Pentecost 4, 2022

Jesus speaks this week about a name written in heaven. The disciples have been casting out demons and healing the sick. They come back excited and happy, but Jesus tells them that the real treasure is that name, written up in heaven, out of Satan’s reach. The good Lutheran preacher, who likely has not been called up on to exorcise any demons lately and may have been distressed to find that the grievously ill people for whom he has prayed have still died, may take comfort here. We can preach baptism here – the moment when Jesus has written the name of the newest member of the church into the book of life.

But this is hardly a week to cast one’s eye beyond the trials and travails of this world to the glories of the next. Jesus sends us out as sheep among wolves. He prepares us for rejection, because we will be rejected. It is our names which are written in heaven, but our bodies and the lives we live right now are well within the reach of Satan. Cast out from heaven, he is a great beast, wounded, chained, and looking anyone to take it out on. It might just be you.

The preacher will proclaim the kingdom, both the kingdom in which we contend with Satan and the kingdom of the blessed, those whose labors have ceased and who know eternal rest. We live in both, one by sight, the other by faith.

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