Oculi (Lent 3) 2014
Delivered By
Pr. Mark D. Lovett
Delivered On
March 23, 2014
Central Passage
Luke 11:14-28

In the name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit.

Jesus was casting out a demon because that is what Jesus came to do. He came to diminish the reign of Satan and his demons and to usher in and establish the reign of God. That’s what the kingdom of God is: it is the reign of God. And it has come upon you.

For you have been baptized. You have been washed clean by the blood of Jesus and His name, the name above every name, which is Lord and God Almighty, has be etched onto you so that you have been branded as belonging to Him who made you, redeemed you, and sanctifies you. You are a people of His choosing; a nation of His gathering. You are the people of God.

And Jesus still casts out demons. Exorcisms are real. We have all just witnessed two exorcisms; one for Vivien and one for little Rebecca. “Depart, you unclean spirits and make room for the Holy Spirit, in the name of Jesus of Nazareth.” That’s not just some cool thing to say, it is the will of God. It is the reign of God; the kingdom of God coming upon them and upon you. For where the demons are cast out and unclean spirits barred from entering, you can be sure that is the place of God’s reign and kingdom.

Now I know that modern man doesn’t like to talk about devils and demons; that everything has some scientific and medical explanation, and that perhaps this sort of talk above all others is what keeps some from attending the Lord’s gathering and receiving His portion given out through His word and sacraments. But that is a great irony. For the devil and his demons want nothing more than to keep you away from the Lord’s gathering wherein He blesses His people and establishes His reign among them. And they don’t just use so-called science and reason to do it.

(By the by, if it’s not observable and repeatable, it’s not science. Evolution isn’t science. Biology is. Science doesn’t prove anything: it only observes and records. Any guessing based on such observations and recordings are called theories: improvable guesses.)

At any rate, this man born of the virgin who is raised from the dead, this man casts out demons. So until someone else rises from the dead and makes it known in all the world as this man has done, I think it best if we stick to Him and His word. And He casts out demons and unclean spirits. In fact, this is how He establishes the reign of God on earth. Now someone may object and say that, no, He establishes the reign of God on earth by preaching the gospel. But I answer, what else is the gospel except the good news that the kingdom of Satan has no dominion over us and that we have been transferred to the kingdom of God for the sake of Christ who died for us and rose again?

When the gospel is preached, demons are cast out. When the gospel is proclaimed, the battle is on. Christ and His messengers wielding the sword of the Spirit against Satan and his demons. And Christ is the strong man. He ties up Satan and his demons and plunders their kingdom. You – little Vivien and Rebecca here – are the spoil. Having belonged to the kingdom of Satan, you now belong to the kingdom of God.

But there is a warning here, too. Whoever is not for Christ is against Him. That is, whoever does not proclaim the gospel of Christ is against Christ. For there is no other way to be for Christ than to proclaim His gospel. And the gospel is not some undefined feeling of goodness or some general love among humanity. Neither is the gospel simply that God loves you, for that often comes abounding heresies that treat God as little more than a magic genie who answers when we say the right incantation or do the right thing. And it’s not really the gospel simply to say that Jesus died and rose again. No, the gospel is more specific than that. It is more concrete than that. The gospel is that Jesus died the death of the sinner to give you the life of the righteous one. He suffered separation from the Father on the cross so that you would enjoy communion with the Father by the Spirit of God. The gospel is that the merits of Christ and His victory over death and hell and its demons are yours, for you have been washed in His blood and are called by His name: holy to the Lord.

The only way to be for Christ is to proclaim His gospel. And the only way to truly proclaim His gospel is not simply to tell others about Him and His work, that is secondary proclamation. Primary proclamation is for you to thank Him for all His benefits to you; to eat of His table and drink of His cup; to sing His praises in His temple, among His Body, the Church, and to rejoice in the peace that is yours because the Strong Man freed you from your prison of death and is keeping you fast by His Spirit until the time when all those chosen of the Lord shall be made known to all nations and we shall reign with Him in life, world without end.

Such are those that are blessed, hearing the word of God and keeping it. Such is the kingdom of God.

+ In Nomine Iesu +