Let us pray: Dear Savior, as we walk toward Your manger, keep us strong in the Spirit! Work in each of us a humbleness of faith such as John the Baptist possessed. For then we won’t throw off Your armor of light. Amen
GRACE MERCY AND PEACE ARE YOURS FROM CHRIST, THE COMING CHRISTMAS KING!
TEXT: Mark 1: 1-8 and I Peter 1:10-12: “Concerning this salvation, the prophets, who spoke of the grace that was to come to you, searched intently and with the greatest care, trying to find out the time and circumstances to which the Spirit of Christ in them was pointing when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow. It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves but you, when they spoke of the things that have now been told you by those who preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven. Even the angels long to look into these things.”
Fellow Redeemed In The Promised Savior:
People have a lot of misconceptions about Satan and his fellow demons, which cause them all sorts of consternation. So, let’s start to set the record straight. One, all demons were created angels who used their free will to rebel against God. Two, that means that none of them possess the qualities of God, that is, they are not all-knowing, all powerful, or everywhere present. They have limitations. Three, demons are cut-off from God’s goodness and wisdom. Hence, their arrogance has blinded them to His holy ways. And four, as Peter points out in the above text, even the good angels don’t completely understand the extent of God’s love (they long to look into these things), so to the demons God’s loving way of salvation is a complete mystery which confounds them.
With those thoughts in mind, I want to spend a little time today looking at the Mark text from a new perspective. And this insight is refreshing and comforting to us as we struggle to grow in our appreciation of the Blessed Babe. Yes, never, ever, forget that:
HUMILITY FOOLS SATAN AND KEEPS GOD’S PEOPLE SAFE!
St. Peter wrote the words of his epistle. He also dictated to his protégé, Mark, the words of our Gospel. And in that Gospel, Peter takes us back to ancient times. The times of Isaiah the prophet. He quotes from the 40th chapter of Isaiah’s book, which contains prophecy about both John the Baptist and Christ, Himself.
Before we recount the comfort of this prophecy, we need to ponder how it was all designed to fool Satan. If there is one thing the devil is not, it is humble. He is an arrogant fool, as evidenced by his rebellion against God in the mists of time. He has no conception of humility. He knows God only as a force to be reckoned with and feared. One Who bluntly speaks and bluntly condemns all sin. As Peter says, even the good angels don’t fully comprehend God’s innate love and forgiving spirit. How much less do demons who have been consigned to hell?
So, to prevent Satan from thwarting His will in saving souls, God fooled Satan. He fooled him in the Old Testament, as in the book of Isaiah, by speaking in prophecies. These mysterious words about a messenger who would not come in pomp and majesty—like Satan expected—threw the devil off track and helped protect John. Likewise, God causing John to be born of the little-known Zechariah and Elizabeth and growing up in a backwater town in Galilee, were designed to throw Satan off the scent. And they worked, didn’t they?
Then, we have God taking John out into the desert, away from the flash and glamour of what the devil expected, and schooling him One-on-one in the desert. Thereby God could protect him all the more. And when we view both John’s plain clothes and his austere message of: repentance, well, the devil would never use either to win converts, so why would he expect God to use them?
Satan is called in Scripture the “prince of lies.” Indeed, he is. He always tries to hood-wink people by appealing to human pride. He doesn’t understand humility one little bit. It’s a complete mystery to him. So, God used that fact against him. By the Spirit’s power He built up a man, a forerunner to the Messiah, Who would break down and destroy human pride with humility and forgiving love. God even so turned John’s heart so that he could utter those words which totally confounded the demons: “After me will come one more powerful than I, the thongs of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. I baptize you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.” Yes, you can imagine the anarchy in hell when one of the lesser demons ran in and told the devil and his consorts of such a humility-filled human! What was God up to? How could this be? A mere mortal who really believed such things? It all flew in the face of evil. It must have turned their world upside down.—Or maybe just down, deeper into the throes of arrogance.
Isaiah wrote many mysterious things. God used such prophecy as a way to throw Satan off track when it came to saving our souls. Peter tells us that God’s holy people throughout history have pondered these prophecies, wondered at them, and gained tremendous comfort from them. For they reveal to us the side of God Satan does not and cannot see. The kind, loving, and forgiving side of our Creator. The fact that God’s prophecies of a Savior sent from heaven Who willingly die for lost sinners is hard for human pride to fathom. It’s even harder for demonic pride to figure out. How God must have laughed when He got Isaiah to write: “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are My ways, your ways,’ declares the Lord.” Surely, such words were and are a mystery to the devil. But not to us. For in Christ we have seen them revealed. In John’s preparing Christ’s way, we have seen them revealed. So, to us, they are comforting. They are the truth that sets us free!
Humility and forgiveness are intertwined. They go hand-in-hand. You cannot have one without the other. And when humble hearts come to realize that God did the seemingly impossible and sent His eternal Son to die in order to save them, such forgiveness is sweet beyond all measure. That’s why as Mark writes: “the whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem went out to John.” They went to confess their sins.—Something Satan knows nothing about. They went to be cleansed through the coming forgiveness of Christ.—Again, something Satan could not comprehend.
Today, God continues to fool Satan and keep His people, you, safe. How? Not with armies, nuclear weapons, or monetary wealth. Not with coercion, or brute force. These are things Satan understands. No, God uses what Satan doesn’t understand, things that he views as useless and worthless, to keep us safe: His Holy Word of forgiveness, and His blessed Sacraments which apply that forgiveness directly to our hearts. With that in mind, continue your walk to manger in confidence and joy. For it is through the meek, the mild, the lowly, the simple things that God continues to keep your safe. Yes, God humbles the proud, and exalts the humble. Amen