Luke 11:14-28 | ‘Kept Safe From the Demons by the Word of God’ | Matins | Oculi | 27 March 2011
Jesus is casting out demons. This seems like a really wonderful thing to do. In the instance we have in
our Gospel reading there is a man who is mute, he can’t talk because he’s troubled with a demon, and Jesus sends the demon away and the man is able to speak. How wonderful! If you were there in the crowd watching these things happen you would be amazed; you’d go and congratulate the man on his new voice; you would get out your cell phone and call your friends, “You won’t believe what I just saw!”
And that’s what happen the day that Jesus cast out this demon, the people marveled, but not everyone. Not everyone there was happy about the good things that Jesus was doing. In fact, some accuse Jesus of having His power from the devil.
Luke 11:14-28Now he was casting out a demon that was mute. When the demon had gone out, the mute man spoke, and the people marveled. 15But some of them said, “He casts out demons by Beelzebul, the prince of demons,” 16while others, to test him, kept seeking from him a sign from heaven.
Jesus is accused of using unholy power to accomplish His works. That’s the setup, the introduction to what will now follow, our Lord Jesus’ answer to this accusation and His teaching about the demons and their defeat. There is a lot packed into these next eleven verses, so here is a brief outline.
First (11:17-18), our Lord responds with a bit of logic: “What you’re saying doesn’t make sense, a kingdom divided cannot stand.”
Next (11:19-20), Jesus offers their own Jewish exorcists as examples against what they are saying. He offers an alternative explanation to what is happening: “But if it is by the finger of God that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.”
Third (11:21-23), Jesus tells the parable of the strong man. The strong man keeps his house in order, that is, until a strong man comes along and ties him up. (This is really the center of the teaching in this text.) Jesus concludes this parable with an ultimatum: You are with Me or you are against Me.
Fourth (11:24-26), Jesus warns about the demons returning to the person they have left, and their second state being worse than their first.
Finally (11:27-28), Jesus is blessed by a woman in the crowd, and Jesus responds with His own blessing. “Blessed are those who hear the Word of God and keep it.”
There’s a lot going on here. Jesus is explaining to us spiritual realities; He is showing us things that are hidden from our eyes. We, after all, cannot see the devil and the demons that are constantly troubling us. So there is a temptation to make up our own explanations to the things we do see. That’s what the accusers of Jesus did in the crowd, they made something up; they thought that Jesus was send the demons away in the name of Beelzebub.
When we make things up it might be different. We might think that the devil is making people do things, or, more than likely, we think that everything has a natural explanation, but the point is: we’re just making it up. We cannot see where the demons are, where they trouble this world, and where they are not.
Jesus is going to explain these spiritual realities to us, and especially the spiritual realities of the thing that He is doing. “21When a strong man, fully armed, guards his own palace, his goods are safe.” The strong man is the devil. The palace is his kingdom, the unbelieving word, and his goods are all the people who, by sin and unbelief, belong to him.
The particularly stunning thing about this description of the devil’s kingdom is the word “safe,” “ his goods are safe.” The Greek word there is “peace,” “in peace are his things.” We expect peace to me a mark of the kingdom of God, not the kingdom of the devil, but we must understand that the devil has a false peace for those that are his, a false comfort. Their consciences are not trouble with their sin. They are not troubled with anxious thoughts about the life to come. They are content.
This is a great mystery to the Lord’s Christians, how the unbelievers can be so peaceful, that they can lack all concern for the things that matter most; but this mystery is explained in the words of our Lord Jesus, “When a strong man, fully armed, guards his own palace, his goods are safe.”
But this is not the end of the story, “22but when one stronger than he attacks him and overcomes him, he takes away his armor in which he trusted and divides his spoil.” The stronger one is Jesus. He is the One who attacks and overcomes the devil. The armor that the devils trusts is the fear of death, the accusing of consciences (see Hebrews 2:14). His spoil, that’s you. You are the loot. Jesus has bound the devil, tied him up, cast him down, all so that he could set you free. This is the testimony of the Scriptures.
1 John 3:8 Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil.
John 12:31-32 [Jesus says,] “Now is the judgment of this world; now will the ruler of this world be cast out. 32And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.”
Hebrews 2:14-15 Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, 15and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery.
Colossians 2:13-15 And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, 14by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. 15He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.
Our Lord Jesus attacks the devil and destroys him. It must be so. The devil is bound up with your sin and your death. If Jesus is going to forgive your sin and give you life, then the devil’s got to go.
But here is the great mystery, perhaps the greatest mystery of all, Jesus destroys the devil by being killed. He attacks the devil by letting the devil attack Him and nail Him to the cross. The stronger man defeats the devil, not with His strength, but in weakness, in suffering, in agony, in the cross. The cross might look like the devil’s victory, but it is not. It is his defeat. Jesus triumph’s over the devil in His death.
And this is because Jesus, on the cross, is taking the hell that you deserve, the accusations of the devil that should be yours. He who knew no sin became sin of us, see, so that the devil has nothing to accuse you of, no sin, no guilt, no shame, Jesus bore it all. He takes away the sin of the world.
And this, dear saints, is what Jesus is teaching in the parable of the strong man, this is the spiritual reality that we need to know to understand the thing around us: our enemy the devil is defeated.
But look, Jesus follows this parable with a warning.
23Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters. 24″When the unclean spirit has gone out of a person, it passes through waterless places seeking rest, and finding none it says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ 25And when it comes, it finds the house swept and put in order. 26Then it goes and brings seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they enter and dwell there. And the last state of that person is worse than the first.”
How is this, that the demons, after they are defeated, still carry on, still come to trouble us? I don’t know how this is, but Jesus says exactly that. Jesus drives the devil out of a person, and the Holy Spirit, and even our Lord Jesus Himself dwells with a person, with His dear Christians.
But lets say a person casts aside the Lord’s Word, a person rejects the mercy and kindness of Jesus, a person gives themselves over to sin, to breaking the commandment, to living how they want regardless of what the Scriptures say. This person has expelled the Lord Jesus and the Holy Spirit, and their home is vacant. When the devil comes back he has no weapons, but he needs none. There is no one there to stop him from coming in.
We’ll take this text for what it is, a warning. We know that the devil is defeated, but we also know that he’s dangerous, that he’s still after us, and that we still must be on our guard. But there is hope, great hope, in fact.
It seems like the last few verses of the text are disconnected from the rest of the text, the woman in the crowd who shouts out a bless to the Lord, but I think our Lord’s response to her is the key to this whole spiritual battle:
27As he said these things, a woman in the crowd raised her voice and said to him, “Blessed is the womb that bore you, and the breasts at which you nursed!” 28But he said, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and keep it!”
Those who hear the Word of God and keep it are blessed. They are the ones who are kept safe from the devil and his demons; they are the ones who have nothing to fear, for those who hear the word of God and the one who hear of Jesus, of His cross and death, of the devil’s defeat. Those who hear the Word of God and those who hear that their sins are forgiven, that God is please with them, that they are given the perfection of Jesus in place of their sin. Those who hear the Word of God are those who hear that the blood of Jesus cleanses us from all transgression, and if we have the blood of Jesus and the forgiveness that is wins and delivers, then the devil has nothing to accuse. He has no way in.
Dear saints, Jesus is casting out demons, and still cast them out by His Word of life and forgiveness. He keeps us safe from the devil by His Word, and for this we give Him thanks and praise. Amen.
And the peace of God which passes all understanding, guard your hearts and minds through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
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Pastor Bryan Wolfmueller
Hope Lutheran Church | Aurora, CO