Third Sunday in Lent

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Ephesians 5: 1- 14 Luke 11: 14-28

In our Gospel today we see Jesus confronted by the religious leaders of his time. Let us remember that the confrontation will build up all the way to the cross. The objective of today’s text is to present Jesus defining the Nature and Power of His mission and His Kingdom. The final destination of his mission is Jerusalem. The starting point of his kingdom is Jerusalem.  One might think that Jesus was so busy that he would not have time for anyone except for his disciples. But Jesus was never so busy that he would ignore those who needed his help.  In our Gospel he stopped and delivered the demon-possessed man. Think about this man’s condition. Because he could speak, he had no confidence in himself. He felt dumb, lost and useless. People looked down on him and even said that he was cursed by God. He felt lonely and ignored.

The purpose of the healing

This healing, alike many other exorcisms in the Bible, is to testify that Jesus is the Messiah as prophesied long ago. It was to give hope and joy to the helpless and rejected of the world. The Book of Acts gives us three reasons to divine healing: Jesus is THE Healer, Healing comes from Jesus alone, and the purpose of healing is to glorify God.

Jesus knew that by meeting a physical need, healing, he would be able to talk about his greater mission: to bring salvation to soul.

The people who witnessed the healing event of our gospel were amazed. But some religious leaders will challenge Jesus about the power he used to deliver the man.

The power of Jesus

Let’s get to the name Beelzebub. The history of this name goes way back into the Old Testament. The Canaanites worshipped a god named Baal with all sorts of combinations of the name. Beelzebub means “lord the exalted one”, or something related to that. We derive our English translation from the Latin which means “lord if the flies”.

Jesus challenges this evil logic with a logic that governs every house or kingdom: “If any kingdom is divided against itself, it is ruined, and a house divided against itself falls”. Think about a couple, when husband and wife are fighting each other or working to achieve opposite goals, they most of the time end up in divorce. That’s just how Satan, the enemy operates. He is always trying to divide people. People are tied up by all kinds of lusts; sexual lust, lust for power, lust for money, lust for worldly things, lust for drugs, alcohol, pornography, etc. Satan has us bound by fear; fear of death, fear of tomorrow. He works through culture, family, friends, and the church. But when we submit to the authority of Jesus, we are more than conquerors of all his plans and devices.

To overcome Satan

Jesus points out the strategy to overcome the plans and devices of Satan. “When a strong man, fully armed, guards his own house, his possessions are safe”. It is clear that whoever wants to rob that house must first disarm the strong man, destroy his weapons, overpower him and subdue him. Jesus has the power and authority to disarm, defeat, break down the power of Satan. Jesus has come to set us free from the hand of the enemy. No longer do we have to be controlled by lust of any kind. But we must make the decision to work with him. “He who is not with Me is against me, and He who does not gather with me, scatters”, he said. The appropriate answer to that statement is the one Paul gives:

“For if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by confessing with your mouth that you are saved” (Romans 10:9-10).

The best way we can overcome Satan and be free from his lusts is to participate in the activities God has initiated in our church during this lent season. We have daily evening prayer, Monday-Tuesday-Wednesday. We have recitation of the stations of Cross every Friday. I encourage you to take advantage of those moments of divine encounter. They are also the tools that God is willing to use to set us free from the attacks of Satan.

Mary is great, she is blessed, and she will be called blessed forever, because she submitted to God’s plan for her life. She chose to obey God and submit to Him. Jesus was her Lord. She lived a life of obedience. That’s the words and attitude that will keep us free in Christ and blessed. Can we submit to God like Mary did and can we say, “I am the Lord’s servant and I am willing to accept whatever He wants.”? These are all choices that we must make.

Along with the unnamed woman in the crowd, I pray that all of us breathe a sigh of relief knowing that we are blessed as we continue to listen to God’s Word and hold on to our Savior’s promises even in the midst of our sins and failures.