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Jesus Silences the Demons

Luke 4:31-44


Epiphany 4
St. Peter & St. John Lutheran Churches  
Evansville & Ruma, IL

Sun, Jan 28, 2007
Fourth Sunday after the Epiphany

Standard LSB C Readings:
First: Jer 1:4-10 (17-19)
Epistle: 1 Cor 12:31b-13:13
Gospel: Luke 4:31-44
Psalm: Ps 71:1-6 (7-11) (12)


It used to puzzle me that Jesus refuses to allow the demons to speak in today's text.  We could understand if they were saying all sorts of wicked things about Jesus.  But we only hear them say the truth.  Jesus is "the Holy One of God" (Luke 4:34).  Jesus is "the Son of God" (v. 41).  The curiosity that kills us often wonders what else the demons would have said if they were not silenced.  Since we are God's people, we think we can keep ourselves unaffected by their lies and cursings.  We can avoid falling into their trap.

Or so we would like to believe.  But we listen to Satan's lies for far too long too.  We give him a chance to say what he wants to say - as if his wickedness does not influence us.  It does.  His lies have found a home in our hearts.  How often do we doubt God?  How often have we thought the best thing to do was say nothing about someone's sin, rather than rebuke the sin and speak forgiveness in Christ?  And while the Devil tricks us into not telling God's Truth, Satan has our kids and our neighbors believing that no religion is better than any other.  Conned into ignoring the consequences of sin, they walk the broad path that leads to destruction.

Jesus will not allow the demons to speak.  He knows the danger.  He knows better than we do how they have corrupted us.  The Lord knows that is why Simon Peter's mother-in-law was ill with a high fever.  Not that she committed some specific sin which resulted specifically in that fever, though that can happen.  No one should be surprised if your liver rots after you abuse God's gift of alcohol.  Likewise, if you abuse God's gift of sexuality, you will mess up both your mind and your body. 

But Luke is not telling us about such specific situations.  He is telling us about Simon Peter's mother-in-law.  She caught a virus by being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Except that there would not have been a wrong place if sin had not entered the world.  Nothing wrong with Creation - until the day humanity sinned.  And death follows when Adam and Eve first doubted God's Truth, when they behaved the same way you and I act when we pretend God never said what He said.  Death enters the world through sin.  Not just the death that requires the services of the undertaker.  But the minor daily deaths began - the scrapes from thorn bushes, the tinniest sniffles, all the way up to the full-blown flu and biggest blood clot.  This is the result of Adam and Eve thinking they could do better than God's goodness.  We do the same thing.  Ever wondered if God was holding out on you?  The sinful mind thinks like a teenager, that our Father in Heaven could never understand what we go through and is out to make our lives miserable.  When all the while it was the demons who are truly the source of our misery.  We complicate our lives when we open the door for them.  We let them into our home.  We risk everything God gave us for a moment's pleasure.  We believe their deception and do the Devil's deeds of darkness.

While we were still believing the Devil's lies, the Lord of Truth comes.  Though we have been the Devil's allies, the Son of God does not treat us as co-conspirators.  He treats us as if we were His people - for He makes us to be His people.  He treats us as if we were innocent victims - for though we are guilty, He comes to make us innocent.  The Holy One does not come to destroy us together with the demons.  "Since [we] have flesh and blood, He too shared in [our] humanity so that by His death He might destroy [the devil] who holds the power of death…, and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death" (Hebrews 2:14-15). 

Jesus comes to free us from every effect of sin.  Did you notice how Luke said Jesus healed the mother-in-law?  Jesus "stood over her and rebuked the fever, and it left her, and immediately she rose and began to serve them."  Jesus rebuked the fever.  He treated it the same way He treated the demons.  In other words, God considers disease as foreign to us as demons and death.  It is all the same to Jesus, all the outcome of the Fall, all invaders that do not belong in His Creation.

