St. Michael and All Angels
September 29, 2013
In the Name X of Jesus. AMEN!
Beloved in the Lord,
There is joy in the hearts of the disciples this morning. You can hear it in their voice. These have men were sent out two by two. They were given to preach, to teach, to heal the sick as they announced the nearness of the kingdom of God. For wherever the Word of the King is proclaimed there is His reign. His reign is manifested through His Word. These 70 were given no knapsack, no money bags, and no sandals. That which rust and moth destroys were not to be the means of the King’s grace. They were to be focused. They were to be diligent. No dilly dallying along the way, no stopping to greet this person, network with the local officials, no hobnobbing with the all the usual hobnobbers. These men had an assignment, they were on a mission. They were to be lambs in the midst of wolves announcing the peace of God to each and every house they stayed in.
Having done their duty the 70 return with great joy in their hearts and in their voices, for not only was the Word received, not only were the sick healed, not only did they survive – lambs rarely survive in the midst of wolves – but even the demon submitted to them in Jesus’ name. Demons! The devils! Those whom St. Paul writes about when he says, “we wrestle not against flesh and blood but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. (Eph 6:12 ESV). Lambs wrestled with devils and demons in spiritual smackdown for the ages. There was victory! There was conquest! There was triumph all in the name of Jesus, all without moneybags, knapsack, or sandals, all only with the Word and the Name. And so the conquerors return from battle eager to rejoice with their king.
Where the heart rejoices in conquest pride is soon to arise. Where there is pride, there is vanity, for only a vain heart looks upon itself and rejoices. Such is the condition of us mortals. We are proud and we are vain. The hearts we have no longer beat as God intended. We love the wrong things and chase after what we suppose to be divine. Old Adam is forever a theologian of glory. We love glory. We covet power. Glory and power attract crowds as they appeal to our innate religious aspirations. Old Adam in us desires to be worshipped, to be god, to be his own god. We want to rule. Thus when the disciples return with joy that the demons submit in Jesus’ name, they’re rejoicing in their conquest, their triumph, their rule over the “cosmic powers of this present darkness and the spiritual forces in the heavenly places.” They do not rejoice in their King, no . . . their heart beats a different beat. They are coming back rejoicing in themselves. The devils may have been subjected to Christ’s name, but their subjugation set a snare which the disciples all too gladly tripped.
We also, much like these disciples, are engaged in a spiritual war. Are we not Jesus’ little lambs? Do we not bear His Name in our baptism? We do, and we are. Thus the fight against us and the true faith rages. The dragon would steal you and your children away. He would devour you like a lion consuming his prey. He would stalk you. He would wound you. And he would tempt you. At times his ploys are intended to frighten you, intimidate you, and/or confuse you. At other times he plays nice, looks cute, talks sweetly with his forked tongue. Though he is fully corrupted with himself, he can present himself as an angel of light. He can look good, he can act cool, he can flash his pearly whites and draw you nearer to hell quicker than you can say Joel Osteen or Joyce Meyers. Satan can send a shiver down your back to terrify you or send one up your leg to seduce you. He’s that wicked.
These snares are all around you, every one of you. Each of you has fallen prey at one time or another. We’ve all been trapped by the devil’s deceptions, the world’s weight, and our sinful nature’s natural inclinations. We have sinned and we do sin. These sins have names and the commandments name them for us, but all of these sins flow from the chief sin, pride – which in truth is idolatry.
Satan has tempted us with what we really want and really wanting it we’ve taken the bait. He doesn’t need to make us do it. It’s much easier for him than that. Old Adam wants it. This is why the disciples so easily missed the mark. They were turned inward and rejoiced in the wrong things because it fit with what the Old Adam in them really wanted to begin with.
There are no celebrities in God’s kingdom, not the kind of celebrities the world worships. In God’s kingdom there are lambs, there are kings and there are priests. The rising stars of this world have no place in the next – they already have their reward. Moths, rust and worms will consume not only their treasures but also their hearts in hell.
Jesus sees their demise in our text as beholds the demise of their leader. “And I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven.” He and his minions have been conquered, not with gold or silver, not with moneybags or knapsacks, not with swords or guns or tanks or armies or strategic mission initiatives, or any works we’ve done or any words we’ve said. He’s fallen because one little Word can fell him. He’s fallen, struck down by lamb on a stick, not just any lamb, not one you or one of Christ’s little lambs, no. The lamb on a stick is Christ on His cross! The dragon is mortally wounded by the wounds of the Lamb who died but rose again on the third day.
