January 31, 2016
Immanuel Lutheran Church—Bremen, KS || AUDIO
Bethlehem Lutheran Church—Bremen, KS || AUDIO
INI + AMEN.
The Lord Jesus brings the Last Day to His day. That’s what we see going on in our Gospel text. There are many magnificent promises that the Lord Jesus makes about what will happen on the Last Day. The dead in Christ will rise from the dead to eternal life with Him, and those with faith in Him who are alive will live forever with Him. Sin will gone forever. Sickness, pain, and death will die and pass away. The devil and all the other demons will be cast down forever. That will take place on the Last Day because of what Jesus did in His day, and also what He does in our day. It’s all based on what Jesus is doing. What Jesus does is based on what He was sent to do. “I must preach the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns as well; for I was sent for this purpose.” “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.” Jesus ushers in the Kingdom of God, His Kingdom. It’s why He was born. Jesus being sent to usher in His Kingdom means He was sent to supplant, conquer, and overthrow another kingdom. That’s what happens.
THE KINGDOM OF SIN, DEATH, AND THE DEVIL IS OVERTHROWN BY JESUS.
(I. The reality and strength of the overthrown kingdom.)
The devil’s kingdom is real. The devil’s real. Demons are real. He and the demons have power. They aren’t funny looking spirits with pitchforks—no real power there. They aren’t all powerful either, needing to be cast out with a ceremony, power, and just plain “luck”, like in so many scary movies. But they do possess people. The Scriptures don’t lie. They work against the faithful, pointing us away from Christ to their own power and influence. And so Christ tells them, “Be silent!” Sin’s kingdom is real. It’s power evident in all the sons and daughters of Adam, even in the faithful. As we just confessed: “If we say we have no sin we deceive ourselves.” Sin doesn’t rule unchecked as in those who have no faith, but “the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish,” as Paul says. Sickness and death come to us all. There’s no stopping it. We get sick. Sickness is just a preview of death itself, a sign that we will die, and we will. No doctor in all the world can keep us alive forever.
We can’t escape any of this. We’re under the power and influence of this kingdom. We can’t free ourselves. We can’t free ourselves from being sick. We can’t keep from dying. We keep on sinning, even though we don’t want to. The devil and demons are out to trick us and deceive us. They turn us from Christ, keep us from Him. But listen again to what Christ has said: “I must preach the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns as well; for I was sent for this purpose.”
(II.) Jesus’ Kingdom defeats all others.
His is a Gospel kingdom. He doesn’t rule by power and dominion. The devil’s kingdom does. Look at what happened in our text: “the demon had thrown him down in their midst.” Sin rules the same way. Temptation to gossip, lie, lust, temptation to any sin really, only gives way, at least for a while, once it’s given into. Sickness and death rule over us too. We see it even in how we talk about someone dying from cancer: he or she “lost their battle” with it. Jesus’ kingdom is one of Gospel, of Good News. That’s Jesus’ true purpose, His true kingdom is heard and seen there, in the Gospel, as He said, “I must preach the good news,” that is, “I must preach the Gospel.” The Gospel that He came to die and rise for sinners, for the possessed, for those who are sick and dying. You see His rule at Calvary, for there that He was crucified “Jesus of Nazareth, KING of the Jews.”
This Gospel and Kingdom come through the preaching of the Gospel, that Jesus died and rose FOR YOU. This Kingdom comes through Jesus’ Word. He wages war and conquers through His Word. We see it in our text. The demonic soldiers are vanquished. “But Jesus rebuked him, saying, ‘Be silent and come out of him!’ And when the demon had thrown him down in their midst, he came out of him, having done him no harm.” Sickness is routed: “He stood over her and rebuked the fever, and it left her.” Death is defeated. We all know the examples: Lazarus was raised, Jairus’ daughter, a widow’s son. Jesus raised them. He even raised Himself from the dead as He promised, “I lay down My life that I may take it again. No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again.” Jesus’ Word does it all. He delivers His cross-won, empty-tomb victory through His Word. As I said before, Jesus brings the promises of the Last Day to His day, and the possessed man, Peter’s mother-in-law, and all the sick and possessed gain the victory.
We also receive the victory. Jesus doesn’t just bring the promises of the Last Day to His day, but He brings them to us also. He does it in the same way: through the Gospel. Through the preaching of the Gospel the devil is driven away. The promises of everlasting life are delivered. He gives them to us. We have eternal life now: We’ve already been raised with Christ in Holy Baptism. We’ve heard the Last Day judgment in the Absolution. This is also why the Lord’s Supper is so vitally important. We receive Christ’s victory there. The devil flees from the flesh and blood of Christ, the promise of life everlasting both in body and soul. As we learn in the Catechism’s Christian Questions and their Answers, “the command and the promise of Christ the Lord” and our “own pressing need” should admonish us to receive this Sacrament frequently—as often as possible. But what if I don’t feel that need, and I don’t always, or don’t really desire this Sacrament, Luther says this, “To such a person no better advice can be given than this: first, he should touch his body to see if he still has flesh and blood. Then he should believe what the Scriptures say of it in Galatians 5 and Romans 7. Second, he should look around to see whether he is still in the world, and remember that there will be no lack of sin and trouble, as the Scriptures say in John 15–16 and in 1 John 2 and 5. Third, he will certainly have the devil also around him, who with his lying and murdering day and night will let him have no peace, within or without, as the Scriptures picture him in John 8 and 16; 1 Peter 5; Ephesians 6; and 2 Timothy 2.”
Jesus conquers and overthrows the kingdom of sin, death, and devil. He does it through His death and resurrection and delivers it in His Word, in His Baptism, His Absolution, and in His Body and Blood. In these He brings the blessings and promises of the Last Day to our day, even as He brought them to His day. This is why we come to church, why in our text, “All those who had any who were sick with various diseases brought them to Him.” We come to Jesus here, we bring others. For here Jesus comes with His gifts. He’s given them to us to keep us both body and soul unto everlasting life so that when the Last Day finally comes we receive not just promises of things to come but the actual things. Sin being gone forever. Death being destroyed. The devil being cast down. These things will take place. For on that Day: “He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” So also you. You gain Christ’s victory. He delivers it to you. It’s yours.
INI + AMEN.