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No Strings Attached

February 03, 2019
By Rev. David French

I’m sure I’m not the only one who finds it strange that in our lesson for today Jesus tells the demons to be silent because, as verse 41 tells us, “they knew that He was the Christ.” Now, I could understand if Jesus was commanding the demons to keep silent because they were lying, but they were proclaiming the truth about Jesus and who He was. “You are the Holy One of God—the Christ—the promised Messiah. Have you come to destroy us?” Last I checked, Jesus is the Holy One of God, the promised Messiah and Savior, and He did come to destroy sin, death, and the devil. Isn’t that the good news that people need to hear?

I understand being conflicted about the demons, but is there anything wrong with what they said? So, why would Jesus command anyone—St. Peter or demons—to remain silent about the truth of Who He is? To speak or not to speak should never be a question when it comes to evangelism and sharing Christ, should it?

Well, let’s think about that. I mean, think about what was being heard and seen by this crowd while these demons screamed their confessions. More to the point, think about what or who wasn’t being heard while the people were witnessing this great and miraculous event.

You and I both know that it’s very easy to miss significant portions of the proclaiming of God’s Word in sermons by simply becoming fixated on something or someone around us. We get distracted and don’t even know what we missed, which is exactly what satan wants. How often like puppets on his evil strings we play right into his hands. And it’s not a “you” thing, it’s a sinful human thing.

It happens to me when Pastor Heckert is preaching. There have certainly been times I’ve thought, “I would have said that this way,” and that is a distraction, a portion of God’s word that I missed. Consider for yourself, how often have you walked out of church and not remembered hymns or who we prayed for or what the sermon was about because you had been focusing on where you’re going to go to eat or how much you have to do today or what time the game starts. Again, that’s exactly what satan wants and also what Christ wants to avoid.

I’m sure you’d all agree that if someone was convulsing and thrashing around in the middle aisle, I wouldn’t have your full attention, that you would be distracted and just stop listening. That’s why Jesus told the demons to “be quiet.” He simply didn’t want the wrong assumptions to be made about Him or His ministry.

“You are the Holy One of God; the Christ.” Absolutely true, but Jesus wanted to avoid the danger of people wrongly associating “the Christ” with earthly healing and prosperity, which is today sadly what many well-meaning Christians wrongly consider to be “evangelism.” Hey, got a problem … not one Jesus can’t fix! Jesus can get you a job, increase your wealth, find you friends, and fill your belly. And don’t forget, He also cures diseases and drives out demons! But is that what the Messiah is all about, helping us live the good life here and now?

So, what happens when you get tired of pretending? What happens when you’re new job is no better than the old … even after you decided to “leave it in God’s hands”? What happens if your marriage still fails, even after you decided to “be more faithful” in church and Bible study attendance? What happens when the medical test results are the worst possible news, even after you and everyone you know prayed for healing?

Tell me, do you think that these negative realities of living in a sinful world can kill faithful ministry? Do you think the faithful just turn a cold shoulder to Christ and His gifts, to the Good News that they are completely forgiven and redeemed in Christ’s all-atoning death and justifying resurrection because any material or physical blessings they may have been seeking didn’t come to be?

It’s truly sad to say, but sometimes, yeah. We, who are born of sin, have a real knack for acting more like consumers and customers who are “always right” as opposed to humble Christians who joyfully receive all that comes from God’s hands, and that’s exactly what Christ didn’t want to happen. This is why He told the demons to be quiet.

Remember Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world.” He didn’t want the wrong conclusion to be drawn about Him, His message, or the means of salvation. And from the mouths of demons, even the truth can be used to mislead.

The message that needs to be heard is the message of Christ’s all-redeeming suffering, death, and resurrection. And this isn’t just a religious truth, this is the truth. There’s nothing in this life more important! Christ carried and suffered for the sins of the world, and so, all who make up the world have been forgiven through the blood Christ shed on the cross. How sad it is so many have been distracted in this life that they missed the truth that Christ did it for them.

That is after all, what we confess in the sacrament of Holy Baptism, “we are all conceived and born sinful” and under the power of the devil. Yes—we are all, because of our sinful nature, the one we’re born with, controlled by satan. But our Lord and Savior mercifully comes to us, not because we deserve it, but because He loves us and knows better than we that there is nothing we can do to save ourselves. In fact, when we are still dead in sin, God graciously and mercifully comes down to us and claims us as His own. 

Remember it is God, Paul writes to the Corinthians, who: “… set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.” He does that through the waters of our baptism. He comes to us and sets us free from the bondage of sin, death, and the devil. He works in us a great and glorious exchange in those baptismal waters, freely giving us His son’s victory over sin and death, the victory He earned by taking our sins and death upon Himself and carrying them to the cross, where in the afternoon darkness His words rang out, “It is finished.” The debt for sin, yours, mine, and all who are born of Adam, was paid in full.

Today our Lord continues to come to us with His all-redeeming Words of forgiveness and hope even as we continue to live in our sin. He comes to us here at the railing, calling us out of the sinful world for just that moment so that we might joyfully return to our everyday lives living in His peace; that peace that surpasses all human understanding. That’s a love that only God Himself has, and He has it for you. It’s the love that sent His only begotten Son to live, die, and rise for you.

The love of God is why Christ instituted His Church on earth. While certainly God is everywhere, there are specific place’s He has promised to meet with us, that is through His Word and in His Sacraments. His church is where God in His wisdom has chosen to distribute those holy gifts by grace through faith to all who hold to Christ alone. Through these Means of Grace, our God offers to you again this day new life with no strings attached.

In Jesus’s Name, Amen

Tags: Luke 4:31-44