Satan set a trap for you and me and all of Adam’s descendants. Jesus was no different. The Son of God became flesh to set a trap of his own. Entering the dragon’s dominion and seeking to plunder his lair, the Son of God set Himself as bait. Beholding Him – who is one of us lacking only the stain of sin – the old evil foe coveted this trophy more than all others. He longed to cast down the Son whose place and position on God’s throne had always been his heart’s desire. And so the dragon pursued the Lord’s Christ! He stirred the nations in rage. He seduced the people with glory. He deceived the priests with power. He sought the death of the Lamb. Lambs are easy prey for dragons. Dragons are all too easily consumed with pride. Thus the Lamb of God was betrayed, captured, arrested, tried and found guilty, guilty not of sin, but of making Himself equal with God. He was guilty of blasphemy. It was all too easy. Satan took the bait. The Lamb was hooked on the tree. Jesus was crucified and in one short day, one quick hour all that the dragon had hoped, everything he coveted, came crashing down. Crushed under the weight of the cross the serpent was brought low. He was not merely knocked down. He was floored. His head not merely bruised but crushed. His dominion not merely wounded and sent into retreat, but toppled, forever defeated and never to rise again. In a split second, like lightning falling from heaven to earth, Lucifer was cast down,
put down by the cross of Jesus Christ!
This is the great smackdown of the ages.
You beloved are “given authority to trample on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy.” Sent out like lambs amongst wolves your only defense against the attacks of our adversary is the Word. The traps are still there. The snares are still set. The devil the world and your own sinful nature are still against you. The enemy’s fiery arrows are pointed at your heart and the hearts of your children. But “Do not be afraid, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” (2Ki 6:16 ESV) Michael and his hosts stand ready to do battle for you and with you that the authority given you is manifested in the Words you speak and the lives you live. God has set His holy angels to watch over you, to protect and your children, to guard you by night and to defend you during the heat of the day. “You should be certain beloved that angels are protecting you when you go to sleep, yea that they are protecting you also in all your business, whether you enter your home or depart. Therefore even when you come to die, you should say that Christ will be with you and will have an unnumbered multitude of holy angels with Him. You should know that angels are at your side not only in this life but also in death.” As scripture says, “He shall give His angels charge over you to keep you in all your ways” (Psalm 91:11).
Keeping you in all your ways ought to encourage you in the fight “against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” (Eph 6:12 ESV) There is a war going on. There is a fight to be fought. You are squarely in the middle, caught between heaven and hell here on earth. Christ has redeemed you with His blood and forgiven you all your sins. He has not promised you a perfect life, a life free of trouble or pain or sorrow or sadness. In fact, He’s pretty much said that if you follow Him all of this is going to afflict you. Satan promises the opposite but has no means to deliver. We who follow after Christ do so bearing our cross. Bearing our cross we carry God’s Word wherever we go. God’s Word is our concealed weapon against the powers of hell. God’s Word is our certainty. God’s Word is our strength. God’s Word is our encouragement. God’s Word is our glory. God’s Word is our power. We have nothing if we don’t have God’s Word. God’s Word is everything because God’s Word, God’s Gospel is the power of God unto salvation – to the Jew first and then to the Gentiles. Therefore we ought not be ashamed of the Gospel but speak the gospel! Share the gospel. Even as we care for the sick, feed the poor, clothe the naked, uplift the despairing, give hope the depressed, and speak peace to the peoples! The kingdom of God is near! And the King rules through His Word, even demons submit in His Name.
Beloved in the Lord, do not let the glories of this passing generation lure you back into the dragon’s dominion. Things that seem cool, smart, attractive, things that appeal to your comfort, your worldview, your self-esteem, your concepts of man, the world and god, these things he will use against you to deceive you, to turn you back, to turn you in on yourself. Beware and repent. Jesus calls you away from these things. Turn, therefore from the thoughts about sensational success, popularity and power, to contemplation about your heavenly status. Don’t be puffed up because the demons submit to you in Jesus’ name. Pride is a trap we all too often fall into. These are tools of the devil used to thwart the ministry of the Word and steal you away. No beloved, rejoice that your names are written in the book of life. You are God’s baptized children. You are washed in the blood of the Lamb. You have overcome the enemy by His blood. Therefore hold to God’s promises given you in your baptism and speak these promises it to the world. In fact, sing it to the world. Satan hates it when we Christians sing of our victory in Christ!
Yes beloved, sing and sing loudly!
“Swift as lightning falls the tyrant
From his heavenly perch on high,
As the Word of Jesus’ vict’ry
Floods the earth and fills the sky.
Wounded by a wound eternal
Now His judgment has drawn nigh!
Rejoice! Satan is fallen! Christ is Risen! We are baptized! AMEN!
The peace of God which surpasses all understanding keep your heart and mind through faith in Christ Jesus. AMEN!
What Luther Says, pg. 26