Sunday, March 23, 2014

Second Anglican Sermon: Dumb and Dumber

Dumb and Dumber

Friends from Wallace Days Visiting
 at Covenant RE Church today
Kathy Kuhl and Cathie Showalter

Gospel: Luke 11:14-28
Homily Text: Luke 11:14-23

Ashlee Arnau
Ashlee Arnau is a cheerleader who made a basketball shot you almost have to see to believe. A basketball was placed at center court. She began running from the far key, turned a flip as she approached midcourt, and picked up the ball while on the down flip. As she completed the up flip she let go of the ball which went into the basket.

When you witness a shot like that, there are a couple of ways you might respond if you talked with the girl. You might say to her, “Maybe a wire was attached to the ball that guided it into the basket, but you didn’t do what it appears you did.” Or, you might say, “That was really neat. Do it again!”

People had similar responses when Jesus exorcised a demon.

1. Demon

14 And he was casting out a devil, and it was dumb. And it came to pass, when the devil was gone out, the dumb spake; and the people wondered.

There was a man who could not speak because of  a devil, one of the demons allied with Satan. By no means were all such cases in Jesus day the result of demonic activity, but the case with this man. His case reminds us that Satan’s power is destructive power.

Adam and Eve.
  • Another evidence that Satan and his demons are both deceivers and destroyers of mankind. Jesus said  that from the beginning Satan was a liar and a murderer.
  • Satan convinced Adam and Eve that he was on their side while God was withholding blessings from them. But as soon as he succeeded in leading them into rebellion, they lost the blessed life they had as they were estranged from God, from one another, and from the creation. Work became frustration. Childbearing became pain, and life turned to death.

  • Possessed by many demons
  • Deranged, uncontrollable, driven by the demons   out into the wilderness, cut himself with stones, let out horrible shrieks, spent his life alone among the tombs graveyard
  • Demons destroying him in body and soul
  • Jesus cast the demons out, and the man’s true humanity was restored. He sat calmly clothed and in his right mine.
  • Demons then asked Jesus to let  them to enter a herd of pigs, and when he allowed it, immediately the pigs stampeded off a cliff into the Sea of Galilee. The condition of the man before Jesus cast out the demons and the fate of the pigs when the demons entered them show us the destructive intent and power of the Evil One

  • Satan often transforms himself into an angel of light. He presents himself as our friend and tells us temptations  to sin are blessings. It is amazing how easily and often we are deceived.
  • But Satan is a destroyer. All his blessings are curses. He attacks the image of God, robs us of human wholeness, causes us misery, and spoils our lives.All he wants to do is to destroy us as much as possible in this life and to drag us down with him to eternal destruction in the life to come.

Jesus and the Destroyer
  • Jesus cast the demon out. And immediately this man could speak.  
  • Jesus came, as the Apostle John put it, to destroy the works of the devil.  He came to set us free from slavery to  the devil, from bondage to sin, and from eternal death. He came to restore us to fellowship with God, to begin renewing God’s image in us, and, when he comes again, to free us from all evil and grant us all blessedness. However much Satan may seek our destruction and however much of his malice we may experience now, he cannot rob of us eternal life and happiness.

2. Critics

15 But some of them said, He casteth out devils through Beelzebub the chief of the devils.
16 And others, tempting him, sought of him a sign from heaven.

Some Marvelled
  • The people marvelled. That does not mean all of them understood the significance of what happened to the man, or believed that Jesus was the Son of God and the Messiah, but they marvelled at Jesus and his power over the demon.

Some Criticised
  • There are always critics. Matthew and Mark tell us they were Pharisees and scribes. They do not seem to have doubted that Jesus successfully exorcised the demon, but that did not lead them to believe in him.
  • Beelzebub Accusation
Some of them accused Jesus of casting out demons by power of Beelzebub, the evil power the Jews called the Lord of dung or Lord of the flies. They said Jesus was doing the work of the devil by  the power of the devil. They were guilty of a great blasphemy attributing  to Satan the work of the Holy Spirit of God.
  • Demand for Sign
Others demanded that Jesus do another sign. They want to see something else spectacular, an act that would make them go “Wow! Did you see what he just did? Paul said that Jews demanded signs - demonstrations of power. But signs or miracles do not overcome unbelief. Jesus said that not even a man rising from the dead will convince those who do not believe.

There will always be
  • those who marvel at Jesus but do not believe
  • those who blaspheme him
  • those who demand a sign but would not believe if it were given

3. Christ

17 But he, knowing their thoughts, said unto them, Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and a house divided against a house falleth.
18 If Satan also be divided against himself, how shall his kingdom stand? because ye say that I cast out devils through Beelzebub.
19 And if I by Beelzebub cast out devils, by whom do your sons cast them out? therefore shall they be your judges.
20 But if I with the finger of God cast out devils, no doubt the kingdom of God is come upon you.
21 When a strong man armed keepeth his palace, his goods are in peace:
22 But when a stronger than he shall come upon him, and overcome him, he taketh from him all his armour wherein he trusted, and divideth his spoils.

