Oculi—My Eyes (Lk 11:14–23)
Immanuel Lutheran Church—Bremen, KS || AUDIO
Bethlehem Lutheran Church—Bremen, KS || AUDIO
INI + AMEN.
((5. Oops!: The devil wants silence.))
The devil wants silence. He wants to silence God. He wants to silence you. To do it he speaks, he lies. His lies kill. His word creates unfaith, undoes God’s good creation. It’s why he speaks. It’s why he does anything.
He wants to silence God. He doesn’t want people, doesn’t want you to hear the Gospel. He doesn’t want anyone to hear about Jesus’ death and resurrection for them. That message sends the devil packing, and so it must be silenced. He doesn’t want people reading their Bibles. He doesn’t want people to be baptized, to hear that they are thus beloved children of God, “with whom I am well pleased,” as the Father says. He doesn’t want faithful pastors who will preach the Gospel, who will absolve sinners of their sins. He doesn’t want you to receive Jesus’ body and blood. Any day the Words of Institution are silent is a good day for the devil.
The devil wants to silence you, too. He, of course, doesn’t want you to pray, doesn’t want you to praise Jesus for what He’s done for you on the cross or delivered to you in the here and now in His Word and Gifts. But the devil wants to silence you in another way, too. Really, it’s just another way of silencing God. It’s something the devil definitely doesn’t want getting out. He wants there to be a silence of love and forgiveness, and so the devil doesn’t want you to speak forgiveness to those around you, which is nothing else than delivering Jesus’ own forgiveness.
The devil is strong whenever God is silent leading to death and hell, and where He isn’t silent, the devil works even harder to silence God.
((4. Ugh!: Mankind wants the silence.))
It gets worse, though. We like the silence. Ever since Adam and Eve heard “the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day,” we’ve hid ourselves from God. We’re seduced into the silence. We’re sort of okay with the silence, okay with God not speaking to us, okay with God not speaking through us, either.
We can all notice the devil’s attacks in our day to day lives to bring about the silence he so desperately desires. We can discern his insidious, subtle, treacherous, sneaky ways of going about it. We can always come up with excuses for allowing a silence of God—skipping church, skipping His Word, skipping prayer. A bumper crop of “Yeah, but” and so many other excuses. The difficulty is real in the silencing of us, too. Just think about being kind, loving, even forgiving someone you don’t particularly like. You will then see the devilish difficulty and strange abundance of reasons that flood your mind to convince you to not love and forgive that person. What joy the devil has in that!
At every turn we see Satan striking and trying to dethrone Christ from our hearts. In Adam’s enslavement, the curse of evil came to all his children. We aren’t some neutral party. Far from it! In the heart of everyone is a throne. God designed us to be subjects of another. God intended to rule there, but mankind has dethroned God; we sinned. The devil’s lie: “You’ll be like God…” It’s impossible for us to have control of the throne, though, like a horse trying to ride its own saddle. If God does not occupy the throne, someone else does—the devil.
That truth is one of the hardest truths of Scripture for us to swallow. More bumper crop! “We’re free! We can do all sorts of things. We know a thing or two. We have power.” “Just like God,” right? The devil’s lie. The Apostles were sent to bring men from darkness to light. This “either/or” runs throughout the Bible. Like our text today: either “Beelzebul” or “the finger of God.” Satan, the usurper, against God, his creator, and the human heart is the battlefield—yours and mine. There is no third possibility. The Scriptures exclude it. No middle ground. No neutral.
((3. Aha!: Jesus breaks through Satan’s silence.))
What’s to be done, then? Well, the Lord’s true to what He speaks: “I will put enmity Between you and the woman, And between your seed and her Seed; He shall crush your head, And you shall strike His heel.” Our Gospel text shows us the fulfillment of this promise. Jesus breaks through the devil’s silence. No matter how deafening it may be, the devil’s silence doesn’t hold any water against Jesus of Nazareth, the Word of God.
((2. JESUS IS THE STRONGER MAN.))
How can Jesus do this? Well, He is the promised One, sure, but it’s more than that: Jesus drives a dagger into the heart of the devil. He speaks. “When a strong man, fully armed, guards his own palace, his goods are safe; but when one stronger than he attacks him and overcomes him, he takes away his armor in which he trusted and divides his spoil.”
JESUS IS THE STRONGER MAN. He comes and wages war on the devil’s turf. Jesus takes away his power, and that of the demons. (They have power! They cause disease, not every time, but the New Testament makes that clear.) Anyway, they made this guy mute in our text. Jesus unmutes the man. He mutes the demonic muter. He muted the devil in the wilderness, and Jesus’ death was the ultimate victory. There “the last triumphant cry” went out: “It is finished,” and He breathed His last. He removes the devil’s silence with the silence of His own death. He despoils the devil, despoils him of you.
That’s right. JESUS IS THE STRONGER MAN, and so He gathers you to Himself. He brings you out of the devil’s kingdom, claims you as His own and not the devil’s own. In the waters of Holy Baptism He brought you into the Kingdom of God. There “the Kingdom of God came upon you.” You, child of God, heir “having the hope of eternal life.” THE STRONGER MAN gathers you to Himself so that He would “live in you, and you in Him.” He does this with His body and His blood. How can the strong-man (more like straw-man) devil mess with you when you’re rooted, grounded, connected more and more, bodied and blooded together with THE STRONGER MAN, JESUS? The answer is: he really can’t. Not only is Jesus with you according to the promise of His Supper, but He will also “Resurrect you on the Last Day.”
((1. Satan is silenced forever.))
That’s just what the STRONGER MAN does, and we receive the benefits of His breaking through Satan’s God-silence. Gathered to Himself we will live forever, unmuted. When we see our STRONGER MAN face to face we won’t be silent. Then forever and ever we will sing His praises. Our voices won’t run out, our throats won’t get sore. We will see God with His ten fingers that were spread out in love for us, that were nailed to the cross, that took bread and the cup and delivered His body and blood for the forgiveness of sins. But just as important He spoke: “Take, eat; this is My body. Drink of it all of you; this is My blood.” The devil hates those words; we’ll offer eternal praises for them.
The devil will be silenced forever. His lies, His temptations, His word won’t even be remembered, let alone heard. But there won’t silence. There we will sing praises “with angels and archangels and with all the company of heaven as we laud and magnify the Father’s glorious name,” just like we do now. Only then it will be louder, stronger as we stand before JESUS THE STRONGER MAN forever.
INI + AMEN.