Some say reality is black and white
Most say reality is a gray area, while the rest who are offended by gray say reality is many colors.
They say life is what you make it. They say reality is an illusion. In order to justify your corrupt desires, you are willing to order and reorder reality as you see fit; red, yellow, black, white, whatever.
In today’s Gospel reading, Jesus tells you of one reality with two kingdoms: a divided kingdom and a unified kingdom.
In the divided kingdom, there is peace. There is peace because everyone wants the same thing: to be king, but there is only one king: ba’alzebub. Even though you know this, you still struggle to make the best of things. You still work hard and do our duty, even though nothing in life changes. As a result, we make motivation posters.
In this peaceful, divided kingdom demons are seen as heroes, right is wrong, and down is up; and it is in this kingdom that you dwell. In the First part of the Gospel, Jesus shows that a kingdom divided can not stand, implying that the devil and his kingdom are not as divided as you think.
In the second part, Jesus reveals what a
united kingdom looks like. That;
even if it is swept and put in order, it may be more evil than you realize. And
it is more evil in this way: to you, an upright citizen, a man who works hard,
earns his living, and makes his own way is someone to be praised.
More than that, he is someone to be imitated. He is someone you want in your club or church because you know he will be a pillar of support. He will always give, he will always volunteer, and he will always be an example.
This is the world we live in. Jesus says it is one way. You say it is another. In your sin, you are incapable of making sound judgment calls according to the Faith. Since the Fall, there is not the least spark of spiritual power remaining or present, in anyone.
Because of all this, Jesus does come to do harm to this kingdom. He comes to spoil the strong man. He has not come solely to cast out demons, but to banish them forever. He has not come to give everyone a turned-around-life, but to bring true life. He has not come to bring peace, but a sword to this kingdom.
This sword falls upon sin, death, and the devil. Even upon you, for you are sin’s servant and the devil’s captive. In your sin, you do the devil’s will by casting judgment on Jesus and saying that He does things in a false way.
Jesus comes to attack and in your sin you are certain it is against you. As Jesus approaches, the fear of punishment rises and also the distaste of perceived injustice in your mouth. You watch Him, waiting for Him to trip up, and see Him mount the cross.
At last! You say. He is going to come to an end and you will no longer have to deal with His persecution and His holier than thou talk. But in the crucifixion and resurrection, the tables are turned. The Holy Spirit waters and gives growth to what Christ had planted by His Gospel and a realization comes.
The realization that the devil, sin, and death have been the enemies this entire time, not you. You have been so concerned with who’s doing what and how well it looks to others that you missed the picture completely. But, because your sinful nature is strong and active only to do what is displeasing to God, Christ is strong and active to destroy and regenerate that nature.
This new, holy nature is not something to be prepared for or for you to accept. It is a whole and complete gift given through Jesus. It is a gift prepared in the flesh, purchased and won in the flesh, and given, you guessed it, in the flesh. This means that in the midst of your sin and this divided kingdom, Jesus gives His gifts in Word and Sacrament.
Dear Christians, the grace of God has already appeared. The storms may gather and the armies of hell may be unfurling hateful banners, but your captain has already taken the field, is holding the field, and you along with it.
Let’s make no mistake, we are all sorely oppressed by demons, despite what things look like. We all are possessed for the signs of possession are not just evil things, but sin against God. It is not just murder, greed, and inhumanity that make a person evil, but a wrong heart towards God. A right heart towards God only comes through suffering.
The suffering, death, and resurrection of Jesus clears the smog. In a backwards way Jesus becomes a criminal, pays for sin, and leads the devil captive. Deep guile and great might may be the devil’s work to fool us, but Jesus is not fooled. Jesus knows that His Word is true and that His sacraments offer the promises of God to you , for free.
Your mind and heart are of the flesh and are stuck there. You can no more see inside of a man than you can run through solid concrete. All you get is the front they put up and God help you if you make the wrong decision about someone.
But whether we recognize evil or it pulls a fast one over us all the time; our true and only hope is in Christ and His Word. It is there we hear only of Him and His deeds done for us. It is there that we hear of forgiveness and salvation given by water, bread, and wine. It is in the Word where we hear of the stronger man overcoming the strong man, gaining us as the spoils.
Where the world and our corrupt nature want us in ignorance of the person, words, and works of Christ, the Spirit wills the opposite. Where earthly comforts flee and fail, the Church stands forever as the place where the Gospel is preached in its purity and the Sacraments administered according to it.
Jesus is what makes the church holy. Jesus is what makes you holy. His gifts are what will stand up to the gates of hell and His promises are what will outlast any sustained effort of works on our or the devil’s part. It is not us. It is not from us. It is Jesus. And it is from Jesus.
The reality is that it is all about Jesus. Whether what He does feels right or wrong to you, He is always right. Not that He is showing off, but that He’s doing it all for you. The reality is that we can not trust our own senses, but in Faith, we trust the Word of God.