Pentecost 4, 2013 (June 23)
Holy Cross Lutheran Church
Rev. Todd A. Peperkorn
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord, Jesus Christ. Amen. Our text for today is the Gospel just read from St. Luke chapter Eight. Let us pray:
O God, You have prepared for those who love You such good things as surpass our understanding. Cast out all sins and evil desires from us, and pour into our hearts Your Holy Spirit to guide us into all blessedness; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
When Jesus enters into a place, things change. Our Lord has crossed the Jordan River and entered into foreign territory. He has cross the waters and now goes to do battle with Satan.
Good and Evil you see cannot co-exist. They are constantly at battle and at war with one another. That is their nature. So when our Lord goes to this land inhabited by demons, He is taking the battle to them.
I wonder sometimes why we are so surprised when the battle is hard and the warfare long. We wage war against sin, death and the power of the dvil every day of our lives. Sometimes we may have a feeling of triumph, like everything is going our way. But at other times it seems as though the fight is lost, and that we are now down or the count.
How do you think this man felt in our text? He had been possessed not by one, but many demons. Legion was their name, for they are many. In the Roman army a legion was a unit of 6000 soldiers or more. Yikes!
And like so many of our own troubles, this kind of tend to pile on one another. This man’s spiritual oppression leads to physical oppression and shame. He is naked, and seems defenseless against the forces arrayed against him.
Do you know that sense of pile on? We hear it a lot in the Psalms. “ I am overwhelmed” is a common theme of David. This man is so overwhelmed, that he is almost totally absent from the conversations in our text until the right time comes.
And that brings us to Jesus entry into the story. St. Paul reminds us in Galatians that Jesus’ came “when the fullness of time had come.” Now that doesn’t mean simply that God set off a big alarm clock that went off at the Annunciation. Rather it is that God, who is rich in mercy and kindness, orders all things so that everything will go according to His divine plan and purpose. Hear the whole section from Paul:
“But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God.” (Galatians 4:3–7 ESV)
God has great plans for you. These plans for you are not limited to where you work, who you marry, or even when you die. God’s plans for you are far, far greater than you can even know or understand. Jesus came to earth to free you from sin, death and the power of Satan himself. This is not a reform program. He isn’t here to tell you how to manage your sin, minimize its effects, and continue your life in mediocrity. No, when Jesus comes, he does to kill and make alive. He kills to destroy sin and breathe new life into a fallen and hurting world.
For many many years our baptism rite began with the words spoken by the pastor, “Depart, you unclean spirit, and make room for the Holy Spirit.” Baptism is all about this amazing, remarkable destruction that God does at just the right time for each one of us.
Now this is when things get interesting for you and me. Look at the reaction the people had to Jesus casting out these demons! What is their response? Do they rejoice that the man is now free? Do they throw a party and celebrate that the one who was dead to them is now alive? No, they do not. Far from it. Hear again what happens:
“When the herdsmen saw what had happened, they fled and told it in the city and in the country. Then people went out to see what had happened, and they came to Jesus and found the man from whom the demons had gone, sitting at the feet of Jesus, clothed and in his right mind, and they were afraid. And those who had seen it told them how the demon-possessed man had been healed. Then all the people of the surrounding country of the Gerasenes asked him to depart from them, for they were seized with great fear.” (Luke 8:34–37 ESV)
People flee from when they do not understand. They were so trapped in their own sins that when they saw the man healed of his possession, they couldn’t handle the truth. The reality that they did not have to live in their sins was more than they could bear. And so they rejected the only one who could save them from their own demons.
Today God calls you to Himself and proclaims that you are free in Jesus’ name. Today God draws you again to the waters of Holy Baptism, and will not let Satan have his way with you. As we hear in Isaiah:
“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you.” (Isaiah 43:2 ESV)
God has great plans for you, which you cannot even imagine. These plans will see you through this life and into the life everlasting, which comes at the presence of Jesus Christ. Come, then, be refreshed and renewed by the mercy of God at his Altar. He will guide you into all blessedness.
Believe it for Jesus’ sake. Amen.
And now the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in true faith to life everlasting. Amen.