Sunday, August 4, 2013

Trinity 10

In the Name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Ghost +

          In our text for this morning, we see Jesus on His way into Jerusalem – He is on the donkey of Palm Sunday, riding into town in glory and triumph – shouts of Hosanna resounding around Him.  It’s a happy, wonderful day.  And He weeps.  He breaks into tears – but not tears of joy at the accolades – rather tears of sorrow.  Not sorrow over what would happen to Him, but tears of sorrow over Jerusalem.  Hear His Words.

          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!  But now they are hidden from your eyes.”  So why does Jesus weep, what could bring tears to His eyes?  His people don’t know.  Even as all around Him people hail His Glory, sing His praises – they just don’t know.  And what don’t they know?  The things that make for peace.  It’s such an interesting set up, Jesus going into the city of Jerusalem.  Many people were expecting a revolution, were expecting the revolt, were expecting this Messiah to be a military leader who would finally give them their independence from Rome, who would re-establish an earthly Israel that would be strong and mighty, make her neighbors quake in fear.  How ironic.  Jesus enters into a city, ready for war, ready for violence, ready for bloodshed.  Would that you, even you, had known on this day the things that make for peace.

          Jesus isn’t about war.  He isn’t about earthly power and might.  Jesus isn’t about having things our way right away.  That’s not what the Christian faith is about.  Oh, sometimes we want to focus on glory, and praise, and power – but that’s not Christ’s focus.  He is the Humble One, the One who comes to make peace.  And what peace is this?  He comes to settle a war, the war that man declared upon God in the garden, the warfare and strife against God that is better known as sin.  It’s no surprise that the people of Jesus’ day were looking for a military leader, that they were itching for a fight.  That’s what sin is.  It’s the desire to have your way no matter who you have to step on, it’s putting yourself, your interests ahead of all others.  We see this same violence today.  Yes, we see it in the middle east, but even we here can be quite violent – maybe not with guns or fists, but with our mouths.  How quickly we will be harsh to each other, criticize, break down and destroy each over by what we say.  That’s a war of words.  That’s just sin raising its ugly head.  That’s us wanting things to be our way, and us saying what we need to say to make things how we want them to be.

          Christ comes to make peace.  Christ isn’t entering the city to conquer people, to break them to His will – He enters the city to go to the Cross.  Jesus enters the city to suffer and die for sin, your sin, to cover your sin with His own blood.  This is how He makes peace – this is how He quells the war we have with God.  In Himself, in His own Body He absorbs and soaks up all of God’s wrath – God’s anger and vengeance is used up on Christ on Cross, and so we have peace.  Alas for Jerusalem – this wasn’t the peace they wanted.  Jerusalem would rebel time and time against Rome.  Around 66 AD there is a rebellion.  The crowds got the kind of leader they wanted; ruin was the result.  In 70 AD the temple is destroyed, blown off of her foundation.  They still don’t learn.  There’s another rebellion around 130, and the city is leveled, and all Jews are forced to move away.  Those who desired to live by the sword, to have their lives be made better by fighting and chaos, did indeed die by the sword.  They missed the peace that Christ was looking to.  Be wary when you live by words of violence, lest you receive the same.

          And entering this city which longs for violence, Jesus goes into the Temple.  Makes sense to me – if you want to avoid the worldly desires and lusts, it makes sense to go to God’s house.  But what happens?  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.”  No, even in the temple, the focus had shifted, shifted off of God, off of the coming Messiah who would bring redemption for Israel.  Now it was almost a wild market, with men profiting of their neighbor’s piety and devotion to God.  And this is one of the few times we see Jesus angry.  This is one of the few times where we see Jesus upset.  And why?  What’s upset Him?  The abuse of His House – people forgetting what His House, His Temple is for.  What was to go on in the temple?  Prayers – prayers to God.  Sacrifices – Sacrifices to God for sin, pointing to the coming Messiah.  Everything in God’s House was to point us to God.  To enter into the temple was to have your eyes taken off of your worldly cares and directed to God.  See, behold, you have a God who loves you and shall provide salvation for you.  And this was corrupted in Jesus day.  This was corrupted by men who sought to make money off of believers.  And so Jesus is upset.

