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God’s Word for You

Luke 11:21-22 the stronger man

by Pastor Timothy Smith on Friday, July 13, 2018

21 “When a strong man, fully armed, guards his own house, his possessions are safe. 22 But when someone stronger attacks him and overpowers him, he steals the suit of armor in which he trusted and divides up the plunder.

Jesus’ third response to his critics and doubters is that a strong man who is armored, armed, and ready, can only be overcome by someone who is stronger. The Lord pictures the devil like an armored warrior, wearing the best protection money can buy. Today we would say that he wears Kevlar or some other bullet-proof material and carries a bullet-proof shield. Armed to the teeth, who could ever overcome him? Yet Jesus did. Jesus is the “someone stronger.” When Jesus threw out the devil’s guards like this mute demon, it wasn’t with the devil’s approval, but with the devil’s shock and horror. The King had come, and no matter what champion Satan pushed forward, each one was overcome, alone or in their legions (Luke 8:30), by Christ alone.

The plunder that Christ takes from the devil is every victim under the devil’s power. This whole scene recalls Abraham’s rescue of Lot from Kedorlaomer in Genesis 14:13-16. Aided only by a few heathen Amorites, Abraham pursued the coalition army from the north after they plundered Sodom and Gomorrah, taking Abraham’s nephew Lot as a captive. Abraham’s little band caught up with them north of Damascus, and with a clever strategy, attacked Kedorlaomer from more than one direction all at once, killed or routed the enemy, and recovered what was stolen. Abraham recovered the kidnapped people including Lot, and after giving a thank-offering through Melchizedek of Jerusalem, he divided the plunder with the Amorites who helped him.

So it is with Jesus. He has defeated Satan by his own power, but he has permitted a few heathen Gentiles like you and me to tag along, telling us what to do and winning, in every case, despite us. He is the victor, he lays the spoils at the feet of his heavenly Father, and yet he chooses to share in the victory with us, who are both Gentile bystanders and also members of the group rescued from the clutches of the devil. Praise be to Jesus! He has saved us, and he has given us eternal life.

Note: The Greek term πανοπλία (English panoply) means a whole suit of armor, not just a breastplate or some other piece, as in Ignatius’ letter to Polycarp: “Let your baptism be your shield, your faith your helmet, your love a spear, your endurance a suit of armor…” (6:2). In Ephesians 6:11 and 13 NIV translates “the full armor of God” where my own translation is “the whole armor of God.” See also my comments about this word in Tolkien and C.S. Lewis at Ephesians 6:13.

In Christ,
Pastor Timothy Smith

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Pastor Tim SmithAbout Pastor Timothy Smith
Pastor Smith serves St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in New Ulm, Minnesota. His wife, Kathryn, attended the Chapel from 1987-1990 while studying Secondary Education (Theater and Math) at UW-Madison. Kathryn’s father, John Meyer, was also the first man to serve as a Vicar at Chapel.

To receive God’s Word for You via e-mail, please contact Pastor Smith.