism that the Holy Trinity removed the devil from us. It was at our baptism that the devil and all his works and all his ways were rejected. It was at our baptism that the Holy Spirit entered us, and we were made a temple of God, we were given the gift of faith, we place all fear, love and trust in God above all things. Today, we are bound to, we are joined to, we are united to the Holy Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Ghost. He has created us, richly and daily providing for us. He has suffered and died on the cross for us, purchasing and winning us from sin, death and the power of the devil, they have no power over us; in Him we are victorious. He has called us by the gospel, enlightened us with His gifts, made us holy and keeps us with Jesus Christ in the one true faith.

As we journey through these forty days of Lent, we see the battle taking starting to take place, starting to heat up between God and the devil. During His forty days in the wilderness, Jesus was tempted by the devil, and when He could not overcome, Jesus said, “Away from Me, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only shall you serve.’” Today, we hear about Jesus casting out demons from those who have been overtaken by the devil. Jesus said to the crowds watching, “It is by the finger of God that I cast out demons, the kingdom of God has come upon you. I am the One who is stronger than the strong man, the devil, I will attack the devil and overcome him, I will take away his armor in which he trusted and divide his spoil.” All of these events, where we see Jesus battling with the devil, will lead up to the main event, which will take place on the cross, on Good Friday, when Jesus will crush the devil’s head and destroy him.

This truth, this victory that Jesus has won over the devil and his works and his ways, is why we bind unto ourselves the name, the strong name of the Trinity, by invocation of the same, the Three in One and One in Three. Jesus said, “Every kingdom divided against itself is laid waste, and a divided household falls…Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters.” “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and the devil.” “When the unclean spirit has been cast out of us, it moves along seeking others to dwell in, and finding none it says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ And when it comes, it finds the house swept and put in order. 26Then it goes and brings seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they enter and dwell there. And the last state of that person is worse than the first.”

Be aware, the devil prowls around looking for whom he may devour. Watch and pray, for the devil and his demons will return and eagerly take up residence where he once lived. Repent and believe the Gospel, return to the Lord your God, depart from evil and live.

The devil knows what he is doing. He is a liar and a thief and a cheat. The devil wants us to belong to him, and he works hard to make it happen. Plagues and viruses and sicknesses are wonderful things the devil uses to draw us away from and unbind us from the Holy Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. It is sickness and suffering and pain that the devil uses as an effective weapon to bring about fear and doubt within us, that we would not remain love God above all things.

The devil knows that we Christians are comfortable coming to church and hearing preaching and teaching, gathering for prayer, confessing our sins and hearing absolution spoken by the pastor, receiving the Sacrament of Jesus’ body and blood for the forgiveness of sins and the strengthening of our faith, but if he can stir up hysteria by means of a plague or a virus or a pandemic, so that we cut ourselves off from and don’t gather together to receive any of Jesus’ gifts of Word and Sacrament that He so desires to give us; the devil knows that it will drive us to despair, the devil knows that we will fall into disbelief and other great shame and vice, the devil knows we will eventually doubt and hate God, the devil and his demons know that we will be and easy target and victim, and once again they can move back in taking up residence within us.

The devil wants us to forget and even despise the words and promises of God. The devil wants us to forget about our usual practices of prayer, and fasting and loving our neighbor. The devil encourages us to become gluttons, and slanderers, and lose all regard for our neighbor, thinking only about ourselves and our immediate needs. The devil wants us to store up earthly treasures which moth and rust can destroy. The devil wants us to do all of this, further damaging our faith toward God and fervent love toward each other. The devil will do anything to keep us from going to church, thinking that church can be harmful to us, that church isn’t the green pastures our Good Shepherd says it is. The devil wants us to feel comfortable, thinking it’s a good thing to cut ourselves off from Jesus’ care, that Jesus’ goodness and mercy do not follow us all the days of our life, that our help does not come from Him who made heaven and earth. The devil wants us to forget our baptism, forget about our need for repentance and forgiveness, forget about how important the Lord’s Supper is for us, that the devil has no power over us. The devil knows that if he can get us to take our eyes off of Jesus, he can have more power over us, no, he will have all power over us. If the devil can get us to look at ourselves and our bodies and our needs and not our neighbor and his needs or the Holy Trinity and His ability and desire to richly and daily provide, the devil will not only win the battle he will win the war and we will receive temporal death and eternal damnation. The devil knows that Jesus will come again to judge us and condemn us, saying to us, “I never knew you.” Just like the politicians say in Washington, so too the devil, “Never let a good crisis go to waste!”

But Jesus says, “Blessed are those who hear the word of God and keep it!” We are blessed, dear brothers and sisters in Christ, we know where our help comes from, it comes from the Lord. We gather together, here in God’s presence, to remember our baptism, which binds us to the Holy Trinity. We firmly believe that in our baptism nothing separates us from God’s love in Christ Jesus. We live in our baptism, laughing at the devil’s attempts to get us to doubt God’s faithfulness. We live in our baptism, telling the devil to depart from us, confident that Christ Jesus has given us the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body and everlasting life.

We must come to grips with sickness and death, even if we didn’t have to worry about this coronavirus, for we are mortal, we will die, dust we are and to dust we will return. But we need not be afraid, by His suffering, death and resurrection, Jesus has defeated sin, death, and hell, they have no power over us. In Christ Jesus, because baptism now saves us, we are victorious. That is why today, and every day, we bind unto ourselves the strong name of the Trinity. Amen.