The Lord is not in league with Satan or Beelzebub. When you’re being charitable, you want to think that, deep down, His hearers know that. They may want to think the worst about Jesus. They may want to convince themselves and their neighbors that Jesus is a tool of the devil. But even a fool would be able to figure out at some point that Satan isn’t going to help anyone, and he certainly isn’t going to help anyone cast out his own demons. As Jesus says, “A kingdom which is divided against itself cannot stand.” So if Jesus was casting out demons with Satan’s help, Satan’s kingdom would be divided, too. That’s not going to happen. Satan knows the Law, and he knows how to keep his cronies in line. The devil won’t let his own minions work against him in his desperate fight against the Son of God.
But consider this: What if God’s hand is working through what our Lord is doing? What if the finger of God is the power behind the miracles Jesus is doing? If that’s the truth, then the kingdom of God truly has come! What if God really is coming into our world and into our lives? What if Jesus really is like a guy breaking into a house that’s guarded by the strong man, Satan? First He ties up the strong man who is guarding the prize. Then, after He has overcome the strong man, the spoils—the souls that should belong to the devil because of our sin—now belong to Jesus. He takes us back, redeeming us from our sins, from death, and from the power of the devil. The devil is tied up, defeated—but not merely because Jesus is stronger than the devil. He is, but that’s not what defeats the devil. The devil is done in, defeated, overthrown by the Son of God who dies for your sake. Jesus suffers and dies for the sin of the whole world. That’s the victory that overcomes the devil.
Give up living life with your eyes closed to the truth. And what is that truth? All by yourself, by your own strength, you are a whitewashed tomb—good works covering a body dead in sin. You are a poor, miserable sinner. You are under the control and watch of the devil. Jesus has come, and He has saved you by dying for you. There’s nothing inside of you worth saving—nothing in and of yourself worth rescuing. Our Lord does what He does because of His grace. And when He rescues you, when He saves you, it is accomplished by the finger of God. Our Lord’s hand lifted the water that drained down your head at the Baptismal font, and that water washed your sins away. His voice absolves you and puts salvation into your ears through the Word. His fingers put the Body and Blood of Christ into your mouth. Your pastor is doing these things, but he does them by the finger of God. Our Lord Jesus is working through him.
This Sunday is known as Oculi—Eyes Sunday. With that in mind, pay attention to what you see during worship this morning. Don’t concentrate on what you think you feel. Don’t be concerned with what you think about yourself. Instead, fix your eyes on Jesus and what He is doing. He saves you by binding up the strong man, the devil. He saves you by delivering His salvation to you through His means: His Word preached into your ears, His Baptismal waters poured over you, and His Supper placed into your mouth by the finger of God. And when our Lord does that—when He breaks into your world and saves you—then you know the kingdom of God has come upon you. And it has, for Jesus has come to you and lives within you. 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.