INI + AMEN.
Water, blood, and Spirit crying,
By their witness testifying
To the One whose death-defying
Life has come, with life for all. ((LSB 597:1))
“We do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.” ((Eph 6:12)) We don’t just have to deal with the brokenness of the world and our own sinfulness. There is a devil. There are demons. “The Word of God teaches that we are all conceived and born sinful and are under the power of the devil until Christ claims us as His own. We would be lost forever unless delivered from sin, death, and everlasting condemnation.” And that’s exactly what your God Jesus has done. He was sent from the Father to do it. The Father “has delivered us from the power of darkness and [brought] us into the kingdom of [His beloved] Son, in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins.” ((Col 1:13–14)) Through His dying and rising, through washing and clothing you with it in the water of Holy Baptism, the devil was put to flight, and Jesus saved you. That’s what “God has done for you” ((39)), that is, that’s what “Jesus has done for” ((39)) you.
In a wat’ry grave are buried
All our sins that Jesus carried;
Christ, the Ark of Life, has ferried
Us across death’s raging flood. ((LSB 597:2))
((2. The devil wants you as his own.))
The devil will have none of that. The devil wants you as his own. He wants to bring you back and keep you in his kingdom—wants you under his power. As Jesus says, “He was a murderer from the beginning, and has nothing to do with the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies.” ((Jn 8:44)) He twists God’s Word. He wants you to be dead: spiritually, physically, and eternally. He wants to keep you from Jesus. He wants to keep you in misery and death, just like that man in our text who “lived among the tombs… was bound with chains and shackles…was driven by the demon into the desert.” Whatever keeps you from Christ and His Word is from the devil, whatever excuses we make are the words of the devil. The devil and demons want to shipwreck your trust in Christ. Legions upon legions are against us. “‘We are legion,’” the possessed man said, “for many demons had entered him.” Their weapon of choice: whatever and whoever will get you to abandon Christ and His gifts, to remove yourself from Jesus’ church, to keep you from hearing Jesus’ Word. It’s deathly serious business, cutthroat tactics, and a winner-take-all war. Just look at the world! Death, riots, lies and deception, terror—all the devil’s work.
Dark the way, but Christ precedes us,
Past the scowl of death He leads us;
Spreads a table where He feeds us
With His body and His blood. ((LSB 597:3))
((1. Christ claims you as His own.))
But Christ will have none of that. The devil is mighty: the man “was kept under guard and bound with chains and shackles, but he would break the bonds.” ((29)) Christ is mightier! “When he saw Jesus, he cried out and fell down before him.” ((28)) The devil and demons must own their Master, the true and living God Himself, Jesus Christ. No matter how powerful the devil is, no matter how much he flexes his muscles, Jesus is still God, but He’s more than that! He’s God FOR YOU! The devil wants you to die, and we cannot overcome Him. He wanted Jesus to die, but, in His death, Jesus shows that He is mightier! He conquers death and devil FOR YOU by His death FOR YOU. He walked all over them, left them in the dust, when He rose from the dead FOR YOU. He drives out and drowns the devilish horde. His Word and Water do it. All that’s wicked and all that’s unclean—pigs were unclean—“come out” ((33)), fall headlong into the waters, “and were drowned.” ((33)) When Jesus’ water, Word, and blood get together, the devil doesn’t stand a chance. From Christ’s side flowed water and blood, He spoke His Word “It is finished”—salvation won FOR you. Then He came to you, He spoke His Word (“I baptize you in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit”), washing you in His rosy, blood-red water of Baptism—salvation delivered TO you. He saves you from the devil, washing and cleansing you with His blood. Now He continually fights the devil FOR YOU in daily repentance, in His Supper, in His Word.
Though around us death is seething,
God, His two-edged sword unsheathing,
By His Spirit life is breathing
Through the living, active Word. ((LSB 597:4))
Jesus died and rose. The devil’s already undone. He doesn’t stand a chance against Jesus. He won’t conquer where Jesus has promised to be FOR YOU. Here in His Church, in His gifts of Font, Altar, Lectern, and Pulpit.
YOUR GOD JESUS RESCUES YOU FROM DEATH AND THE DEVIL AND GIVES ETERNAL SALVATION TO ALL WHO BELIEVE THIS.
He does this with His baptism that gives those very same things, “as the Words and promises of God declare.”. Now we, like that man, “[sit] at the feet of Jesus, clothed and in right mind.” ((35)) We come to hear Jesus’ Word, clothed with Him, the Spirit within us. Jesus’ Word and Water defeat the devil. No matter what happens in the world, no matter what the devil works, it’s all for nothing. Jesus is victorious. He’s victorious FOR YOU. This is what Jesus, your God, the true and living God, has done FOR YOU.
Spirit, water, blood entreating,
Working faith and its competing
In the One whose death-defeating
Life has come, with life for all. ((LSB 597:5))
INI + AMEN.