Monday, August 9, 2010

Trinity 10 Sermon

Sorry it's a day late -

Trinity 10 – Luke 19:41-48 – August 8th, 2010

In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost +
To begin today, we need to remember where our Lord is when He speaks these first words of our Gospel Lesson. This is all happening on Palm Sunday – when our Gospel talks about Jesus drawing near to the city of Jerusalem, He’s drawing near riding a donkey – He’s drawing near with the crowds around Him singing, “Hosanna, Hosanna, Hosanna, Blessed is the He who comes in the Name of the Lord!” And as Jesus rides towards the city, rides with all that pomp, and the crowds praising and shouting… He weeps. “And when He drew near and saw the city, He wept over it.” It’s a stark contrast, isn’t it? We’re used to the celebration, the joy and festivity of Palm Sunday – and there Jesus weeps. It almost seems backwards, doesn’t it? It almost seems so utterly bizarre. And why does Jesus weep? He speaks these words as He weeps, “Would that you, even you, had known on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes.” Jesus weeps from utter disappointment, from great sorrow that Jerusalem doesn’t know the things that make for peace.

Peace is a loaded word, a fuller word in the bible than we think of it in English. We don’t use it all that much – but you can’t speak Hebrew without saying peace daily. Shalom – that’s how you say hello. Shalom, peace – my friend, be at peace, I hope you are at peace. Peace is a full word to a Hebrew – it mean calmness, security, fellowship, it means forgiveness. When in the early Church they had the kiss of peace, when places today “exchange the peace” and shake hands, that was to be a sign that everything is all right and proper and good. And Jesus approaches Jerusalem, and with all that He is He desires to cry out, “Peace be with you!” But Jerusalem, Jerusalem did not know the things that made for peace. Its calm would be shattered, soon on Good Friday as the mob turns angry – and then in the years to come as rebellion after rebellion leads to destruction by the Romans. Our Lord speaks to the latter saying, “For the days will come upon you, when your enemies will set up a barricade around you and surround you and hem you in on every side and tear you down to the ground, you and your children within you.” When Rome attacks in 70 AD, it’s bad. As bad as any destruction that any of us have seen in our lifetime, as bad as anything from World War II. And it comes about because they don’t know what makes for peace. They sought peace in military security, a great rebellion to drive out the Romans. There was no peace there. No, the One who makes for peace, the One who could give them true security was there, riding upon a donkey – but they didn’t understand. The glorious revolution didn’t come – and they didn’t know peace.

“And they will not leave one stone upon another in you, because you did not know the time of your visitation.” Why? You didn’t see Jesus, not really. What’s interesting about this word “visitation” is that it is basically the same word for Bishop, for Pastor. You didn’t get it when Jesus came to be your Pastor, your Shepherd, to do that spiritual stuff, that preaching of the Word, that forgiving that you need for peace. This is the contrast – a contrast between the things that are worldly and the things that are Spiritual. So many were so focused on the here and now, on their life in the world that they missed the mystery and wonder of the fact that there was Jesus Christ – the Messiah, God become Man to be with His people. God Himself bringing life and salvation – but Jerusalem hadn’t been paying attention to true peace, to true forgiveness for a while. They didn’t know.

We see the proof of this as Jesus enters the temple. He walks in there and what does He see? It’s a spectacle. The temple would have been full of stalls and shops catering to the religious pilgrim, people exchanging money at exorbitant rates, people selling overpriced animals for sacrifice. He would see people from Jerusalem who came to the temple merely to make money off of other people’s religious piety. And Jesus drives these moneychangers out – He casts them out. The same word gets used here for what Jesus does to demons – get out. Why? “My house shall be a house of prayer, but you have made it a den of robbers.” Didn’t know the things that made for peace. And then people want to kill Him. The Chief Priests, the scribes, the principal men of the people – the good folks of society – they want Jesus gone. But they can’t, because the people are listening to Him, because people are simply hearing the Word.

