Text: Matthew 13:24–30, 36–43
Title: The World: Where a Wordy War is Waged
INI + AMEN.
What are we to make of the devil? What should we think when hear about Satan? What should be looking out for? What must we keep in mind? Well, I think it’s pretty clear from Jesus’ parable of the wheat and the weeds that the devil, as scheming, cunning, and crafty as he is, isn’t actually that smart. He apes whatever God does. He apes whatever He sees Jesus do. The devil isn’t creative as we count creativeness, but he can only play monkey see, monkey do. He thinks he’s outsmarting the Lord. He certainly outsmarted the Lord’s servants, His angels, “Did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have weeds?’” But you can’t outsmart the Lord, “He said to them, ‘An enemy has done this.’”
But the devil won’t give up. He keeps waging his war. When it comes to our Gospel lesson, I know you’re thinking, “This doesn’t seem like warfare to me.” But trust me it is. How does the devil wage his war? Well, he does it how the Lord Himself does things: with words. The Lord sows His Word: we learned that last week. When the Lord sows His Spirit-filled Word, it produces sons of the Kingdom. It produces faith. It creates new life. As we heard last week in Isaiah, “My word that goes out from my mouth shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.” The Son of Man sows His Word, and the devil sows his word. No matter who’s sowing, sons of a kingdom are produced: Sons of the Father’s Kingdom when the Son sows, and sons of the devil’s kingdom when the devil sows.
(3. The devil wages his wordy war.)
The devil has been waging his wordy war since the beginning. He’s been sowing his lies and half truths. He’s planted twisted words—including and omitting along the way. Where God builds a church, the devil builds a chapel next door. “Did God really say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?”…“You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” We all know the rest. Adam and Eve disregarded God’s Word to them, they clung to the devil’s word, and then their hearts turned away.
You see the Father had used the Eternal Word, His Son, and the Everlasting and Eternal Spirit to create the heavens and the earth. This God, the Triune God, the only true God and Lord, this YHWH, planted His garden. He formed Adam from the mud, and He formed Eve from Adam’s own side. He tied His Word to the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. That tree was only deadly because of the Lord’s Word, and He had tied His word of “Don’t eat” to it. The devil’s sowing, his word to Eve and Adam involved removing God’s Word from the Tree. The Word was removed from the Tree, Adam and Eve ate, and the devil’s sowing was begun in earnest.
The devil also sowed this word with Jesus. He waged his wordy war with Him. The devil’s intent was to keep the Word off the tree, and to remove Him from it. When the devil tempted our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, he sowed his word with the goal to keep the eternal Word from the tree: “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.” The devil is saying, “Don’t be the Jesus you really are. Don’t go to the cross. You don’t need to be crucified to save the whole world. All you have to do is fall down and worship me.” The devil didn’t stop sowing there. He even sowed his word when Christ was on the cross, “He saved others; he cannot save himself. He is the King of Israel; let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him.” The devil is seeking to remove, once again, the Word from the Tree. That’s what he does with his word. It’s how he wages his wordy war.
(2. The Son of Man overcomes him.)
But the devil’s word which removes God’s Word from Trees doesn’t work. The Son of Man overcomes him. The Son, the Word, stays on that Tree. He shed His blood and died. In that moment the devil’s kingdom was overcome. All his sowing was vain and empty. It was useless because. He may sow his word still, but for the sons of the kingdom, what joy there is for us because, “He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins” as Paul says.
The Son of Man overcomes the devil’s sowing by His own sowing. The devil’s goal is to wage his wordy war, and by that word to remove the Word from the Tree. But the Son’s Word cannot be overcome. The sower says, “gather the wheat into my barn.” The wheat endures. His Word endures. His Word produces sons of the kingdom, and His Word overcomes the devil’s word. The devil’s word which removes the word from the tree is undone. His word which says, “There’s no sin here. There’s no reason to feel bad, you’re really not that bad off. You just need to try a little bit harder next time. Everyone else is doing it, and how can it be bad? God’s word isn’t that strict with what you’ve done. He’s loving after all. How can God, who is love, look down on love?—look down on you?” But what the devil’s doing here is saying, “Christ didn’t die for that.” He removes the Word from the Tree for that sin so that that sin remains yours.
(1. The sons of the Kingdom overcome him.)
The devil has waged this wordy war against us. He wants the Word removed from the Tree. He wants the Word to remain buried in a tomb. By changing what sin is, he removes it from the cross, and when this happens Jesus gets removed from the cross. People think its true freedom and expression to cling to their own deeds, feelings, and preferences, but it’s just the devil removing the Word from the Tree. That’s how he wages his war. And it might be very subtle, but it’s how he does it so that it’s hard to distinguish his word—his love removing word—from Christ Word—a love bestowing word. So also wheat and tares, the weeds in our text, look so similar to one another.
But we overcome this wordy war. We overcome it because the Word was only removed from the Tree once He had died, and He was placed into a tomb, but He broke out of there three days later. We overcome the devil by the death and resurrection of Jesus. And we overcome Him by Christ’s Word which delivers that death and resurrection. His Word ties that death and resurrection to us. It splashes the water from His side on our foreheads. It pours the blood from His side into the chalice for us to drink. His Word that says, “I forgive you all your sins.” That absolution, that forgiveness, that Gospel through which Christ says, “I’ve died for all your sins. I’ve died for sins that the world says aren’t that bad or for sins that the world now calls virtues or smart planning. I’ve nailed it to the Tree. Do you really want it back? I forgive you all your sins.”
We overcome the devil now, and we will on the last day too. This is what Jesus says, “The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will gather out of his kingdom all causes of sin and all law-breakers, and throw them into the fiery furnace. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father.”
THE DEVIL WAGES HIS WORDY WAR AGAINST THE SON OF MAN AND THE SONS OF THE KINGDOM, BUT WE SHALL OVERCOME HIM AND WIN THE VICTORY.
The devil’s sowing, his removing the Word from the Tree might produce sons for himself, but we overcome him and win the victory because of Christ, the Word, who was nailed to a tree and placed into a tomb, but He rose from death leaving our sins behind in the grave, even as they once were nailed to the tree in Him. We over come such a wordy war by Christ’s Word which says, “I baptize you. I forgive you all your sins. Take eat My body, Take drink My blood.”
INI + AMEN.