Jesus rebuked the demon inside the man in the synagogue.  And later that evening, when the demons were coming "out of many, crying, 'You are the Son of God!' … [Jesus] rebuked them and would not allow them to speak."  His authoritative Word grabs them by the throat.  Jesus speaks and the demons are silenced immediately.  And more than that, they give up their victims.  The man in the synagogue is unharmed.  The many are healed.  Jesus speaks and the people's mouths are opened to declare His praise.

But bodily healing in this life is not Christ's main goal.  How terrible for us to regain our bodies only to forfeit our souls.  His goal is the perfect healing of body and soul for eternity.  And so He says at the end of today's text, "I must preach the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns as well; for I was sent for this purpose" (Luke 4:43).  The Lord comes to preach His Truth.  Jesus was not simply a preacher delivering a sermon.  Jesus is God's sermon to the world.  Not the bad news of how you can get right with God - or rather, the bad news of how it is absolutely impossible for you to make it up to God that you believed the devil's lies.  Rather, Jesus is the good news that Jesus has made it up to God for what you have done.  The Good News that the Son of God crushes Satan's head, but only as the serpent strikes Christ's heel with the bite of the nail pounded into the Cross.  He let the Devil do His worst.  Jesus took the abuse.  He turned the other cheek.  And through all His suffering, Jesus never blamed God.  Never complained.  Never doubted.  He did what we should have done, but have not.  Jesus believed what we rejected.  Jesus resisted every temptation that we give in to.  He received the harsh treatment that should have been done to us.  And God counted it as a pleasing sacrifice, a perfect payment for all of our wickedness.

Jesus did all this so that the good news could be preached to you that God is forgiving and gracious and loving and caring about what happens to you.  He comes to preach His sacrifice to free us from every bondage we suffer.  To free us from our sin as He rebukes us, as He leads us through repentance to His forgiveness.  You are free from the condemnation found in the Holy Commandments.  You are free from the death and disease that dog you.  You are free from the demons that deceptively terrorize you.  You are free from anything that binds you - your past, your present, your future.  Nothing can harm you for eternity, because the King holds your life in His hands.  And those hands still have the Cross' nail marks upon them. 

The Lord is your Shepherd.  So fear no evil, for He is with you.  When Jesus silences the demons, listen to your Shepherd's voice, and get used to the idea that you must never listen to their voices.  For once you belonged to the Devil.  But now, whether you live or die, you belong to the Lord.  You were bought at the tremendous price of His life and death, body and soul.  Therefore, honor God with your body and soul.

Just as the Father sent Jesus to preach His Kingdom into the hearts of men, so also Jesus is sending you to preach that same Kingdom.  With Jesus, now you are the people of God to declare His glories day after day.  Do you worry you will not have the words to say?  You can learn some things to say as you read God's Word and talk to your fellow Christians.  Do you worry that people might not listen to you?  In the same way they treated Jesus whom you follow. 

Do you worry that you will not be able to get people to stop listening to demonic deceptions and to believe in Jesus instead?  Well, good.  Because you cannot make a person believe.  You can only tell them the Word that God's people trust in, the Word which the Holy Spirit inspires.  That Word still possesses the authority of Jesus.  The duty of God's people is to tell that Word.  The duty of God's Holy Spirit is to work through the Word, to convert the hearers, to change their hearts from dead to alive, to bring them to faith. 

Do you worry that you are too wicked to tell God's truth, that your past is too corrupt, that you have too often let the Devil have his say in your life?  Well, good.  Because you are too wicked, your life is too corrupt, and you have listened to Satan too often.  Now listen to the voice of Christ your Shepherd, "To heal you of your sinful silence and wicked words, I place my whole self upon your ear to forgive your sins in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  I place my whole self upon your tongue to make you new.  Take, eat, this is My Body.  Take, drink, this is My Blood, which is shed for you for the forgiveness of all your sins.  As often as you eat of this bread and drink of this cup, you proclaim My death until I return."  And the Children of God respond by singing, "Yes, Jesus loves me.  The Bible tells me so."  Amen.

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