Lent 3 2014

St. Luke 11:14-28
23 March 2014  (edited from 2010/2002)

In the Name of the Father and of the +Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

The demon had closed the man’s mouth. Then the Lord cast out the demon. His mouth was open.

But it would seem to our fallen reason as though the Word made Flesh, who cannot lie, who is the Truth, would have preferred to keep man’s deceitful mouth shut. But He does not. He gives a voice to sinners, liars, and slanderers. And what is the crowd’s response to this miracle? Assume the worst. Since He cast out a demon, He must be in league with the devil.

The Psalmist declares: “All men are liars.” All men betray God, themselves, and their neighbors. They try to serve themselves but they fail because lies, slander, and all manner of evil speech hurts the soul. No weapon is so terrible, wreaks such havoc, or inflicts such terror and destruction as the tongue. And how shameful, proud, and insufferable we are in our words! Our words, since they show what is in our hearts, are worse than our actions.

That is why we cuss and swear so much. We want to be strong, tough, and fearless so we speak like idiots. We use words without meaning and think this is power. It comes easy to us because we are practiced in deceit. We speak with vulgarity because we are vulgar, because we are dirty, because we are stupid. We are a people of unclean lips and our speech, our choice of words, shows that our hearts are deceitful above all things and desperately wicked. We are the descendants of Adam, in league with the devil, the father of lies.

Why then would God Incarnate free a liar’s tongue? Why cast out the demon? The Word made Flesh, Christ, Our Lord, God Himself, of all the things that He is, is no diplomat. He does not look the other way or chuckle because we’ve said a dirty word. He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. He opens eyes, ears, and mouths by the power of His stern Word, even as He calls to repentance and drives out money changers, even as He insists that our yes be yes and our no be no.  He loosens the tongues of evil men because He came to cast out demons. He came to reclaim mankind for Himself. He came to speak the Truth that gives a new voice to sinners who could not before speak or who could only utter lies. He does it not from some generic sense of pity or general warm feeling He holds toward humanity in abstract, but He does it knowing full well the cost, that men will take Him for granted, preach false doctrine in His Name, lie, curse, swear, and the so forth. He does it because as stern as He is, He is perfect love and He gives of Himself without complaint. He loves the unlovable and unworthy.

He interferes not because of who they are but because of who He is. He will not stay out. It is His business. And He will not go away and ignore us, leaving us in our lies. He probes, painfully. He points, awkwardly. He exposes our weakness and death, our cooperation with demons. He confronts us and shames us for the stupid, vulgar way we have spoken. He creates division. Some are for Him. Some are against Him. No one dare ignore Him.

But He also, wonderfully, beautifully, graciously drives away the forces of darkness that pollute our minds and seek to shut us down. He purifies the once-lying lips of men. He opens them and gives them something to say, something to sing, and something to confess.

When can a liar tell the truth? Only when he says, “I am a liar.” That is the truth. That truth pleases God. It is a good confession. By grace, when we confess our sins, we tell the truth and God is pleased and it is good for us. In the same way, when we confess, by grace, that Jesus is our Lord, who has redeemed us, we are telling the truth. God is pleased and it is good for us.

The Psalmist said in his haste that all men are liars. It is true, they are. But he was hasty, because there is a way out. Take the Cup of Salvation and call upon the Name of the Lord. Use that voice for good. There is a purifying coal that cleanses the lips of the men. The Lamb has been consumed in His Father’s wrath upon the Altar. Eat that. Eat Him. By His Body He makes men into singers with the seraphim. The Lamb slain from the foundation of the world has satisfied the Law. He has spoken the Truth that breaks false bonds, that looses tongues for praise, that enables confession. Man fell into sin by eating forbidden fruit. God would make men His own again by giving them something better to eat: Himself. In this way, He purifies lips and makes sons of God out of the daughters of men. He gives a voice to the dumb that they might call upon Him, sing His praise, and confess His Name.

And if men will not, if they will but preach to itchy ears, give campaign speeches appealing to the flesh, if they will but tell lies about God to make themselves look better, or curse and swear and carry on in the vain attempt to look as though they do not care or have some power, then He will raise up praise from these stones. The song of God’s love will not be stopped. No Church bureaucrat, no self-serving committee, no hostile voters’ assembly; neither any vain supervisor, ambitious co-worker, or incompetent teacher; no judge, jury, or army of men or demons, nothing, not even your own broken hearts, will stop this song. The deaf will hear God’s Word. You will hear God’s Word. The blind will see His grace. You will see His grace. And the dumb will sing His praise. That means you. And, finally, the demons will be sent packing and you will be free, free to sing, to thank, and to praise.

To accomplish this, to fulfill the Mission of His Father, the Son lays down His life upon Calvary’s high Altar. They murder Him, the only one who ever told the Truth, and who is the Turth, with the false charges that He was a blasphemer. His mouth stays shut while His body lies dead in the grave, while Caiaphas and Pilate keep on lying and demons roam the earth. But then He rose. That holy mouth opened again. Is He angry? Does He come for vengeance? What does He say? He says, “Do not be afraid. Peace be with you. The demons cannot have you. I have given you a voice to sing, sing with Me and with My angels. I have given you a mouth to eat and drink. Eat My Body. Drink My Blood. Take the Cup of the Salvation. Call upon Me. I am coming back.”

In +Jesus’ Name. Amen.

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