INI + AMEN.
“Eyeballs.” That’s what today’s name means. Oculi mei: “My eyes are ever toward the LORD,” as we sung in the Introit. David puts it in terms of sight, but eyes aren’t really the organ of faith. Now, unbelieving Thomas may have tried it, but there’s no “seeing is believing.” Eyes aren’t the organ of faith; Judas proves that.
But we do know that “faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of Christ.” Eyes may not be the organ of faith, but ears are! As the Father said at the Transfiguration, “This is my Beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; listen to Him.”
C.S. Lewis once told this story: “I have known only one person in my life who claimed to have seen a ghost. It was a woman; and the interesting thing is that she disbelieved in the immortality of the soul before seeing the ghost and still disbelieves after having seen it. She thinks it was a hallucination. In other words, seeing is not believing.”
Jesus calls us to “see” with our ears. “My sheep hear My voice,” and all that. So then, the devil’s goal is to get you to not use your ears. He wants there to be silence. He doesn’t want you to hear—well, not Jesus anyway. But that’s exactly who the devil has to deal with. And we should know full well that
THE DEVIL’S “SILENCE” IS DROWNED OUT BY JESUS’ WORD.
((I. The devil’s not really silent.))
Now, from our Gospel, we learn that the devil’s not really silent at all. We remember that, too, from a couple weeks ago. When Jesus was tempted, the devil had quite a bit to say. He did in our Gospel text, too: “Some of them said, ‘He casts out demons by Beelzebul, the prince of demons,’ while others, to test him, kept seeking from him a sign from heaven.” The devil wanted people to use their eyes, to look for what they wanted to see rather than what Jesus would give. He wanted to close people’s ears to Jesus’ Word.
And that’s the sort of silence the devil wants. He wants there to be silence of God’s Word. He doesn’t want it preached. He doesn’t want people to read it. He doesn’t want us studying it, and he certainly doesn’t want pastors teaching it! He doesn’t want people actually believing what Jesus says, “Blessed are those who hear the Word of God and guard it.”
By silencing the Word, the devil silences us, too. Maybe a demon will actually possess a man so that he’s mute, but the devil will silence us when he silences the Word. Without God’s Word we can’t sing His praises—the best praises being His own Word, as the Psalms and Liturgy show us. With out God’s Word we won’t be able to speak about him. We’ll end up being mute and silent. Then we’ll be surrounded only by the sights and sounds of the devil, the world, and our sinful nature, which do not want God’s Word to be “taught in its truth and purity.” When that happens, there’s a deafening silence of God’s Word.
((II. That’s OK, neither is Jesus.))
The devil wants his “silence” to rule the day. Yeah, he’s not really silent, but neither is Jesus. Jesus comes into the devil’s silence, and Jesus makes His Word heard. He overpowers the “armed man,” the devil. The devil thought his palace, the world, was his. “On earth is naught his equal,” after all.
But “the kingdoms of the world and their glory,” as he showed Jesus when he tempted Him, were plundered! Jesus did it! He despoiled the devil! He crushed His head. He has the battle scars to prove it: Scourged and nailed and pierced with spear, With en’my soldiers gathered near. Our mightier Lord fought to the death, With vic’try cry, gave His last breath.
The Lord drives out the devil and demons with a Word. His Word binds that devil strong man. Casts him out. That’s the power of Jesus’ Word that always delivers His cross and empty tomb victory—even beforehand! You get calvary preview whenever Jesus casts out demons.
But Jesus gives us the Word for the very same reason: to drive away the devil. “One little Word can fell him.” The Word that Christ gives us—His Word, God’s Word—is the Word that drowns out the devil’s supposed silence. It’s a mightier Word. It’s a Word that proclaims “Christ has died, Christ is risen; be gone, Satan!” We cherish and guard that Word.
That’s what “keep it” means. “Keep” in the Bible doesn’t really mean “do” or “obey.” So when Jesus says, “Blesséd rather are those who hear the word of God and keep it,” He doesn’t mean “blesséd, saved, set apart, are those who hear God’s Word and do it, obey it.” No, He means, “Those who hear God’s Word and guard it, keep it, cherish it.”
The devil has his silence, his silence of God’s Word. That’s what He wants and strives for. But THE DEVIL’S “SILENCE” IS DROWNED OUT BY JESUS’ WORD. Jesus drowns out the devil by binding him and despoiling his kingdom, rescuing you from it. He died and rose for you. His Word gives that dying and rising, and so it drives the devil away. Jesus’ Word strikes fear into the hearts of the demons, but Jesus’ Word bespeaks life into the hearts and souls of His people. Just as Jesus spoke “speaking” into that mute man, and suddenly “he spoke.”
That’s why we guard and cherish Christ’s Word. We make use of it, study it, have it taught to us. It drowns out the devil’s silence. Christ is mightier. “The bright sword of His mighty Word, spurns Satan.” It strikes fear into him. It scares him. It’s why he wants a silence and famine of God’s Word. He doesn’t want us using the organs of faith—our ears.
But when we make use of Jesus’ Word, the devil runs away. He can’t not! Just as Jesus’ death and resurrection are for you, so also His Word is for you—for you to make use of. It’s His gift to you. It drowns out the devil’s silence and delivers to you Jesus’ light, forgiveness, and peace. “Blesséd are those who hear it,” indeed!
INI + AMEN.