Pentecost 16B (Mk 9:14–29)

September 13, 2015
Immanuel Lutheran Church—Bremen, KS
Bethlehem Lutheran Church—Bremen, KS
AUDIO (Early)
AUDIO (Late)


Now, I’m sure you’ve heard a lot in your lives about the enemies that we have as Christians. There’s the world of course. Even though God loves the world, the world doesn’t love Him, and it certainly doesn’t love His children. There’s also our sinful flesh. We’re our own enemies. Sin is certainly our enemy, but Christ has rescued us from that enemy through His death and resurrection. He’s saved us from ourselves, as Paul confesses, “While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” But there’s an enemy that doesn’t fit well into our modern sensibilities. Just because he doesn’t fit in with what we think doesn’t mean he’s not real because Scripture clearly tells us He is, and God’s Word clearly tells us that He’s our enemy. We have sin as our enemy. The world too is against us. But, “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.” The devil, the world, and our sinful flesh are our enemies. Today’s Gospel lesson focuses our attention to the devil and the demons in league with him. But there’s no reason to fear when it comes to the devil or the demons.


(I. That’s good because we can’t do it at all)

It’s good that Jesus is on our side because we can’t do anything about it. The devil and demons are out to destroy us. They’re not just out to destroy us spiritually either. They’re out to destroy us bodily too! Just consider our text today: “Jesus asked his father, ‘How long has this been happening to him?’ And he said, “From childhood. And it has often cast him into fire and into water, to destroy him.” That demon wanted to destroy that boy. He wanted to kill him. The devil and demons delight to bring us bodily misery and misfortune. Recall the story of Job. But what they want to do even more than cause us physical pain is cause us spiritual ruin. The devilish horde wants to destroy us spiritually. To do that they draw us away from Christ. They’ll keep us from Christ. That’s what happened to this young boy: “They brought the boy to him. And when the spirit saw him, immediately it convulsed the boy, and he fell on the ground and rolled about, foaming at the mouth.” The demon was trying all he could to keep that boy from Jesus.

Now, what’s our reaction to all these things? We’re faithless. One, we might try and dismiss demons as nonexistent, imaginations of former times. But if we were to face it head on, we’re just like the disciples and that boy’s father. We doubt Jesus’ power, as the boy’s father said to Jesus, “If you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.” There’s a lot of doubt there. We fear the demonic in a faithless way. Jesus rightly says the same thing to us: “O faithless generation, how long am I to be with you?” We should fear the devil and his demons as little as we fear a lion that’s behind glass at the zoo. That’s how we should view the devil and his angels, the demons, as caged us beasts. The Lord has caged them through His death and resurrection. But we should fear the demonic in this sense: we don’t go traipsing around on the devil’s turf. We wouldn’t go inside the lion’s cage at the zoo, would we? But if the lion gets out, he’ll be put back inside the cage. So also the Lord’s Word will always re-cage the devil. We mustn’t doubt that. But we have all sorts of worries, doubts, and superstitions when it comes to Jesus’ power over the demonic. So we must confess with the father: “Lord, I believe. Help my unbelief.”

(II. That’s good because with Him we can’t lose.)

This is why it’s good that Jesus is on our side. It’s good because with Him we can’t lose. Listen to the comforting words Jesus says, “All things are possible for one who believes.” Now this isn’t that you can get the car you’ve always wanted, pass the test, get the promotion. Jesus is talking in terms of being rescued from the devil. It’s even possible for a life-long demon to be expelled from this boy. All salvation is given to those who believe. It’s much more like what the catechism says concerning Baptism. “What benefits does Baptism give? It works forgiveness of sins, rescues from death and the devil, and gives eternal salvation to all who believe this.” That’s exactly what Jesus does for this boy. He gives him salvation. He saves him from the demon. He defeats the demon instantly. “He rebuked the unclean spirit, saying to it,  ‘You mute and deaf spirit, I command you, come out of him and never enter him again.’” With that Word the demon was undone, and the boy saved. It can’t be any other way. Jesus can’t lose, and neither can we because He’s with us.

(III. That’s good because He’s already won.)

It’s good that Jesus is on our side because He’s already won. Jesus took on the devil and his angels and won! He resisted the temptation of the devil not only in the wilderness when the devil said, “If you are the Son of God.” But Jesus even resisted the devil’s words and temptations on the cross, “If you are the Christ come down off that cross.” The devil tempted Jesus to not be the God of Good Friday and Easter, but Christ was exactly that God. And “by His death He destroyed him who had the power of death, that is, the devil,” as it says in Hebrews. Jesus came to die and rise, since “for this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil.” 

Jesus has done exactly that. He’s not only won the victory over the devil, He also delivers that victory to you. His resurrection victory is yours just as it was that boy’s in our text. Listen to what it says, “And after crying out and  convulsing him terribly, it came out, and the boy was like a corpse, so that most of them said, ‘He is dead.’ But Jesus  took him by the hand and lifted him up, and he arose.” Jesus raises the boy up. The boy is lifted up by Jesus. So also you, you we’re resurrected from the power of the devil. For in Baptism the devil, his works, and ways are destroyed and undone. You’ve been placed into Christ’s death and resurrection by those waters, as Paul says. When you eat and drink the body and blood of Christ, Christ dwells in you and you in Him and He will raise you up on the Last Day, the Day when the devil will tossed into hell forever. Jesus has won that victory, and continues to give it to you.

It’s good that JESUS IS ON OUR TO DEFEAT THE DEVIL. He’s by our side, upon the battle plain with His good gifts of Water, Word, Body and Blood, and with the Holy Spirit. This is good for us because with might of ours can naught be done, but Christ, the Valiant One, fights for us and He holds the field forever. There’s no reason for us to fear even though devils all the world should fill, All eager to devour. We tremble not, we fear no ill, They shall not overpower us. Oh, the devil may scowl fierce as He will, but He can harm us none, He’s judged; the deed is done; One little word can fell him. Jesus’ Word can’t fail, especially against the devil. It doesn’t matter if the devil and his demonic minions take our life, Goods, fame, child and wife, Let these all be gone, Our vict’ry has been won. Christ has already won it. With Him we can’t lose. He’s on our side. The Kingdom ours remaineth.


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