Fourth Sunday after Pentecost [Proper 9, c] July 7, 2019
1 After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them on ahead of him, two by two, into every town and place where he himself was about to go. 2 And he said to them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest. 3 Go your way; behold, I am sending you out as lambs in the midst of wolves. 4 Carry no moneybag, no knapsack, no sandals, and greet no one on the road. 5 Whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace be to this house!’ 6 And if a son of peace is there, your peace will rest upon him. But if not, it will return to you. 7 And remain in the same house, eating and drinking what they provide, for the laborer deserves his wages. Do not go from house to house. 8 Whenever you enter a town and they receive you, eat what is set before you. 9 Heal the sick in it and say to them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’ 10 But whenever you enter a town and they do not receive you, go into its streets and say, 11 ‘Even the dust of your town that clings to our feet we wipe off against you. Nevertheless know this, that the kingdom of God has come near.’ 12 I tell you, it will be more bearable on that day for Sodom than for that town. 13 Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the mighty works done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago, sitting in sackcloth and ashes. 14 But it will be more bearable in the judgment for Tyre and Sidon than for you. 15 And you, Capernaum, will you be exalted to Heaven? You shall be brought down to Hades. 16 The one who hears you hears me, and the one who rejects you rejects me, and the one who rejects me rejects him who sent me.” 17 The seventy-two returned with joy, saying, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in your name!” 18 And he said to them, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from Heaven. 19 Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall hurt you. 20 Nevertheless, do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are written in Heaven.”
In the Name of Jesus.
“I saw Satan fall like lightening from Heaven,” says our Lord.
Satan, our old evil foe. He who was created good and holy, created to bear light from Heaven to Adam and Eve, who brought himself, though, into evil so that, instead of bringing to Adam and Eve the good gift of the Lord’s Word, brought that Word twisted and perverted, knotted in deceit, bringing Adam and Eve into his kingdom of the lie and death—Satan, see him fall!
The devil, created to be the bearer of light, stationed at the Throne in Heaven to bring the conversation of Heaven to men and women on Earth, who, in his fall took many other angels with him, so that they, too, became unclean spirits, he who testifies in our consciences, using the Word of God not to cleanse our consciences with God’s gifts, but twisting God’s Word to sting our consciences and pollute them with guilt and shame—Satan, see him fall!
Satan, our old evil foe. He testifies against us in Heaven. He testifies in our consciences to condemn us, to lock us under the Law.
His fall—it’s when Jesus, bearing our sin, standing in our place, goes into the wilderness to withstand Satan’s every temptation on our behalf. His fall is Jesus sending out the disciples to proclaim the Gospel, to forgive sins, and to cast out the unclean angels, giving the sinner a cleansed conscience.
Satan’s fall: it is ultimately and fully when Jesus bears our sins to the cross, when he willingly gives himself over to ransom us from sin, death, and the devil, when he prays to his Father on our behalf, “Father, forgive them, they do not know what they do”—Satan’s fall is when Jesus releases us from the condemnation and frees us from the devil.
Satan’s fall: we will see it on the Last Day, when Jesus returns again to judge the living and the dead. There, at that courtroom of the Last Day, we will see Jesus in the flesh, we will be brought into eternal life in our own resurrected bodies, and even our voices will turn to Satan and all his demons to judge them, to condemn them to the eternal prison.
We will see with our own eyes the fall of Satan and his demons in its fullness, in its final completion, on the Last Day. But we now see it by faith.
By faith, we see the cross, even though we were not there, knowing that his cross is our Lord ransoming us and making us his own.
By faith, we cling to the promise bestowed in Baptism, knowing that in that pledge from God, we are his children, he our Father.
By faith, we take the wine and the bread Jesus has made holy by his Word, knowing that in, with, and under this bread and wine, Jesus is giving himself to us in his wholeness, the fullness of his Body and Blood given us for the forgiveness of our sin.
By faith, we know that the condemnation of the Law is over. While the Law still accuses, and as long as we are in our sinful flesh, it must accuse, at the same time, in our life of faith, the condemnation of the Law is over.
By faith, we know that the voice of the accuser, of Satan, is overtaken by the voice of Jesus, who in Heaven intercedes for us and justifies us before his Father.
By faith, as we look upon our fellow Christians, our brothers and sisters who belong to Christ, we hear the words of the Apostle:
Brothers, as anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.
The Apostle gives us to “to restore a fellow Christian in a spirit of gentleness.” The word Paul uses for “restore” is the same word used for mending nets. Mark 1:19:
When he had gone a little farther, [Jesus] saw James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, who also were in the boat mending their nets.
We are given to look upon our fellow Christians, those afflicted by the devil, those being tempted into sin, those locked in guilt under the Law, we are given to look upon them as those to mend and care for, as a fisherman mending a torn net.
“Mend them,” says Paul, “in a spirit of gentleness.” This word “gentleness”—it is a favorite word of Paul’s. It is to act toward someone not from a position of power or compulsion, it is not a word of coercion, but it is to act toward them from lowliness and humility. Not to exert control, but to bestow gifts.
Paul’s word of gentleness, it is the same Greek word used of Jesus when he rides into Jerusalem on the back of a donkey. Matthew 21:5:
“Behold, your King is coming to you, Lowly, and sitting on a donkey, A colt, the foal of a donkey.”
Our fellow Christians afflicted by the devil, tempted, loaded down under the heavy burden of the Law? We are given to come to them gentle and lowly, as our Lord humbly riding into Jerusalem on a donkey’s back.
“Bear one another’s burdens,” says Paul. [Galatians 6:2]
We are given to look at one another, then, as those loaded down with burdens. The burden of temptation, the burden of falling to sin, the burden of the fear of death, the burden of the accusation of the Law, these are burdens of our sinful flesh, from which we cannot free ourselves.
We bear one another’s burdens as we see each other as sinners, but as sinners ransomed by the blood of Christ. As we see ourselves as those whose boasting is in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to us, and we to the world. [Galatians 6:14]
We bear one another’s burdens as we build one another up in the Gospel of all sins forgiven in Christ Jesus, as we comfort one another with our Lord’s Word of the justification of the sinner, and we encourage one another with the knowledge that though we are now afflicted and tempted by the devil, our Lord Jesus has seen him fall like lightening from Heaven, and though we do not see this now with our eyes of flesh, we do see it with our eyes of faith.
And on the Last Day, when the eyes of our resurrected bodies are looking upon our Lord Jesus, we, too, with our own voices, will judge Satan, and we, along with our Lord Jesus, will see the fall of Satan from Heaven.
In the Name of Jesus.