Sunday, August 28, 2011

Today's Sermon - Trinity 10

10th Sunday after Trinity – Luke 19:41-48 – August 28th, 2011

In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit +
We today forget, we today do not understand what a big, what a large word “Peace” is in the Holy Scriptures. In the Scriptures, when you hear the word “Peace” it’s not just… calmness. It’s not just the lack of war or something the freeze-dried gray haired hippies say. It’s not just getting a little bit of quiet. The word “Peace” encapsulates everything that has to do with things being right and proper and as they should be. If you want to think about what peace truly is – think about the Garden of Eden before the fall – that is Peace – that is things the way they ought to be. Peace is very much the opposite of Sin and all its vile and horrid consequences – indeed, you can think about Peace being directly opposed to sin. That’s what Peace is.

“And when He drew near and saw the city, He wept over it, saying, ‘Would that you, even you, had known on this day the things that make for peace!’” This scene, this Gospel lesson takes place on Palm Sunday. Christ in riding on the Donkey, the cries of Hallelujah are echoing all around Him – and there we see Christ, on the donkey, on Palm Sunday – weeping. Weeping because Jerusalem doesn’t know the things that make for peace. And this is so horrid, so ironic, because the same “Jerusalem” means “Abode of Peace” – that “Salem” or “Shalom” is the Hebrew word for peace. You, Jerusalem, you are the place where peace should dwell, for you are where the Temple is, where Mt. Zion is, where God Himself is present to forgive the sins of His people, to undo and destroy them and to give life and peace… and you do not know the things that make for peace. The Prince of Peace rides into the Abode of Peace, and He laments, for the people there do not desire peace – not real peace. “But now they are hidden from your eyes.” There you have God Himself, come to save His people from their sin – and even the crowds praising Him, who among them understands, who desires true peace? They want freedom from Rome, kick the bums out. They want more wealth, more stuff, more security. They want things of this world – but the things of peace – not wanted. And they will follow a path of violence.

Our Lord says, “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. And they will not leave one stone upon another in you, because you did not know the time of your visitation.” Many in Christ’s day hoped that He would lead the glorious revolution against Rome. But He doesn’t – and thus He is rejected. Instead of simply clinging to Christ and His Kingdom, so many would try to make their own kingdom in this world, and so over and over the Jewish folks in Jerusalem would rebel. In 66 AD, they drive the Roman legions out… but Rome comes back and surrounds the city, blockades it for 4 years, and then lays waste to it. Destroys the Temple – blows up the Holy of Holies. While the temple isn’t rebuilt, Jerusalem was, yet it gets destroyed again. Around 130, there is another revolt, and this time the city is utter destroyed, and all the Jewish folks living there are forced to move – are scattered to the winds. And Jerusalem has been fought over since then – a history of blood and violence and pain and suffering – all because people do not know the things that make for peace.

We see this truth further enforced when Jesus reaches the temple. “And He entered the temple and began to drive out those who sold, saying to them, ‘It is written My House shall be a house of prayer, but you have made it a den of robbers.’” Christ Jesus steps into the temple, steps upon Mt. Zion, and His sorrow turns to righteous anger as He sees these people who are profiteering off of the temple sacrifices, who are engaged in commerce with nary a thought to what is actually happening in that Temple. And He drives them out. John tells us that Jesus does so with a whip made of cords – starts whipping people out of the temple. Again, a focus on money, on wealth, on “mammon”. Not upon the things that make for peace.

Now we must ponder a question ourselves. Having seen our Lord’s sorrow and anger over the things, the power, the glory, the wealth that those people craved, what it is that we crave? Do we desire the things of this world, or do we desire the things that make for peace? As Americans, what do we want? Turn on a TV and what do you see? Not just on the shows, but on the commercials as well. What are they selling us, what are we wanting? What do we think we can buy with money to make our lives so much better and wonderful, what will we flee to in order to try to get the false peace and security and false freedom of the world? We all have different things, different desires, different idols about which we think, “If only this, then life would be better.” We are not immune, we get caught up in the rat race, I have to do this, I have to buy that, if I just get X, Y, and Z things will be better. And on and on, we run around chasing after our passions, our lusts, our desires – whatever they are. And so rarely are we at peace. So often we are driven by fear, by worry, by angst. So often we trust in earthly power and might.

