JESUS OVERCOMES THE STRONG MAN
Jeremiah was charged with speaking evil when he spoke the Word of the Lord (Jer. 26:1–15). So also, Jesus is accused of doing evil when in fact He is doing good. He casts out a demon from a mute man so that he is able to speak (Luke 11:14–28). But some said Jesus did this by the power of Beelzebub, Satan. Like Pharaoh of old, their hearts were hard (Ex. 8:16–24). They did not recognize the finger of God, the power of the Holy Spirit at work in and through Jesus. Jesus is the Stronger Man who overcomes the strong man. He takes the devil’s armor of sin and death and destroys it from the inside out by the holy cross. He exorcizes and frees us by water and the Word. We were once darkness, but now we are light in Christ the Lord (Eph. 5:1–9). As children of light, our tongues are loosed to give thanks to Him who saved us. In a world where demons roam we confess, “My eyes are ever toward the Lord, for He shall pluck my feet out of the net.” (Introit)
Within the liturgy for each Lord’s day, we receive the Word of God through uniquely appointed readings, psalms, hymns, and prayers. This week we will pray the Divine Service Setting One (audio of this liturgy). The following guide will help you to prepare to hear and sing the Propers, i.e. the varied texts and hymns for this week. Also, this Sunday we will be using Luther’s Christian Questions and their Answers for our confession.
Collect of the Day: O God, whose glory it is always to have mercy, be gracious to all who have gone astray from Your ways and bring them again with penitent hearts and steadfast faith to embrace and hold fast the unchangeable truth of Your Word; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
Old Testament: Exodus 8:16-24
Holy Gospel: Luke 11:14-28
Nicolaus Herman is associated with Joachimsthal in Bohemia, just over the mountains from Saxony. For many years he held the post of Master in the Latin School, and Cantor or Organist and Choirmaster in the church. Towards the end of his life he suffered greatly from gout, and had to resign even his post as Cantor a number of years before his death. This hymn was composed a year before his death with the title: “A hymn on the power of the keys and the virtue of holy absolution; for the children in Joachimsthal.”
“It was at this time that he [Philip Pusey] composed the well-known ‘Hymn of the Church Militant.’ . . . ‘It refers,’ he writes to his brother, ‘to the state of the Church’—that is to say, of the Church of England in 1834—assailed from without, enfeebled and distracted within, but on the eve of a great awakening” (Life of Edward Bouverie Pusey, by Canon Liddon, vol. i., 1893, pp. 298, 299). This hymn is described as “rather founded on the German than a translation”; but it bears too much resemblance to the German Christe, du beistand deiner Kreuzgemeine by Matthäus Apelles von Löwenstern to be regarded as entirely original.
Though not the first Danish hymn writer Kingo must be considered the first real important one.. His hymns are born by a forceful and often Old Testamental wrath and renunciation of the world, contrasted with Christian hope and confidence.
Heermann’s hymn, “Jesus, Grant that Balm and Healing” is a perfect hymn for times of temptation. The first stanza lays out the frailty of our human nature, that sin is always lurking, looking for an outlet. However, it is our prayer that we be shown its peril and kept from the sin before it even happens. However, he shows in stanza two that it is very difficult for us to keep from sin. There are many lusts and sharp temptations with “prove too strong for flesh and blood.” However, when this sin assails us, we simply remember that “Christ for me was wounded,” and in those wounds we find our full forgiveness. But Heermann reminds us that the temptation to sin doesn’t just come from the devil and our sinful nature, but it also comes from the world, enticing us to the “broad and easy road with its mirth and luring vices.” However, in those times when the world tries to lure us, we spend time in devotion on what Christ suffered for us, pushing the sin from us. In all our life, we find comfort that, “Christ’s all-atoning Passion has procured my soul’s salvation.” This gives us comfort to endure in this life because in Christ’s Passion, “Death has lost his power.” The Christ who died for us is not only our Protection, but is our “Light and Life and Resurrection.”
The theology of the cross states that God accomplishes His greatest work in the seeming weakness and foolishness of the cross. To look for God we need look no further than the cross. There we see in stark revelation the depth of His love for a fallen humanity. The subtitle on “Water, Blood, and Spirit Crying” is The Three Witnesses. One of the Scripture passages upon which this hymn text is based is 1 John 5:6-8: “This is he who came by water and blood–Jesus Christ; not by water only but by the water and the blood. And the Spirit is the one who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth. For there are three that testify: the Spirit and the water and the blood; and these three agree.” The precious means of grace–Holy Baptism, the Lord’s Supper, and the Word of God–indeed testify to all that God has done for us and for all by Christ’s death on the cross, by which He brings life to our dying world, defying and defeating death itself!
In 1523 Luther published his Formula Missæ, “The Order of Mass and Communion for the Church at Wittenberg.” Immediately Luther’s friend and coworker, Paul Speratus, made a German translation of it, which he published in January 1524. Attached to the translation was “May God Bestow on Us His Grace,” Luther’s paraphrase of Psalm 67. Luther thought of this as a sort of closing hymn. It is his only Psalm paraphrase that ends with an “Amen.” Luther’s suggested in the same that the service end with the Aaronic Benediction (“The Lord bless thee and keep thee…”) or Psalm 67:6-7, which reads: “God, our own God, shall bless us. God shall bless us, and all the ends of the earth shall fear Him.”