          The same standard still holds today.  When we gather here, in this place, in God’s House, our focus should be. . . on God.  That’s not exactly an earth shattering observation there.  But what can happen?  The focus can shift.  Sometimes over worries we might have – concerns about the Church – budgets, this and that – and suddenly Church isn’t about the Church service anymore – it’s about what we do, and how many people are here or aren’t here, or what people think of us.  Or even in the service, in the worship service itself, our focus could shift.  The temptation, the current popular trend isn’t to talk about the things that make for peace, isn’t to talk about Christ Crucified.  It’s to talk about how you can be motivated.  How you can be successful.  That’s all good and well – but where’s forgiveness?  Where is Christ Crucified preached?  Suddenly, our focus is on the worldly things, our wealth and stuff and we don’t look at Christ anymore, we fall from that, and once again turn God’s House into a den of Robbers.

          So, we’ve seen Jesus weep, we’ve seen Him angry and drive the profiteers out of the Temple.  Jesus has seen what is wrong, and then He takes some time to fix it.  And He was teaching daily in the temple.  When Jesus sees that something is wrong, that people aren’t getting it – what is His response?  To teach, to teach daily and often.  And we see in Luke all over how Jesus teaches.  Luke 4 has Jesus teaching in the synagogue – and what does He do – He takes Scripture and He shows how the Old Testament has been fulfilled in Him.  Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.  Jesus explains the Word of God, how He does everything that is needed for salvation.  At the end of the Gospel – Jesus says to the disciples on the road to Emmaus “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets had spoken!  Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into His glory?”  And beginning with Moses and the Prophets, He interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself.  This is how Jesus teaches.  This is what Paul does in His Epistles, this is what Peter and John do in their Epistles.  To teach in the Church is to show how God’s Word always points us to Christ, always gives us Christ Jesus and the forgiveness He won for us upon the Cross.

          And not everyone likes this.  The chief priests and the scribes and the principal men of the people were seeking to destroy Him.  Well, that’s not good, is it?  I certainly wouldn’t like it if people were out to destroy me, and I doubt you’d like it either.  But this is something we should remember – the Gospel is a threat to people, it’s a threat to people who want glory and power.  The Gospel, the fact that we are justified and redeemed by faith in Christ Jesus is terrifying to people who crave their own power and glory and respect.  The chief priests, it wasn’t going to be about them and how wonderful they were anymore.  The scribes weren’t going to be able to hide God’s Word anymore.  The important folks of the town, the movers and shakers – well, the idea that salvation was for all, even the lowest of the low, that didn’t sit too well with them.  This is a simple fact.  People can reject the Gospel, can turn away from it, can hate it.  And that’s understandable – because the Gospel points us away from ourselves and to Christ.  See what Christ has done.  And there are times when our own sinful flesh pops up, jumps up, wants the focus to shift off of Christ – and that is when we are to repent, to daily drown our sinful flesh, as the Catechism puts it.  This is the point, we are to listen not to our sinful flesh, but to Christ and His Word.

          And don’t you love how Luke puts it here?  The people were hanging on His Words.  Were hanging on, were on the edge of their seat.  They realized what they were getting, and they were thrilled.  Do you see, you do understand, what you get here each Sunday at God’s House?  You get forgiveness.  Every week, without fail, in the liturgy, over and over your sin is forgiven.  God declares you Holy and Righteous, and you are.  You get God’s Word.  Three readings of it, each week.  And not only that, we speak it back and forth to each other.  We sing it to each other in our liturgy.  We spend an hour in God’s Word.  How fantastic.  And what’s more, look at our Lord’s Altar – you get Christ Jesus Himself, God comes to you, personally, and He says “Here I am, take and eat, let me join Myself to you for your forgiveness, for the strengthening of Your faith.”  Think on that – God Himself gives Himself to you.  How astounding is that?  This is what our Lord does for us, this is what His House is meant to be – the place where He teaches you about Himself, where He gives Himself to you over and over.  This is what Jesus wants, this is what He craves, this is what He delights in, that we know who He is and delight in His Word.

          Dear friends, the Gospel is so precious – what Christ has done for you cannot be topped by anyone, by anything.  And yet, so many do not see, and more over, so many would try to wrest Jesus away from you.  But be at peace, for Christ Jesus has won your Salvation, and He shall keep His House a house of prayer, a house where He comes to you to bring you His forgiveness and His life.  In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit + Amen.

1 comment:

Steve Martin said...

Love it!

Great sermon, Rev.!

No one left standing...except Christ Jesus ...and His great live for us, 'the sinners'.