Cruce Tectum

Cruce tectum, hidden under the cross, a blog for Epiphany Lutheran Church, Dorr, Michigan

Location: Moscow, Idaho

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Forde on Mark 1:24

"There is an old proverb that says that the demons can't see you until you look at them, and when you do, they've got you. That is, the more you talk about them, the more likely you are to be fascinated by them and start seeing them all around -- most likely, of course, in other people. Every now and then we read tragic stories about people -- usually religious people -- who have become convinced that their children are demon-possessed and undertake to beat the demons out of them. But then, you see, the demons win after all. They can't see you until you look at them, and then they've got you! We can't win that battle; we can't fight them with our weapons. As another old proverb has it, if you try to cut a demon in two with your sword, you only produce two more of them.

"Or we might, on the other hand, try to convince ourselves that there is no such thing anymore. After all, enlightenment and science, and so on, have banished the demons and unclean spirits. But can we really rest assured on such teaching? Does it have authority? As we look about in the world, can we be so convinced that there is not something terribly wrong? As it has been put, the devil's cleverest trick it to get us to believe he doesn't exist. Indeed, that is precisely what he wants. For then he would have everything to himself. If no one suspects he is there, he has already won. In another place Jesus said that when the unclean spirit has gone out of a person it passes over waterless places seeking rest. When it finds none, it decides to return to the old home, and finding the house empty and swept clean, it goes and gets seven more demons more evil than itself, and settles in once again. And so the last state of such a person is worse than the first. Why is that? Because now the man doesn't even know they are there! We may try to convince ourselves there is no such thing about. We may try to empty the house and sweep it clean, but an empty house is a dangerous thing. There is no unoccupied territory in this cosmic battle. No, our talk, our teaching, cannot help us here. It has no authority. One way or another we can only lose...

"But if that is so, how shall such darkness be dispelled? In our text the question from the darkness can only be answered by the light, the commanding voice that gives no argument, no teaching as such -- the voice of authority and so of new life. 'Be silent,' Jesus said, 'and come out of him.'... The darkness knows it can't live with the light. The situation is desperate enough so that [the light] cannot be our friend without first being our enemy. The road to life can only lead through death. But in Jesus it does lead to life. 'Whoever would save his life shall lose it; whoever loses his life for my sake shall find it.' We shall find it. To be baptized, Paul says, is to be baptized into the death of Christ so as to be raised with him. That is why baptism is exorcism. We shall be raised, and so: 'I have been crucified with Christ, and it is no longer I who live, but Christ in me.' Luther too said it: 'When God makes alive, he does so by killing, when he justifies, he does so by pronouncing guilty, when he carries up to heaven, he does so by bringing down to hell.' When Jesus enters into battle to defeat the demons he comes to put the old to death so as to raise up something absolutely new. The battle is over, the victory won."

--Gerhard O. Forde, The Preached God (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2007) pp. 308, 309-10.


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