Breaking and Entering – 6-5-24

You can listen to this reflection here. Sunday’s gospel reading is here

Tips on breaking and entering from Jesus of Nazareth? Not quite – but he does have a few thoughts on the most effective way to break into someone’s house: “…no one can enter a strong man’s house and plunder his property without first tying up the strong man; then indeed the house can be plundered.”
Remember, he is disputing a charge that the power by which he casts out demons is itself demonic. He says that’s ridiculous – that a house divided cannot stand. In fact, he says, “And if Satan has risen up against himself and is divided, he cannot stand, but his end has come.” 

II’m confused. Wasn’t the point of Jesus’ mission to put an end to Satan’s power? I don’t think Jesus is saying that has already happened; he is predicting his course, asserting that Satan is not divided – Satan is single-mindedly focused on evil and gets stronger with each victory. Therefore Jesus will “tie up the strong man.” And that is what Christians claim Jesus accomplished – a definitive conquest over the forces of evil.

So… why doesn’t it seem like Satan is bound at all? Why does it seem like the Enemy of Human Nature still has free run of the place, tempting, corrupting, degrading, destroying life?

That’s probably the hardest question asked of Christians. Don’t all our claims of Easter Life crash against the reality of evil still running amok in our world? Traditional apologists have likened Christ’s victory to D-Day, and the time we live in to the period between D-Day, when Axis forces were defeated, and V.E. Day, when all the battles had ended and peace was declared. That analogy has some legs.

There is also the matter of free will. Yes, Jesus vanquished the destroyer – and each and every person still must choose and exercise free will.  No one has it decided for her. The difference for us on this side of the Cross is that the choice is simpler. When we are faced with temptation to be less than who God made us to be, or when we fear evil is stronger than God, we need only remember that Jesus HAS tied up the strong man.

A person single-mindedly focused on his mission will always have more power than one who is ambivalent or unsure or wavering. Evil, personified in the name Satan, has power because he is wholly committed to destruction, to drawing people away from God. When we are equally clear about our commitment to God in Christ, to good, to love, those chains Jesus already put on him get tighter and tighter. We can not only resist evil ourselves; we can also free those whom evil has bound. That’s the work of justice and peacemaking.

We don’t have to fight or bind the evil one – that’s done. We need only stand firm on what Jesus has already done and tell evil to get lost. We can do that in personal crises – just say, “Oh yeah, Jesus already won this battle. Come, Lord Jesus…”  And what might change in the horrors that afflict our world if we were to face those crises the same way, if we were to come together in faith, pray, “Come, Lord Jesus,” and focus single-mindedly on Love? That’s plundering the strong man’s house. Evil wouldn’t stand a chance.

© Kate Heichler, 2024. To receive Water Daily by email each morning, subscribe hereHere are the bible readings for next Sunday. Water Daily is also a podcast – subscribe to it here on Apple, Spotify or your favorite podcast platform.

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