The Third Sunday in Lent

Today's Reading: Luke 11:14-28

Daily Lectionary: Genesis 27:30-45; 28:10-22; Mark 9:1-13

But if I cast out demons with the finger of God, surely the kingdom of God has come upon you. (Luke 11:20)

In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. This week in Lent, give up thinking you can beat the devil. Over and over, Jesus confronted those who were possessed by demons, and, with a word, He drove those evil spirits out. The devil and sin and the Old Adam in us are not enemies we can beat on our own. They are not enemies we can beat with a little boost from God or a little help from Him. No, the battle against Satan is won only by Jesus who brings the finger of God to bear against the Father or Lies who wants to kill you.

In the Old Testament, Yahweh brought plagues against Egypt. When the flies came, the Egyptian magicians couldn't duplicate that and so they said, "This is the finger of God!" Even the magicians, in their pagan wisdom, realized they had to give up because they couldn't compete with God. That's for us to give up, too. We will never fight the devil better than Jesus has. Christ does not call us to fight the devil on our own but to share in His victory over Satan.

Jesus came into the world to cast down the power of the devil. He came to shut the Accuser's mouth so that he has nothing with which to accuse you. The devil would lay all your sins on you, but Christ has taken them on Himself. In order for the devil to address your sins, he has to deal with Jesus. And Jesus has taken those sins to Calvary and paid for them by His shed blood and death. The devil is robbed of his power to accuse you.

Now, when the devil should tempt and annoy you, throw your sins in your face, and try to heap despair upon you, you can give up trying to overcome him yourself. Rather, you can throw in his face the promise of your baptism, the "not guilty" of your Absolution, and the Body and Blood of Jesus you have been given. He must deal with your Savior, not you. And your Savior Jesus has put Satan in his place. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.

We implore You, almighty and merciful Father, to look upon the hearty desires of Your humble servants and stretch forth the right hand of Your majesty to be our defense against all our enemies; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. (Collect for Lent 3)

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