“Satan’s House Plundered”
In the name of the Father and of the † Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Dear Family in Christ,
To Bring Good News
The young man from Nazareth was no longer a carpenter. He was now fully about the business of his heavenly Father. After his baptism in the Jordan River and his forty days of temptation in the wilderness, Jesus came to Galilee.
Mark tells us that Jesus came proclaiming the gospel of God. The message that Jesus spoke was “repent and believe the gospel.” He himself was the gospel in flesh and blood. In him alone people would find good news about being part of the kingdom of God.
In Mark’s gospel, we hear how Jesus not only taught about repentance and forgiveness, but he healed many people. His miracles showed he had authority. You might remember that last week we heard how Nicodemus came to Jesus saying, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God, for no one can do these signs that you do unless God is with him.”
He Was Different
It did not take long before people recognized that Jesus was different. He was different from the religious leaders of the day. Jesus was different from the people themselves. Yes, he was born of a woman and born under the law, but something was different.
Jesus was different from those who believed that they were securely in the kingdom of God because of their obedience to the law. He was different from those who were uncertain if they were in the kingdom of God. Finally, he was different from those who were sure they were not able to be in the kingdom.
Yes, Jesus was different and so was the response to his words and miracles. Crowds gathered to hear more and to be healed. They wanted to hear the good news about forgiveness, about being freed from the bonds that held them in uncertainty and fear.
Some saw him as competition and didn’t like it. Others were afraid of Jesus; he was taking away their security in themselves. If not afraid, some like his family, were concerned about Jesus well being.
Those who hated Jesus spread the word that “Jesus was possessed by The Prince of Demons.” They claimed that, “his miracles were the work of Satan.” They did all they could to discredit him.
Perhaps his family had heard the accusations and feared for the safety of Jesus. Maybe they too didn’t understand or have faith in the words of Jesus. They wanted to take him away from the crowds, to stop him from his preaching and teaching and healing.
Rather than believe, perhaps they were willing to think that Jesus himself was delusional about his identity as the Christ. We do not know the source of their concerns, but we do know that others were convinced that Jesus was not from God.
Jesus had a clear and straightforward answer to those who accused him of working for Satan. Jesus responds by telling them how ridiculous their idea was. If Satan was giving Jesus this power then Satan was fighting against himself. Everyone knows that you don’t win a battle by killing off your own soldiers.
Jesus said, “How can Satan cast out Satan. If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. And if a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand. And if Satan has risen up against himself and is divided, he cannot stand, but is coming to an end.”
Jesus is saying how silly it would be to think that Satan would undo all the evil and hurt that he has done in the world. It is God whose desire it is to undo all the work of Satan and to defeat Satan and his evil ways.
Jesus was preaching that he had come to defeat Satan and to free people from the rule of Satan in their lives. Jesus had come to free people from the fear of eternal damnation. He had come to bind Satan up and take away from Satan the souls of all who would believe in Jesus as their Savior.
It would be good for us to be reminded of God’s plan of salvation. It would be good to go back to the words that God spoke to Satan in the Garden of Eden. The Lord said to Satan, “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.”
This was God’s first promise that he would send a savior who would crush the power of Satan. It was a promised that would be fulfilled when the Holy Spirit placed the Son of God in the womb of the Virgin Mary.
It would be fulfilled in the life, suffering, death, and resurrection of Jesus. Jesus was not an ally of Satan but Satan’s greatest enemy. Jesus was the One who would crush the head, the power of Satan.
The Strong Man
Jesus describes Satan as the strong man in our lives. The strong man tempts us and because we are weak, because we have a sinful nature we give in to the temptations of the strong man.
I don’t mean to say, “The devil made me do it.” Our sins are our own. They are sins you and I commit. Satan loves for us to not care, he loves us to feel guilt and ashamed, he loves us to make up our own plan of salvation, as useless as that might be.
The power of Satan, the evil spirit is used to keep us apart from God’s mercy and grace. The power of Jesus and the Holy Spirit is to give us God’s mercy and grace. Jesus came into the world to bind up Satan, to make him powerless and then to plunder his house.
Jesus Speaks of Forgiveness
The Son of God came into the world so that all people, including the scribes, could be saved from the power of Satan. Jesus said to the scribes, “Truly, I say to you, all sins will be forgiven the children of man, and whatever blasphemies they utter.” That is how Jesus plunders the house of Satan, he forgives sins.
The Lord’s forgiveness is available to all, even those at times in their live deny their need for Jesus. The Lord’s forgiveness is given to you even when there are times in your life when you deny that Jesus is your Lord through your sinful thoughts, words, and deeds.
In Jesus God died for you. When he died, he died once and for all. That means what happened so long ago, so far away, on tree on a hill, happened for you. Once and for all means once for all of you no matter your age, your social status, your education, your morality or immorality. The Strong Man, Jesus Christ, does this for you because He loves you and wants to be live in his Father’s house forever.
There is only one thing that can keep us bound to Satan, to sin, and to death. Jesus said, “whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness.” There is one sin that cannot be forgiven, that sin is continually rejecting God’s forgiveness in Christ.”
If we continue to reject the Holy Spirit who gives you faith and continues to strengthen that faith then you are rejecting the gift of forgiveness, you are then continually rejecting Jesus as our Savior. Rejecting Jesus is binding yourself to the Law and rejecting the Gospel, the Good News that Jesus has freed you from sin and death.
The question pastors frequently get from worried parishioners is “Have I committed the unforgivable sin?” The answer is this, “If you are worried about having rejected Christ and his forgiveness, then you have not committed the unforgivable sin.” If you confess your sins and ask for God’s mercy then you have not committed the unforgivable sin.
You are forgiven and set free. Jesus has placed you in a house where you can be continually reassured that your sins are forgiven, each of them, all of them. He has placed you in his church.
In his church, you are not alone. Here in his church you are brothers and sisters in Christ. You are baptized into the death and resurrection of Christ himself. His blood has set your free not your own. He is your brother, you are his brothers and sisters, united by the same Spirit and having the same Father.
You are therefore Christ’s family united to him by the bond of the Holy Spirit given to you in your baptism. Such a bond is stronger than our earthly ties. Here in his church you can rest together, sing together, rejoice together, cry together, pray together, work together, confess and be forgiven together, with your brothers and sisters in Christ. By his mercy you are forgiven. By His Grace, you are his family!
In the name of Jesus, Amen!
Soli Deo Gloria