Now, let’s consider this passage. We see Jesus weep, we see Him brought to tears by wickedness. We see Jesus enraged in the temple, casting out the money changers. We see people plotting to kill Jesus. This isn’t a very happy text for Jesus, is it? If you have a day where you weep bitter tears while everyone else is celebrating, if you have a day where you have disgusted, righteous anger at wickedness, if you have a day where the people in power decide you need to go – you’ve had a lousy day. Those are the days that make us want to crawl up under a rock, make us want to just head back to bed, to toss up our hands, say something coarse, and just walk away. The trials, the pain, the simple messy nature of life in this world can be hard to deal with – and there are many things we can’t deal with. Yet, what does Christ our Lord do? When He sees Jerusalem and weeps over her because she doesn’t get it, because she is going to ruin everything, does He turn around and leave? No – He rides on into Jerusalem, knowing that it will be His death. When He sees the temple sorely abused, does He wash His hands of it, angrily stomp off, I’ll just stay at home? No – enters the temple, and He fixes it, cleanses it, casts out wickedness so that righteousness may dwell there. When people want to kill Him – does He become silent, does He duck and cover? No. He speaks. He preaches, He teaches – and He’ll teach uncomfortable things. In the next few chapters – render unto Caesar (so no rebellion people), the wicked tenants who will be killed, the destruction of Jerusalem.

Why? Why does Jesus keep doing these things that bring Him to tears, that rile Him, that will get Him killed? Because these are the things that make for peace. Because these are the things that will let His people have their peace with God restored, these are the things that will let them be saved. Sin and wickedness must be confronted – and so Christ enters and preaches. Salvation and forgiveness must be won, so Christ is nailed to the tree, so that our sin might be forgiven and there might be peace. Nothing stops Christ – do you see how focused, how determined He is for there to be this peace, this forgiveness? Nothing stops Him – things that would have stopped us cold in our tracks – Jesus keeps on going – He does what we could not. He knows the things that make for Peace, and He does them.

Sometimes, it is easy for us today to look at the things we see in life, things we see in the world, things we see in the Church, and become sad, become angry. I know there have been times where I’ve looked at this congregation and wept saying, Zion, Zion, would that you knew, would that you paid attention to the things that make for peace. So often we don’t. The same lament can be leveled at our Synod - Missouri, Missouri, would that you knew the things that make for peace. But so often our focus get turned and shunted elsewhere. We can get so focused on money, power, who wants what and how much, that we forget the importance of simple Sunday morning worship. And I know that there are times when all of us have felt the scorn, the mockery of people ridiculing our Lord, our faith - mockery from people who thought that they were too big, too important. It’s depressing stuff. It’s very sobering to realize just how messy and rotten this world can be. Then we look in the mirror, and it’s worse, because we see how often we ourselves can be the biggest rotting piece in the whole deal.

And yet, what happens? Just as Christ saw and still entered Jerusalem, He still comes to us this day. As wondrous as it was for Christ ride into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, so it wondrous that He comes to us today in His Word to bring us peace. The Word of His Law comes in and breaks and crushes our sin, and His Word of Salvation and life drives our sin out and restores us. He makes us to be hearers of His Word, He makes us to hang onto His Word, to hold it, to grasp it, to be secure in this wild and crazy world by it – we know what sin is, but we know what Salvation is, the death and resurrection of Christ for our own resurrection as well. Jesus still comes to us. He comes to us in Baptism, sweeps out sin and says, “Now this child is Mine, and hers shall be a life of prayer and peace, because I have forgiven her.” We saw a miracle most wondrous today – a miracle we ourselves have received from God ourselves – Jesus still comes to us today. He comes to us in His Supper, He gives us His very Body and Blood to wrest our body away from temptation, to make love and life and forgiveness course through our veins. Jesus still comes to us today – that is the wonder that we see – now is the day of His visitation unto us, and whenever He comes to us in His Church He brings with Him His good gifts of life and salvation.

Dear friends in Christ – behold God’s great love for you. It is as great and wondrous as anything we see in Scriptures, for just as He entered Jerusalem to bring people there the things that made for peace, just as He let nothing stop Him, so too this day He visits you with His life giving Word, He visits you, for you are the Baptized, joined to Him by Water and Word and made His own. He shall not give you up, He shall not let you remain broken and abused, but He will make you to know His peace. He has gone to the cross to give you life in Him. In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit +

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