House of Doom?
Thursday of Pentecost 5
23 June 2016
Jesus frees the demon possessed man in Luke's Gospel ( Lk 8:26-39). He is again invading the preserve of death, a place inherently unclean. It is only here, however, that Jesus can confront the desperate need of the man who's living in such filth; reduced to scrounging out a sordid way of life, with only the dead for companions. The man is a Gentile living among a callous and uncaring Gentile people. They have forgotten his humanity in the midst of his degraded circumstances. He has been swarmed by thousands of evil spirits giving him inhuman power, shattering every human restraint. Power has corrupted him, as it does many; becoming a Gollum. But his power is not used for his own benefit but only to worsen his situation in the world. His way of life is lower than the animals. Great power can lead to great degradation.

Jesus refuses to leave His creation in such decayed and degraded circumstances. He approaches what others have tried to lock away and chain down. He comes to free the demon-possessed man from the worst slavery of all; the slavery to the evil one and his minions. Jesus is teaching us that the life worth living is life lived as a moral existence.
Our Lord still comes into the graveyard of our existences and calls us out of the tombs of the living death that we have created for ourselves. God had not intended that we should live here in his creation as a house of doom, as Martin Franzmann wrote in his hymn, O God, O Lord of Heav'n and Earth, "We housed us in this house of doom, Where death had royal scope and room, Until Thy servant, Prince of Peace, Breached all its walls for our release" (LSB, 834).

Jesus the Savior breached the walls of Satan's kingdom here in this graveyard full of Gentiles like us; giving us a foretaste of His ultimate victory over Satan with his weapon: death on the cross of Calvary and the empty tomb. The enemy has been defeated. For us all that remains is the mopping up operations of those left in the combat zone after the war has ended. The combat zone carpeted by stiffening bodies holds its own horror. The whole world remains a cemetery of those tending toward death. We have everything in common with the demon-possessed man. We live where death has royal scope and room. We live surrounded by those who are the living dead. We live where death is a constant threat; made up close and personal by the media industrial complex which shoves it in our face at every opportunity, such as in the recent tragedies in Orlando. And yet the world does not want to hear of God's solution for death and its master: Satan. Like the demon-possessed man of the Gospel we find ourselves naked and living among the dead ( Lk 8:27).

Jesus is not afraid to demand that the enemy name himself. This is the only place in the Gospels where Jesus actually speaks to the demon and gets a response. But it causes Jesus no fear. It does not deflect Him from His mission to seek and to save those who had been lost because they belonged to the kingdom of Satan.

Rev. Dr. Scott R. Murray
Memorial Lutheran Church

John Cassian

"Those possessed by unclean spirits say and do what they do not want to, and are forced to utter what they do not know. It is perfectly clear that they are not subject to the entrance of the spirits all in the same way. Some are affected by them in such a way as to have not the slightest conception of what they do and say, while others know and afterwards remember it. But we must not imagine that this is done by the pouring in of the evil spirit in such a way that it penetrates into the actual substance of the soul and, being as it were united to it and somehow clothed with it, uttering words and sayings through the mouth of the sufferer. For we ought not to believe that this can possibly be done by them. For we can clearly see that this does not result from an impairment of the soul but from weakness of the body, when the unclean spirit seizes on those bodily members in which the vigor of the soul resides, and laying on them an enormous and intolerable weight overwhelms the body with foulest darkness, and interferes with its intellectual powers. We see this sometimes happen also from the fault of wine and fever ...or other indispositions affecting men from without. It was this which the devil was forbidden to attempt to inflict on the blessed Job, though he had received power over his flesh, when the Lord commanded him saying: 'Behold, all that he has is in your hand. Only against him do not stretch out your hand' ( Job 1:12), that is, do not weaken the seat of his soul and push him into madness, and overpower the understanding and wisdom of what remains, by smothering the ruling power in his heart with your weight."

John Cassian  The Conferences
, 1.7.15
Psalm 142

With my voice I cry out to the LORD; with my voice I plead for mercy to the LORD. I pour out my complaint before him; I tell my trouble before him.
 
When my spirit faints within me, you know my way! In the path where I walk they have hidden a trap for me.  Look to the right and see: there is none who takes notice of me; no refuge remains to me; no one cares for my soul.
 
I cry to you, O LORD; I say, "You are my refuge, my portion in the land of the living."  Attend to my cry, for I am brought very low! Deliver me from my persecutors, for they are too strong for me!  Bring me out of prison, that I may give thanks to your name! The righteous will surround me, for you will deal bountifully with me.  (ESV)
Prayer
Almighty God, through our Lord Jesus Christ you rescued the demon-possessed man from the oppression of the enemy. Cast out our sin and remind us of the power of our baptism by which we have renounced sinful and shameful ways. Help us to live our lives in the dying world with the hope grounded in Your final victory over death. Amen.

For the family of Gilbert Lamberson, whose remains will be laid to rest today, that they would have confidence in the life of Christ

For Howard Smith, that he would recover fully from his surgery

For the delegates to the 66th regular convention of the LCMS, that they would prepare themselves by prayer and the Word of God
Art: Durer, Albrecht   The Adoration of the Trinity (1515) 
Memorial Lutheran Church
smurray@mlchouston.org
http://www.mlchouston.org
©  Scott Murray 2016