The Third Sunday in Lent 2016

Bible Text: Luke 11:14-28 | Preacher: Rev. Mark Buetow | Series: 2016

That’s funny! They accuse Jesus of casting out demons by Beelzebul. Beelzebul was “Lord of the Flies.” Except he’s not because only God can actually control the flies. After all, who brought the flies to Egypt? It wasn’t Pharaoh. It was the Lord. The finger of God brought judgment and plagues upon Egypt because Pharaoh refused to acknowledge the true God and let the Israelites go. Just so, Jesus has the finger of God. Ten actually. And He throws down Satan’s kingdom. We saw it in the desert. We saw it with the dog-lady’s daughter. We see it today: Jesus is in the business of throwing down the devil’s kingdom. He is the stronger man who comes and knocks the weaker one out. So why on earth would they accuse Jesus of doing His work in the name of the devil? Because, listen carefully: The devil’s super power is lying. And one of the ways he lies is to say that what he does is good and what Jesus does is evil. If God allows some bad thing to happen to you, the devil is right there, trying to convince you that whatever God is doing is of the devil. The “real” Jesus would never let that happen! He would love you and bless you and let you do whatever you want.

And there’s only one thing that stops that lying. The Word. “Blessed are those who hear the Word of God and keep it.” That’s Jesus, for one thing. He keeps the Word. Fulfills the Scriptures. Obeys the Father. He does everything the devil says is worthless and dumb and that’s EXACTLY what saves you. Jesus, handed over, arrested, beaten, and crucified, like He’s not God, like He’s not in control, like He’s just swept up in some random evil actions. The religious leaders of the Jews, declaring Jesus to be a criminal and a liar and a blasphemer. Get it? The devil tries to divert attention from himself to Jesus. And that’s exactly the thing that will do the devil in. Because Jesus came to do exactly that: to take all that is horrible and evil and become it, undergo it, suffer it, endure it. To expose and destroy Satan. To save you. That’s the power of the finger of God. That the devil’s kingdom is thrown down mightily and you are saved and brought into the Lord’s kingdom.

Lying and accusing Jesus to His face is clearly not going to work. So the devil turns his attention to you. Your life. Whatever YOU like must be of God. If you like it or it makes you happy, even if it’s against God’s Word, then God must approve. If it’s bad, or painful, or suffering, or sad, that can’t be from God. The devil tries to turn everything on its head and call God the devil and himself God. Don’t listen! Repent of thinking he’s making sense! You already know the power of God’s Word against Him in your life. Your baptism. The splash of water and the Word. That’s the finger of God reaching down and tracing the sign of the cross on your forehead and your heart, marking you as one who is the Lord’s not Satan’s. The declaration of the not-guilty verdict of Holy Absolution, as your pastor’s finger traces the sign of the cross. That’s the finger of God, poking the devil in the chest and telling him to back away from you. The very body and blood of Christ, held in the fingers of your preacher and delivered to you. That’s the finger of God wagging at the devil and telling him he cannot come near you, has no power over you, has nothing to say about you. The kingdom of the devil HAS been thrown down. Not because it’s divided against itself but because One who is stronger showed up and took it down by His death for sinners and His triumphant resurrection from the dead. This is, as Pharaoh’s magicians declared, the very finger of God, that cannot be blocked or hindered or kept from doing its thing, which is to save you from sin and death. The devil wants nothing so much as to destroy you and drag you down to hell. Too bad. So sad. Jesus came and took care of that. Of him. Of you. The finger of God has done it’s work. The Lamb has done His saving. And you are in the house and family of the Stronger One, the King, the Lord, the Lamb; now and forever. In the Name of Jesus. Amen.