MTHOKOZISI NTOKOZO MAPHUMULO
Jesus Power over Demons
Jesus' Power Over Demons
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June 24,2007 — The Fourth Sunday after Pentecost
“Jesus' Power Over Demons” — Pastor Lassman
Luke 8: 26-39
My Fellow Redeemed in Christ,
Do you believe in a real Satan? Do you believe that there are demons? I’m sure you do, but if you don’t you should. Of course, such things might seem strange in our scientific and technical world and many people don’t believe in Satan or evil spirits. And, being spirits, we cannot see Satan or demons. But the Bible talks a great deal about them. I’ve never seen Satan or a demon, but I believe in them not only because the Bible talks about them, but especially because Jesus Christ himself speaks about Satan and demons. In the church we often talk about sin and death, and rightly so. But we should never forget about Satan and his evil forces. For they go together: Satan, sin, and death as Martin Luther says in his Small Catechism about Jesus: “who has redeemed me a lost a condemned person, purchased and won me from all sin, from death….and from the power of the devil.” The power of the devil. That brings us to our gospel lesson where we see “Jesus’ Power Over Demons.”
I. In Jesus Christ the kingdom of God has come to attack and destroy the kingdom of Satan. When he began his public ministry at his baptism Jesus said: “repent, for the kingdom of God is at hand.”.
A. God, of course, had created a perfect world. This included what we would call the “good angels.” But some of those angels, led by their leader, Satan, were not happy with their position in God’s order: they wanted to be God. And in their evil rebellion against God they were transformed into demons who oppose God and all that he stands for. It was their leader, Satan, who showed up as a snake in the Garden of Eden to tempt Adam and Eve to also be like God. And so sin and death came into the world. Satan had invaded God’s world and trashed it. Demons are the source of the world’s superstitions and religions. Demons are the ones behind those who persecute and kill Christians. Demons are the ones behind all the false doctrines that divide the Christian church. With deception and lies they do all in their power to keep people from believing in Jesus Christ and to destroy the faith of those who already believe. Thus the Bible calls the devil our “enemy”. There is an underlying evil in the world that human beings are helpless to overcome. The demon possessed man in our text symbolizes all of this. But remember that every human being is born into this world under the influence of Satan and a member of his kingdom as the apostle John says in his first letter: ”the whole world is under the control of the Evil one.” When you and I were born in the world, we too were under the control of the evil one—enslaved to sin and death, under God’s wrath and damnation. Never forget that.
B. And that’s why Jesus came into the world: to attack and destroy the kingdom of Satan and save his people. He trashed the kingdom of Satan, defeating him and giving mankind victory over sin and death. You can hear the fear in the evil spirit’s voice: “what have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the most high God.” They are filled with terror because they know that Jesus is stronger than they are. They are afraid of Jesus: “I beg you do not torment me.” They know that on the judgment day Jesus Christ will cast them into the fires of hell as we read in revelation: “and the devil..was thrown into the lake of burning sulpher, where the beast and the false prophet had been thrown. They will be tormented day and night.” And so the spirits begged Jesus not to send them “into the abyss.” The demon was afraid that that day had come. But it had not. So Jesus told them to leave the man and enter the pigs. And they had no choice but to do what he said. Now in our gospel Jesus only delivered one man from demon possession. But on the cross he delivered all of humanity, you and me, from Satan and his forces by dying for our sins. Because of Jesus Christ we never have to fear being possessed by a demon—for our bodies are the temple of God. Because of Jesus Christ we can resist the devil and his temptations—for in baptism we have been united to Jesus Christ. Because of Jesus Christ the devil cannot scare us with death or damnation—for all our sins are forgiven and we will be raised from the dead. Because of Jesus Christ the devil cannot deceive us with his lies because we know the truth. Paul says it all when he writes in Colossians: “for he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” (Col.1: 13) you and I have been rescued from Satan and his kingdom—he has no power over us.
II. But as always there are two responses to Jesus.
A. Regardless of the evidence, some people just won’t believe. We see this in our text. There were eyewitnesses to what had happened—the herdsmen who tended the pigs. And they went and told the city and the whole country-side what they had seen. Indeed, they created such a stir that many people went out to the spot where it happened to see for themselves. And there was Jesus- and the man sitting at his feet. And they saw with their own eyes the difference in him. He was no longer naked, but clothed; no longer out of his mind and violent, but calm and in his right mind. He was normal. Clearly, something profound and wonderful had happened. And now comes the strange response: “then all the people of the surrounding country…asked him to depart from them, for they were seized with fear.” What? ! Why did they say that? ! Couldn’t they see that Jesus had done something good, something kind, something merciful, something wonderful? Why did they ask him to leave? Did they care more about the pigs that were destroyed than they did for the well-being of this man? We are not told. But all through the gospels we hear of people who do not believe in Jesus even though they saw him doing miracles and wonderful acts of kindness. Perhaps we get a clue when just fourteen verses before our text Jesus says: “[these] are the ones who hear, and then the devil comes and takes away the words from their hearts so that they may not believe and be saved.” Many people prefer the kingdom of Satan. They like the darkness more than the light
B. But that wasn’t the response of the man from whom the demons left! He believed and was thankful for what Jesus had done for him. As a matter of fact, he was so grateful that he begged Jesus to go with him. But here’s another little surprise- Jesus said “no”. Instead he told him to return to his home and tell everyone what God had done for him. And that’s exactly what he did: he went home and told everyone what Jesus had done for him. I imagine that took a lot of faith. His emotions told him he wanted to be with Jesus. But he denied his emotions and instead did what Jesus told him to do. And so it is with us. We too are thankful for what Jesus has done for us. Every Sunday through the forgiveness of sins he gives us victory over sin and death and the power of Satan and the forces of evil. Such is the power of god’s forgiveness. We love coming here on Sunday mornings and being with Jesus and receiving his salvation. And yet as important as it is, we cannot sit in church all the time. Jesus wants us to return to our homes, our work, our schools—our communities and tell everyone what he has done.
Conclusion: when Jesus drove the demons out of that man Jesus attacked the kingdom of Satan. But when he died for the sins of the world Jesus destroyed Satan’s kingdom. And through faith in him we share in his victory. For Satan’s only weapons are lies, sin, and death. But in Jesus Christ we know the truth; in Jesus Christ our sin has been forgiven, and in Jesus Christ death has been defeated and we have life. Satan has no power over us. Indeed, we can resist him. And how do we know this is true? Well, we see Jesus casting out helpless demons who fear him and must obey him. But the main proof is the empty tomb. When Jesus was raised from the dead God’s hand was raised in victory over Satan and his kingdom. Everywhere the gospel of Jesus Christ is preached and taught the kingdom of Satan is trashed. And one day Jesus will return and cast Satan and all demons into the abyss that they fear so much. Amen!
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