Reference

Luke 11:14-28; Ephesians 5:1-9; Psalm 4:8; Jeremiahs 26:1-15
Unity with the Stronger Man — Lent 3

In the name of the Father and of the +Son and of the Holy Spirit, Amen. 

A house divided against itself falls. (Luke 11:17) No truer words have been spoken. It is true all over the place: in politics, in nations, in families, in churches and religious communities, in wars. It is true. But the point our Lord was making was not how we might build bigger churches by unity—though unity is a blessed thing for the Church (Ps. 133:1-3)—rather, His point was this: unity with the Lord is safety. (Ps. 4:8)

For the most blessed person on earth is not our Lord’s mother who bore and nursed Him, like that woman in Gospel declared (Luke 11:27), but rather blessed are any and all who hear the word of the Lord and guard it. (Luke 11:28) Blessed are all who in unity with the Lord listen to His word and keep it, and put into action, and trust it, and fall into step with Him. 

For a strong man can guard his goods. (Luke 11:21) He can trust in His armour to keep him and all his little trophies safe. But one keeping, guarding, trusting the word of God is kept by the Man who stronger than Satan! (Luke 11:22) He is blessed by Him whose word made heaven and earth. 

So that unity with the Lord is safety. Hearing. Keeping. Loving His word. That’s the safest place on earth. Even if you are Jeremiah, sent by the Lord to call the entire church in your day—the whole of Jerusalem and kingdom of Judah—back from their apostasy. Apostasy is absolute abandonment of all the Lord says. The apostate loves the power or influence or comfort of the Church but just does not care one bit what the Lord says. But even Jeremiah, facing an entire nation that gone had rogue, could not be touched by the rulers, chief priests, by the mob surrounding him who hated what He had said, for He spoke word of the Lord. (Jer. 26:15) He guarded that treasure by speaking it. Not by hiding it under a bushel. (Matt. 5:14-16) But by letting His light shine—letting the Word of God speak forth in the hearing of all the people, though they sought his death—death at their hands was not his end. No, not at that moment. And death at their hands could not deprive Him of life anyway. For he was blessed of the Lord. (Luke 11:28) He had the word of God and He kept it as the treasure of His heart. (Matt. 6:21) As the thing He must speak. For that’s how you guard the Lord’s word. You speak it. To yourself. To the Lord. To the Church. To those around you. Because when the Word of the Lord comes to you it speaks in and to and through you. “O Lord open my lips and my mouth will declare your praise,” says the Psalmist. (ps. 51:15) And the Psalmist is speaking truly, for that’s what the word of the Lord does: it opens your mouth. 

Mary, our Lord’s mother was blessed, not because she bore Him (Luke 11:27)—though she is remembered and honoured in all generations because of this fact. She is eternally blessed because she heard the word of Lord and kept it (Luke 11:28) saying back to God’s messenger, the archangel Gabriel (Luke 1:26-27), “Let it be to me, according to your word.” (Luke 1:38) She kept that word. She delighted in it. By the power of that word, the Word of God was made flesh in her womb. (Luke 1:35-37)

And you are blessed. Not because of the great things you have done. Not because of the blessings the Lord has granted to you—such as Mary’s blessings. But because the Lord has given you His word. And in faith worked by His Holy Spirit you have guarded it, kept it, craved it, longed for that word in which is your salvation and hope. 

And when you come to the end of your days it is our Lord’s promises to you of a place reserved for you in His eternal kingdom by His innocent suffering and death on the cross that is your comfort, your hope, your salvation. Not your good deeds. Not the quality of your faith, or what a decent person you were. Only His word of promise gives peace in your last hour. But here and now His Word is your strength too. 

