Reflections: 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


“When a strong man, fully armed, guards his own palace, his goods are in peace. But when one stronger than he comes upon him and overcomes him, he takes from him all his armor in which he trusted, and divides his spoils.” (Luke 11:21-22)


In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. “He is possessed by Beelzebub and by the prince of demons he casts out demons” (Mark 3:22). It’s the ultimate Old Testament insult: If you don’t like what someone says, call ‘em the devil. In the Old Testament Beelzebub was a Caananite god, the lord of the flies, the god of dung. A crass euphemism for the ruler of death. Eventually it became another name for Satan. The Scribes are accusing Jesus of being in league with the devil, like in an old country song. Problem is, that’s most illogical. Divided kingdoms don’t stand. Divided houses fall. If Satan is actually opposed to himself, then his days are over.

Jesus didn’t join the devil’s ranks. He came to defeat the devil. And it’s a good thing He did. Like Adam and Eve, we’re guilty of treason. “Fast bound in Satan’s chains we lay” (“Dear Christians, One and All, Rejoice” LSB 556, st.2). That’s why Jesus, the rightful King, lands in enemy occupied territory. Jesus comes for you. To your rescue. To save you. It’s a great invasion, and Bethlehem is the beachhead. The wilderness temptation is a key battleground and skirmishes break out all over. Demons are cast out in Capernaum, Galilee, and Gerasene. Jesus is on the move, headed toward Jerusalem and the Cross, the last battle.

Jesus dies the same way He is born: in humility and utter helplessness. “He must be crazy. So weak. How foolish,” the world cries out. But the foolishness of God is wiser than the wisest men. And the weakness of God is stronger than both men and the devil. So, this is Jesus’ battle plan: “Bind the strong man” and plunder his goods. Jesus does what we are unable and unwilling to do. Jesus the Burglar comes in human flesh, ties up the devil, storms the dragon’s lair and reclaims you, His rightful treasure. We’re the plunder the Divine Thief carries off after He’s tied up the strong man. We who were once dogs, rebels, and sinners are now Jesus’ greatest treasure in the Cross. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. 

O God, whose glory it is always to have mercy, be gracious to all who have gone astray from Your ways and bring them again with penitent hearts and steadfast faith to embrace and hold fast the unchangeable truth of Your Word; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen. (Collect for the Third Sunday in Lent)

-Rev. Samuel Schuldheisz is pastor of Beautiful Savior Lutheran Church in Milton, WA.

Audio Reflections Speaker: Rev. Duane Bamsch

Learn more about your favorite hymns and find the deeper meaning behind the text with Eternal Anthems: The Story Behind Your Favorite Hymns. The book includes devotional commentary and historical facts from forty different contributing authors on fifty different hymns. Now available from Concordia Publishing House.