The Monsters Among Us

This is our pastor’s newsletter article for October 2019.

Ancient peoples dreaded the deep.  The darkened abyss gurgled with predatory beasts, fanged creatures to swallow you whole, hungering for more.  Today, those shrieking, mythical denizens still fill us with wonder, if not terror.  In the Bible, the book of Job mentions the leviathan and other monstrous movers of the sea.

Do you believe in monsters?  Every child, at one time or another, cried out in panic against them.  Hidden creatures bumped in the night, reptilian fiends slithered under the bed, and danger crept behind every shadow.  Human history reeks of such stories: The one-eyed Cyclops, Beowulf’s Grendel, and the many-tentacled Kraken.

Consider Goliath, not a “monster” as we think but a giant, nevertheless, and a skilled, capable combatant.  No one yet defeated him in battle.  Though not an actual monster, he might as well be one, a terrifying man who filled every soldier’s heart with fear.

Well, except for one—a boy!  After hearing about this horrifying behemoth, named Goliath, David understood one thing.  Arrogant and puffed up, Goliath beat his chest and mocked God.  Despite not being old enough to be in the army, David answered the challenge to fight him.  A mission to bring food for his older brothers broadened into something far more daring and dangerous. 

Now, David realized, a hellish force like Goliath can only be beaten by God and who He is, not swords or armament.  So, David went to the brook and scooped out five, water-worn pebbles.  The number five is significant, representing God’s Word.  The foundational books in the Old Testament are the first five, starting at Genesis and ending with Deuteronomy.  So with Scripture; so also the stones.

Against this monster, David steps forth, bearing no sword or shield.  Here, comes this still-unmuscled teen, without a weapon of war or protective armor.  The titan mocks this boy, still smooth of face, “I will kill you, you worthless child.”

Scrutinize how David replies.  With no boast in himself, he declares, “I come in the name of the Almighty God.”  The Lord and His Word is what we need to contest against the armies of evil.  “One little word can fell him,” as Luther wrote.

A solitary stone and a single sling.  The colossal Philistine collapses.  Down, down, the once-mighty warrior falls, his knees collapsing beneath him.  The giant is dead, his tongue hangs from his mouth, lifeless and unmoving, silent.

What monsters do you face?  Not a literal Goliath, for sure, but we all confront the same incarnation of iniquity, brought to us from the dawning of time—death.  Like an unwanted ogre, death can frighten us because we’re never sure when this unwelcome visitor may come calling.

Long ago, Jesus fought that monster for us.  Into battle, He went, also without a spear or lance.  Like David before, Christ went into combat with nothing but God’s name.

At first, the Goliath-like mockery appeared to win the day.  “Let him now come down from the cross, and we will believe in him,” strut a grouping of Pharisees nearby.  In their misuse of Scripture, they amuse themselves, “He trusts in God.  Let God rescue him now—if he takes pleasure in him!  For he did say, ‘I am the Son of God’” (Wisdom 2:18, quoted in Matthew 27:42-43).

The fray of the fight left Jesus dead.  Not for long because Jesus took our weakness and turned it into strength, for when He died, He buried death inside His tomb.  Only by dying, did our Savior trample down death, destroying its dominion over us.

Every monster now shrivels into a defanged dog, stripped of every tooth.  Oh, its bark sounds terrorizing and tries us, but its bite is now harmless.  Ponder anew what Jesus did for you.  Remember how He killed the foulest of monsters, conquering our mortality, defeating all the demonic hordes, and shearing hell asunder.

The monster is dead, Jesus forgives your sins, casting away the darkness of death’s enshrouding night.  What is left to fear?  Shorn now is the Devil of all his might.  For your Lord rose from death and grave, which means you will you too.  Amen.