To Beat the Devil

Luke 11:14-28

Man, it must have been crazy back then, with all these demons and devils afflicting people, huh? It was really a different day, don’t you think? Thank God it’s not like that anymore, right? But is it so different? No, we don’t have a bunch of exorcisms taking place, but is the devil any less active? Are people any less afflicted? Is hell any less real and its powers any less tyrannical? Read the news. Look around you. Examine yourselves. The devil is still a busy boy. And today’s gospel reminds us that Christ’s work of casting out the devil is as important today as it was then, and he still does it in the same way, with His Word and by His authority as the Son of God, our Savior. Continue reading “To Beat the Devil”

Our Pilgrimage

Psalm 63:1-8

Pilgrimages are usually defined as journeys to a sacred place as an act of religious devotion. Sometimes, when we’re experiencing what we perceive as spiritual decline, we think a pilgrimage will be just what we need. We may think that by going to a holy place, we will reconnect with God in a meaningful way and spiritual fervor will be rekindled. I can identify with this. I figure that if I am part of the problem, I can also be a part of the solution and God will be my helper. Continue reading “Our Pilgrimage”

Why Me?

Luke 23:26-31

The children came into his house all out of breath. It’s not that the distance we so great, only a mile or two, but, as usual, they ran the last half mile or so. They raced to Grandpa’s house because they wanted Grandpa to tell them their favorite story. Like only a little child can do, the youngest grandchild crawled up on Grandpa’s lap and looked up at him with those big, puppy dog eyes and asked: “Grandpa, can you tells us again about the day you met Jesus?” He had told the story a hundred times, if he had told it once. But the children never tired of hearing it…nor he of telling it. “What is it?” he thought to himself, “at least 40 years ago now, but I can still remember it as if it were yesterday.” “Well, kids,” he said, “you see, I had come up to Jerusalem for the Passover all the way from Cyrene in Africa. And it was just as I arrived…yes, just as I started coming into the city, when it happened. It was there I met Jesus.” Continue reading “Why Me?”

Et tu, Brute?

Luke 13:31-35

“Et tu, Brute” (Even you, Brutus) are the famous words from William Shakespeare’s rendition of Julius Caesar’s assassination. On March 15, 44 B.C. Roman senators took turns stabbing their elected consul out of fear of his rising power. They saw a threat to their freedom. They conspired to kill that threat. That conspiracy went into action on the famous “Ides of March” (March 15). A coin minted under Brutus’ leadership is known as the “Eid Mar” denarius. On one side, it’s Brutus’ face. On the other are two daggers with a “pileus” (the cap of freedom or liberty cap) in the middle. Brutus’ and those with him felt that their action preserved Roman freedom.  Others would say that they were trying to protect their power.  Continue reading “Et tu, Brute?”

Surely Not I, Lord?

Harmony of the Gospels: Passover and the Lord’s Supper

Jesus told His disciples, “The hand of him who is going to betray me is with mine on the table.” Jesus would be arrested by His enemies, but a friend would deliver Him into their hands. And what do we read in the next paragraph? “After Jesus had said this, he was deeply troubled. His disciples were very sad. They stared at one another, at a loss to know which of them he meant, and began to question among themselves which of them it might be who would do this. One after the other they began to say to him, ‘Surely not I, Lord?’” Continue reading “Surely Not I, Lord?”

Profit as Loss

Philippians 3:2-12

St Paul says, “Whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ.

But I say, “I don’t want to give up my profits.”

I don’t mind letting others know my strengths and what I’ve done right. I’m glad to say I’m not a liar, not a cheater, not a stealer, at least not most of the time. I’m downright proud of some things:  I volunteer, I save money, I love my kids, I try to help people, and I’m trying to do better in the things I do. You get the point. Continue reading “Profit as Loss”

Love One Another

John 13:31-38

Love one another. It sounds nice. And indeed it is. Love conquers all. Faith, hope, and love, but the greatest is love. And here Jesus says this is how people know we are Christians because we love. There is something different about the disciples of Christ. “By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (Jn 13:35). It is kind of like the picture hanging on the walls of many a Christian home, including mine. It has a quote from Joshua, “But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord” (Jo 24:5b). “We will do it, Lord. I promise. I promise you. And I will make sure my household does right by you too. I promise.” Continue reading “Love One Another”

One Little Word

Luke 4:1-13

“One little word can fell him.” We just sang those words in stanza 2. I’ve sung that line hundreds of times, and many of you have too. But until this week, I never bothered to wonder what the little “word” was. What word did Martin Luther think could defeat the Devil? I think maybe I assumed it was something like “Jesus” or “baptized” or “faith.” Maybe I assumed that Luther didn’t have one word in mind but rather was making the point that God’s Word in general, even in the smallest of quantities, is enough to fell Satan. But there actually was a word that Luther had in mind and it all revolves around the battle in our lesson today.

Today, we find Jesus going toe to toe with Satan. But before we can really dig into what is happening here, we really need to go back to the beginning, where the battle first began. It was so drastically different than what we see here. Back in the beginning, in Eden, there was not yet any human sin corrupting the world. In the Garden, Adam and Eve were surrounded on every side by countless reminders of God’s perfect kindness. The world was their oyster as they like to say. Continue reading “One Little Word”