Evangelical Lutheran Diocese of North America

Wednesday after the Festival of the Transfiguration of our Lord

Posted on February 5, 2020 by Pastor Dulas under Devotions
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Scripture: St. Matthew 12:22-50 (NKJV)
12:22 Then one was brought to Him who was demon-possessed, blind and mute; and He healed him, so that the blind and mute man both spoke and saw. 23 And all the multitudes were amazed and said, “Could this be the Son of David?”
24 Now when the Pharisees heard it they said, “This fellow does not cast out demons except by Beelzebub, the ruler of the demons.”
25 But Jesus knew their thoughts, and said to them: “Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation, and every city or house divided against itself will not stand. 26 If Satan casts out Satan, he is divided against himself. How then will his kingdom stand? 27 And if I cast out demons by Beelzebub, by whom do your sons cast them out? Therefore they shall be your judges. 28 But if I cast out demons by the Spirit of God, surely the kingdom of God has come upon you. 29 Or how can one enter a strong man’s house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man? And then he will plunder his house. 30 He who is not with Me is against Me, and he who does not gather with Me scatters abroad.
31 “Therefore I say to you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven men. 32 Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man, it will be forgiven him; but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit, it will not be forgiven him, either in this age or in the age to come.
33 “Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or else make the tree bad and its fruit bad; for a tree is known by its fruit. 34 Brood of vipers! How can you, being evil, speak good things? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. 35 A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good things, and an evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth evil things. 36 But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment. 37 For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”
38 Then some of the scribes and Pharisees answered, saying, “Teacher, we want to see a sign from You.”
39 But He answered and said to them, “An evil and adulterous generation seeks after a sign, and no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. 40 For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. 41 The men of Nineveh will rise up in the judgment with this generation and condemn it, because they repented at the preaching of Jonah; and indeed a greater than Jonah is here. 42 The queen of the South will rise up in the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and indeed a greater than Solomon is here.
43 “When an unclean spirit goes out of a man, he goes through dry places, seeking rest, and finds none. 44 Then he says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ And when he comes, he finds it empty, swept, and put in order. 45 Then he goes and takes with him seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter and dwell there; and the last state of that man is worse than the first. So shall it also be with this wicked generation.”
46 While He was still talking to the multitudes, behold, His mother and brothers stood outside, seeking to speak with Him. 47 Then one said to Him, “Look, Your mother and Your brothers are standing outside, seeking to speak with You.”
48 But He answered and said to the one who told Him, “Who is My mother and who are My brothers?” 49 And He stretched out His hand toward His disciples and said, “Here are My mother and My brothers! 50 For whoever does the will of My Father in heaven is My brother and sister and mother.”
People are led to believe that demon possession is only like the horrifying spectacles depicted in movies. We are numbed and blinded to the reality that evil spirits manifest themselves all the time around us. The lies, vanity, and rebellion that come from evil hearts and minds are worse than any special effects that Hollywood puts on the screen.
The Pharisees were eager to twist what Jesus said and did so they could try to condemn His authority and protect their own. Such an exchange was not just a difference of opinion or miscommunication. It was the work of the Evil One. The Pharisees were possessed by the lie that they had the right to ignore Jesus’ teaching and undermine His works. Their own works were corrupt, yet their mouths insisted that they were acting righteously. That is the power of demons.
Our Lord teaches us to pray “Deliver us from evil…,” which can also be understood as “Deliver us from the Evil One…” The devil has been attacking us and sowing lies in our midst from the beginning of our human race. And the only reason we have not been overwhelmed by his unceasing attacks throughout the thousands and thousands of years is that God saves us from the power of the devil.
Our Lord’s work of casting out demons is not about the gross spectacle of a twisted human form, nor is it about the vain spectacle of a wonder-worker who does supernatural shows of force. Christ’s work is the holy work that takes place constantly with Word, deed, bodies, and souls, throughout history, as He alone is the One who has the power to crush the Evil Serpent and save us from sin and death.
We pray: Heavenly Father, deliver us from the Evil One and protect us in Your Son. Amen.
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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