Apparently the comments were made in private as they talked among themselves, but Jesus, drawing upon his supernatural knowledge as the Son of God, knew what they were thinking and saying.

Absurdity of Satan’s Making War on Himself
  • If they were right then the devil is fighting himself, evil is making war on evil
  • when a kingdom engages in war within itself it is l likely to be destroyed - Yugoslovia is no longer a country because its citizens made war on one another - it was torn apart by conflict among the Orthodox Serbs, Catholic Croats, and a Muslim minority
  • when a house is divided it will collapse - when there is constant fighting between a husband and wife the marriage may end with divorce - when there ongoing bickering among family members the family may cease to be a family
  • it makes no sense that Satan would make war with himself by providing the power to Jesus to cast out one of his demons, one of his own soldiers

How do their sons exorcize?
  • sons are either their grown children or their disciples - without saying whether these Jewish exorcists - they are in a bind - if Jesus casts out demons by the power of the chief demon, then, if they believe their sons cast out demons, then is Satan working through their sons?

What it does mean?

The finger of God
  • Jesus destroys their arguments, not because he loved to win arguments but in order to invite them and us to ask, What is happening? What does this mean?
  • When God did miracles of salvation and judgment through Moses and Aaron in order to set his people free from slavery in Egypt at first Pharaoh’s magicians were able to duplicate or at least fake the same miracles Moses did
  • Aaron threw down his staff and it turned into a snake, they did the same
  • Aaron stretched out his staff and water turned to blood, they did the same
  • Moses stretched out his are and frogs swarmed, they did the same
  • But when it came to the third plague, the covering of of the land of Egypt with gnats, they could not produce gnats - and they said to Pharaoh, “This is the finger of God” - “God is doing this, we can’t”

The Kingdom of God
  • If what Jesus is doing is the work of the finger of God, if this is God’s power at work in Jesus, the significance is that the kingdom has come upon you - in the person of Jesus, in the words of Jesus, in the works of Jesus - the kingdom has come because the King of the kingdom has come - not the King they were hoping for, not a King that met their expectations, but the King who is God’s Son
  • Illustration-  a strong man attacked by stronger- the strong man feels he and all his possessions are secure and safe - then a stronger man attacks him, defeats him, and takes all the possessions he has accumulated
  • Satan is a strong man - his house was the world and his possessions were all the people of the world  the whole - the world  his dark kingdom - the only exception was Israel which itself was most of the time no more than a flickering candle - but nowlook what is happening - demons are expelledpeople are set free from oppression - he has come to do battle with and defeat the devil
  • But defeating the devil is more exorcising
demons - more than healing diseases, rebuking the
wind and waves, multiplying loaves and fishes, or
raising from the dead a widow’s son
  • The devil is defeated and the kingdom comes only when Jesus goes to the cross, bears
      our sins, experiences all the hellish fury of the
      devil, and submits to the Father’s wrath - it is when he
seems to be utterly weak and defeated  that Jesus is
winning his greatest victory- it is when Satan seems 
strongest that he is being defeated - it is by death 
that Jesus attains resurrection obtains eternal life for

4. Decision

23 He that is not with me is against me: and he that gathereth not with me scattereth.

The coming of Jesus, the defeat of the devil, the arrival of the kingdom of God, and accomplishment of salvation in the life, ministry, death, and resurrection of Jesus  means you cannot be neutral. Jesus demands a decision.

  • Some like to keep all their options open. Some think it is enough if they do not actively oppose Jesus, if they do him no purposeful harm. But once Jesus came into the world proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God that is not possible. If you are not with him you are against him. If you are not gathering his flock you are scattering it. Not to believe in him and follow Jesus is to decide against him, not to choose Jesus is to reject him, not to take his side it to take the devil’s side.
  • But Jesus invites and calls us to his side. To believe in him as the Son of God, to trust him as our Savior from sin and condemnation, to follow him as the Good Shepherd who leads us to heaven and the eternal kingdom

  • Lent calls us to examine ourselves, to see the greatness of our sin, to recognize that the devil who tempted Jesus in the wilderness is our tempter and enemy
  • Lent it calls us to walk with Jesus through his sufferings culminating at the cross, and to realize it was for our sakes he suffered and died in order to save us from sin, Satan,
  • Lent calls us to commit ourselves to the Savior and to open our mouths and praise him for our deliverance

Hear him ye deaf, his praise ye dumb
your loosened tongues employ.
ye blind behold your Savior come,
and leap ye lame for joy.

The Proverbial Roses and Thorn
Cathy Kuhl and Cathie Showalter

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