For His Word unites your heart. (Ps. 86:11-12) For your heart is divided. It doesn’t know what it wants half the time. Or it wants five different things all at once. Some may be decent and good, but not all. Other things your heart craves, even while true faith born of Holy Spirit is within you, are vengeance on your enemies. Not godly vengeance according to the Lord’s righteous judgement. For don’t you worry. There will be a final reckoning at the end of time where justice and mercy will be meted out. For vengeance is mine saith the Lord. (Rom. 12:19; Deut. 32:35) But you want vengeance—your vengeance. Not just penalties. Payback—of your reckoning, to those who have hurt or slighted you, or those you love. Justice is a good thing. But whose judgment is truly clear-eyed and just? Whose judgement is accurate and true? Only Him who knows all things and judges all things and sees all things. That’s why vengeance belongs to Him. That’s also why He places the sword of vengeance here on earth into the hands of governments. (Rom. 13:1, 4) For they can be dispassionate about it, not caught up in the emotions that those involved with a case would have. That is also why we MUST pray for our governments and magistrates. (1 Tim. 2:1-3) For they have a high and holy calling to exercise the Lord’s vengeance. And they dare not pervert that calling, or your world will descend into hellish chaos in the blink of an eye. 

His word guides, and unites your heart to fear His name (Ps. 86:11-12), to trust in Him for all your needs, to work at those things He gives you to do, so that this world is a safer more just, more loving place. Unity with the Lord—by His Word (Luke 11:28)—is the safest place on earth. For united to your Lord nothing can harm you. Not Satan, not his princes (Luke 11:15), not uncleanness (Eph. 5:3, 8) and the threats of the world, not even death can harm you. For united with Him—by His Word, given to you in your ears (Jer. 26:15)—you are a joint partaker with Him of all the joys of His kingdom. (Eph. 5:7) You are His light. (Eph. 5:8) For your word—His word—spoken in you and by you, is the light of the world. (John 8:12) The light no darkness can overcome. (John 1:5; 1 Jn. 1:5-7)

And His Word transforms your speech. For the more you meditate on it the more its brightness cleanses your thought patterns and habits. So that the more His Word fills you the more His Word comes out of you. Rather than the foolish talk and vile speech of our world (Eph. 5:4), the more His word dwells in you the more thanksgiving flows forth from you. (Eph. 5:4) For the greatest thanksgiving of all is to come to Church, to hear His Word, and to receive His gifts. For the Lord cheerfully gives to you just as He loves a cheerful giver. (2 Cor. 9:7) So that hearing His Word, receiving His Word, and giving forth His Word to others are all wrapped together in one. 

But any house divided on itself will become desolate. (Luke 11:17) Any heart not united by His Word to hear His Word and fear His name will be left empty. (Luke 11:24-26) For His Word fills your heart. And it pumps the life-giving hope of Jesus into your life and lives for those around you. And a desolate house, whether swept clean and put in order, or not, can be filled by way worse things than were in it before. (Luke 11:26)

And this is the way of life isn’t it? For the bad habits and temptations each of us struggle with are the armour of the demons which lurk at every corner of your life. That’s what they hide behind and use to gain a foothold in your life. And whenever you do the hard work of casting out your bad habits, lusts, desires, or vices you may feel pretty good for a while. But you always have to fill the void that is left behind. You can’t kick the words and messages of Satan out and then leave it empty. You and I are not museums or show homes, empty buildings that have show pieces in them, meant just to be looked at. We are houses meant to be lived in. (Luke 11:24-26) For a house is only a home if someone is living in it. So, your life will be lived in. It won’t just be a show piece for every one to look at and comment about how beautiful your life is. It will be lived in by good and godly desires—which flow forth in actions. Or it will be lived in by evil desires and the things that wish to take hold of you—demons who want nothing better than to make you and your life their refuge of uncleanness, filth, and wanton destruction. (Luke 11:26; Eph. 5:3-5) So when you repent of sinful behaviours, like covetousness or fornication in thought or action, you have to fill that void. Or it’ll only get worse. The demons come back. (Luke 11:24-26) So fill it up with Him who is stronger than Beezebub or Satan. (Luke 11:22) Him who kicks Satan’s minion out of your life in first place—Jesus Christ the Word of God in the flesh, who comes to us in Word, and water, in bread and wine. 

So blessed is one who hears the Word of God and guards it in faith like the valuable pearl it is. Filling your house with the treasure of Heaven—Jesus Christ the Son of God. For the Word of God is Jesus. And where Jesus is Satan can not be. So that where Jesus is there is unity. (Ps. 86:11) A united house, which will not fall. (Luke 11:17) And there you may lie and down and sleep in peace. For Jesus alone makes you dwell in safety. (Ps. 4:8)

In +Jesus’ name, Amen. 

 

—Pastor David Haberstock
Grace Evangelical Lutheran Church
Regina, SK