I know that this last paragraph, what’s I’ve just been talking about isn’t very specific. I know that I’m not lambasting specific things, specific items as “this is bad” – because I can’t. I can ponder, I can think about what calls to me, what tempts me to become an idol in my life, what I desire. But I don’t know your thoughts, your hearts – so I ask you to ponder. What do you crave, what do you want, what makes you act like the tantrum throwing 5 year old, just determined that you won’t be happy or satisfied until you get “fill in the blank”. It might be respect or a raise or a new this or that, or lust or just a desire to not have any more responsibilities so you can just live for yourself – there’s too many options for me to address or guess – and our Gospel text doesn’t point to just one. But you know – what tempts you, what is it that isn’t healthy, isn’t good, and you know it, that continually calls out to you? How does Satan attack you?

Because, he does. Satan wants you bound to the things of sin. Satan wants the things of this fallen world, money, power, busy-ness, lust, greed, prestige – whatever to more and more dominate, to shape your life, so that you are so caught up in them, so that you forget what makes for true peace. Which I guess begs the question – what is it that makes for peace? And we end our lesson with a contrast – “And He was teaching daily in the temple. The chief priests and the scribes and the principal men of the people were seeking to destroy Him, but they did not find anything they could do, for all the people were hanging on His Words.” Do you see the two camps, the distinction that is made? On the one hand, you have those who are craving after power and wealth and might – and they want to destroy Christ. To be done with Him. To put Him in the ground and never have to hear His Name again, to be utterly separated from Him. Is this not what Satan tries to accomplish in your life with sin and its distractions? But on the other hand – here are the things that make for peace – the Word of Christ Jesus. It is the Prince of Peace Himself who brings peace with Him.

The sins and the temptations of the world offer us so many and varied things, things that seem appealing, things that will tell us they will bring joy when they only bring more lack and pain and suffering. But what does Christ Jesus bring with His Word? He brings to you forgiveness, so that you are free from guilt and at peace. He brings with Him life everlasting, so that even as the world shouts, “you need this, you need that” – you in truth know that you have life that lasts beyond just this time now, life much better. He brings you joy – not a mere rush of endorphins or pleasure or “happiness” – but that peaceful contentful joy, that knowing that you are loved, forgiven, that God is Your God who cares for you and that there is nothing the world can do to change that. In His Word, Christ Jesus gives you Himself – He Himself is with you, and because of this you have peace. When you hear Christ, when you dwell in Him and He in You, when you meditate upon His Word, His love for you – you have peace. It’s not that this place and the Word of God here makes all the troubles of this world go away – not right now, at least. That will have to wait for the life of the world to come. But Christ Jesus gives you peace – gives you strength to stand on His firm and sound foundation, and so the world can swirl around you – it may rage like a hurricane, but you are in the center with Christ, you are with Him and at peace. And Satan will again and again, over and over try to distract you, try to make you once again get caught up in tumbling vortex of this world – and in response Christ will speak His Word to you – He will warn you of Satan’s ploys, and then He will say, “Peace be with you.” Be at peace – know that you are forgiven, know that with my death upon the Cross I have defeated Satan, that I have defeated the world – know that with My resurrection I have ensured that even should you die, yet you shall live. This cruel and mean and jealous and greedy and vile world can in reality do nothing to you – for the Prince of Peace has come to you, He has made You to be His own temple when He baptized you, washed you clean, drove out your sin and promised to forgive you continually. He has made you His own dwelling place – and He makes you to know peace. He makes you to be focused upon Him, to hear His Word of peace over and over again.

My dear Christian friends – you are in a world that will try to buffet you, that will try to twist you, that will try to sell you on everything. And all this world will do is lead you to pain and suffering and sin and sorrow. But over and against this world, Christ Jesus, the Prince of Peace, speaks His Word of life and peace to you. Your sins are forgiven. You have true life in Christ. You do not need whatever the world is selling – for you are His, and all of the life of the world to come is your inheritance. Remember this truth whenever Satan holds something dazzling before you eyes – you have been brought by the Holy Spirit to know true peace in Christ Jesus your Lord. In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit + Amen.

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