St. Michael and All Angels 2021
Opening Sermon for DMin Project
September 29, 2021
Zion Lutheran Church + Nampa, ID
Let us pray. Everlasting God, You have ordained and constituted the service of angels and men in a wonderful order. Mercifully grant that, as Your holy angels always serve and worship You in heaven, so by Your appointment they may also help and defend us here on earth; through Your Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
Grace, mercy, and peace to you from God our Father and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.
The seventy-two had been sent out in Jesus’ name, two by two, in the midst of wolves. They were to go house by house declaring “Peace be to this house!” Jesus told them, “And if a son of peace is there, your peace will rest upon him. But if not, it will return to you.” They were to heal the sick and declare that the kingdom of God has come near (Luke 10:1-12). Now we hear in our Gospel reading for today how they returned with joy, for as they do what Christ has commanded and sent them to do, even the demons were subject to them in Jesus’ name!
Think about that for a moment. Even the demons were subject to them. But not just to them and because of them, but in Jesus’ name because that is where the authority comes from. It comes from Jesus, the One who sends the disciples out to go into the homes of God’s people and proclaim, “Peace be to this house!” And when that happens, even demons hear the name of Christ and tremble. In the very preaching of the Gospel, the kingdom of God is becoming a present reality and the kingdom of Satan defeated. The kingdom of God invades the devil’s domain as Christ Himself snatches people out of the jaws of hell! This is exactly what still happens here and now when the Word of God is proclaimed in the name of Jesus.
Tonight, we pause to think about this whole invisible world that the Bible reveals is going on around us. Tonight, on the Feast of St. Michael and All Angels, we give thanks to God for His angels who wield the word of God on our behalf. And we are reminded who the real enemy is. St. Paul says in Ephesians 6, “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12). Behind the Church’s earthly opponents stand demonic forces. But also alongside God’s church on earth stands the angelic host of heaven.
We are encouraged by the presence and protection of St. Michael and the holy angels, by the authority of Christ, they are sent by God Himself to guard and keep us in body and soul. These heavenly servants of God preserve His human messengers on earth, the ministers of “the blood of the Lamb,” against all the power of the enemy.
Consider our reading from the book of Revelation. This is the fall of Satan of which Jesus speaks (Luke 10:18). War breaks out in heaven. Michael and his angels fight with Satan, and against other angels who followed this dragon. And what are the weapons of this war in the heavens? They are words. Satan and his demons fight by using words of deception, lies, and untruths. It’s the same tactic that the devil used against Adam and Eve. It’s the same tactic that the devil used against Jesus in the wilderness. It’s the same tactic that the devil uses against you. St. Michael fights in similar manner, using words, but not just any words, but speaking the words of Truth.
But Michael doesn’t just happen to speak what is true against the lies of the devil. He speaks the Truth who is the very Word, the Lamb of God, who shed His blood upon the cross and is raised from the dead never to die again. “And they [Michael and his angels] conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and the word of their testimony” (Revelation 12:11). Remember, angels literally means a messenger. The angels serve God by being His messengers. Angels speak God’s words. They don’t act of themselves. That’s what we see in Revelation as words fly back and forth in that war between good and evil, between demonic and angelic forces, between lies and the truth, between Satan and the angel Michael. Words are their weapons of war. By this Word, St. Michael and the angels overcome the lies and the misleading words of the Devil. This Truth that Michael speaks is united to the One who is the Truth, Jesus Christ. And it’s that Truth—joined to the One who is the Truth—that undoes the lies of the father of lies. Upon the cross, as the devil screams in delight at the death of the Son of God, the heavens and all who dwell in them rejoice! For the blood of the Lamb conquers all sin, overthrows death, and crushes the head of Satan.
While the devil continues to rage, he continues in his lies even until today, it will not last forever. Satan and his wicked angels have been thrown out of heaven and have come down to earth “in great wrath, because he knows that his time is short” (Revelation 12:12). Make no mistake, he is still dangerous. As a Christian, the devil takes special interest in you. The devil is stubborn, and prideful, and will not go down without a fight. You are surrounded by him and the other angels who followed his path of rebellion. But the devil and his angels aren’t just thrown out of heaven, they are thrown out of God’s Church. Because God’s Church is where heaven comes down to earth. For in the preaching of the Gospel, the kingdom of heaven comes down and invades this land that the devil desires have as his own. The kingdom of heaven comes to you. God’s peace has come to your house by His divine blessing.
Peace be to this house! For you are beloved of God. The war is won in Christ, yet the battle for your eternal soul rages. The devil and his angels, the evil of the world, and your sinful flesh are conquered only by the blood of the Lamb and the Word of God. These are the weapons of war. When you eat and drink the body and blood of Christ at the Lord’s Table, Christ’s victory over sin, death, and the power of the devil is delivered to you. When you hear the Word of Christ, read the Bible, sing the hymns, pray God’s Word, you engage the enemies of Christ as people whose names are written in heaven. Hidden in this Word is the power of God Himself. It is Word of God empowered by His Spirit, believed and spoken in faith. It is this Word that created the heavens and the earth and all that dwell in them, including the angels. It is this Word, as the Psalmist declares that commands His angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways (Psalm 91:11). It is this Word that declares you righteous and holy and justified in God’s sight for the sake of Jesus Christ, and an heir of God’s eternal kingdom. It is this Word that drives back the devil from your lives, whose accusations of sin can no longer stick.
“So when the devil throws your sins in your face and declares that you deserve death and hell, tell him this: ‘I admit that I deserve death and hell, what of it? For I know One who suffered and made satisfaction on my behalf. His name is Jesus Christ, Son of God, and where He is there I shall be also!’” (Martin Luther) So rejoice, O people of God, for your names are written in heaven by the very word of God. God’s peace to be to your house in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.