Lent 3 – 2023

Lent 3 – 2023

Grace, mercy and peace be unto you from God our Father and our Lord, Jesus Christ. Amen.
Our text for today consists of the last two versed of the Gospel, Luke 11:27–28 (ESV)
27 As he said these things, a woman in the crowd raised her voice and said to him, “Blessed is the womb that bore you, and the breasts at which you nursed!” 28 But he said, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and keep it!”

The conspicuous word here is “blessed.” Μακαρία in the Greek. As the early Greeks used it, “It denotes the transcendent happiness of a life beyond care, labor, and death,”1 such as the life of the gods. In regular usage at the time of the New Testament, it denotes human happiness as a result of a great gift or favor. It is used of those who have been given eternal life in heaven. It was also used as a synonym for when the angel called Mary “highly favored.” You are blessed because of what you are given, by grace; you don’t make yourself blessed. So then, other than those already in heaven, …

I. What Jesus Said
II. Blessed Mary
III. Blessed You

I. What Jesus Said
What got this started was what Jesus said, 27 As he said these things, a woman in the crowd raised her voice and said to him, “Blessed is the womb that bore you, and the breasts at which you nursed!” Essentially, the woman was saying that a mother would be blissfully happy to have a Son like Jesus. What she was responding to was, first of all, His power over the evil spirits and the illnesses that plague humanity. “Now he was casting out a demon that was mute. When the demon had gone out, the mute man spoke, and the people marveled.” (Luke 11:14, ESV) As you remember the gospel lesson for today, people accused Jesus of using demonic power to heal. Others wanted some other kind of sign. In response, Jesus lays out the nature of the cosmic battle we are in.
– Satan is implacably opposed to all that is good and will do no truly good thing. All is a lie to him.
– Jesus’ divine power shows that the kingdom of God has come.
– Jesus’ conquest of the devil is complete. He has “defeated him, taken away his armor, and divided up the plunder”
– Everything in heaven and earth depends on whether you are with Christ or against him. If you reject Christ, then understand His victory will be over you; you will be defeated.
So what this shows us is that Jesus is the great power of light over darkness, life over death, good over evil, and wherever these are in conflict, any time, any place, He declares victory.

II. Blessed Mary
Who wouldn’t want a Son like that? Elizabeth recognized it: “And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the baby leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit, and she exclaimed with a loud cry, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of
your womb!” (Luke 1:41–42, ESV) And Mary responded, “…, “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant. For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed; for he who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name.” (Luke 1:46–49, ESV)
1 Hauck, F., & Bertram, G. (1964–). μακάριος, μακαρίζω, μακαρισμός. In G. Kittel, G. W. Bromiley, & G. Friedrich (Eds.), Theological dictionary
of the New Testament (electronic ed., Vol. 4, p. 362). Eerdmans.

Although she suffered much as her son was abused and rejected and tortured, what joy and happiness came to her upon his resurrection? And besides all that, think of the joy that must be hers in heaven to know the Lord of Heaven and earth who humbled Himself to be carried by a woman and
born as a baby. Can you imagine being so highly favored, so blessed, as to be the Mother of God? It boggles the mind. This unknown woman was right to exclaim, “Blessed is the womb that bore you and the breasts at which you nursed!”

III. Blessed You
28 But he said, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and keep it!” In reality, none of the blessedness of Mary would mean a thing without her salvation. Because her song, the Magnificat, was inspired by the Holy Spirit, she confessed the same thing. “He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy, as he spoke to our fathers, to Abraham, and to his offspring forever.” (Luke 1:54–55, ESV) What had come to her was just part of the mercy and grace of God that He promised to us through the prophets and fulfilled in Jesus Christ. To hear the word of God and keep it is to possess the salvation That God gives us through that word. You know what the Bible says, I hope: “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through
the word of Christ.” (Romans 10:17, ESV) And “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.” (Romans 1:16–17, ESV)
It is by the word of God that we know our sins. His commandments do away with any notion we might have that we have a righteousness of our own. We are lost and alienated from God, helpless, and deserving nothing. But it is by the word of God that we know our Savior. Through His word He calls us to life and faith, which takes hold of the righteousness that He lived out for us, and the atonement for which He was sacrificed. And these aren’t just stories, as Jesus tells us they are in fact the “word of God!” And how do we then “keep it”? Does it mean we have to keep all the rules? Then we would have to despair. Does it mean that we have to obey perfectly? Then we would be doomed. To “keep it” means that we believe it. We believe in the reality of our sin and of our Savior. We believe all that is written about Him, of His perfect life that He lived in our place, of his death that He died our death for us, of His resurrection by which He secured our resurrection and salvation. “This gospel is about his Son—who in the flesh was born a descendant of David, who in the spirit of holiness was declared to be God’s powerful Son by his resurrection from the dead—Jesus Christ, our Lord.” (Romans 1:3–4, EHV)
To “keep it” means that it is part of our lives. Remember the parable of the sower just a while ago, where Jesus warned us about the many things that can separate us from the word so that we lose our faith? And by contrast, in John Jesus says, “So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:31–32, ESV)
So dear friends, ever and always hear the word of God and keep it! For then you are truly among the blessed, those who possess everlasting life and joy, now and forevermore. There are many temptations to let it go, to relegate God’s word to some lesser rank, but it is the word of God to give you the life of faith and to keep you in it. Hear and keep the word of God and you are blessed beyond all the richest people in the world, kings, emperors, politicians, and people of wealth and power. You are blessed with forgiveness, life, and salvation in the presence of all the joys of the resurrection, forever and ever. AMEN