Saturday, August 19, 2017

Trinity 10 Sermon

Trinity 10 – August 19th and 20th, 2017 – Luke 19:41-48

In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit +
It should have been the high point of Jesus' earthly ministry. What we see in our Gospel text today my friends is, once again, Palm Sunday. Every 4 months or so our readings throw us back to Palm Sunday – because it's a great day. We love Palm Sunday – so we don't just get it on Palm Sunday – we get it at the start of Advent where we talk about our King coming to us humbly. And we also get it today, in the dog days of summer – but we get Palm Sunday with a twist. There is Jesus, on the donkey, the crowds calling out Hosanna... and he rounds a bend and there is Jerusalem standing before Him. Jerusalem – the city of God's own chosen people. Jerusalem is so wondrous that at the end of Revelation we hear: “And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.” This should be the high point... and what is Jesus doing? He's weeping. Not tears of joy, not tears of just how absolutely beautiful all this is, but tears of sorrow.

Our Gospel lesson gives us wondrous insight into Christ Jesus – a look at how He thinks, how He approaches life. Even at the height of His earthly glory – He weeps. Why? “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 looks upon Jerusalem, and He is heart broken. There He is, the Prince of Peace, coming to win salvation for His people – and they don't see, they don't understand. Things are hidden from them. That is Scriptural talk for idolatry – they are so caught up in idolatry, in fearing and loving and trusting in something other than God that they don't recognize what a wondrous thing is going on. Jesus is right there – the Scriptures pointing to the salvation of the world are being fulfilled – but that's not what they see. That's hidden from them. What do they see, what is their idolatry?

Well, Jesus points to it with what He says next. “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.” Jersualem's idolatry was this: they worshipped false dreams of their own political glory. They wanted power and might and independence from Rome – they wanted a son of David who wouldn't be a Prince of Peace but a mighty man of war who would drive the Romans out. And so, they end up ignoring Christ. Kill Him and wish to be done with Him before the week's out. And instead they keep looking for great political leaders who would lead the glorious revolution. And in 66AD, around 30 someodd years down the road – they rebel against Rome. And it is horrific. Rome besieges the city, starves her out for years, and the people become weaker and weaker... and then in 70 AD Rome finally attacks and utterly destroys Jerusalem. Obliterates it. They blow up the temple – it was made of limestone so they set fires all around it, superheated the water in the stone and blew it up. It is one of the more horrific sieges of the ancient world – all because Jerusalem wanted power, not peace.

As He rides around the bend and sees Jerusalem – that is what Jesus sees. And He weeps. Not for Himself, not because of His upcoming crucifixion – those tears will be on Maundy Thursday and Good Friday – but Jesus weeps because these people whom He loves just are hell-bent on stupidity and folly, and it will wreck them. It will wreck them because they didn't see, didn't want to see a loving and merciful Savior who came to visit them, to be with them – they wanted their own glory and other people to get the shaft. If you live by the sword... you die by the sword. He even had to tell that to the disciples on Maundy Thursday.

It gets worse. Jesus enters Jerusalem, and He does what you would expect Him to. He goes to the temple. Earlier in Luke was the story of boy Jesus in the temple, where all the old guys are discussing Scripture with Jesus – and they love it. Of course Jesus is going to be found in His Father's house! But that was after the feast, after Passover. Jesus comes in before Passover this time, and what He sees – well: 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.” Jesus weeps over Jersualem; the abuse in the temple makes Him angry. This isn't a calm kicking people out. Other Gospels note that He overturns tables, that he makes a whip out of cords of rope and whips people out – drives them like cattle. Why this righteous anger?

Remember who Jesus is. Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. This is Passover week, the preparation for celebrating the greatest feast of them all, where God delivered Israel from Egypt – where blood of the Lamb upon the wooden lintel ensured that the angel of death would passover – where there was the holy meal done every year so that the children of God would remember not only that delieverance – but more importantly that one day God would send the Messiah to be the true Passover Lamb, whose blood would be shed to eternally deliver all mankind from death. And that day is here – behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! Indeed, at Sundown Friday He would be sacrificed, His blood would be upon the wooden beams of the Cross and death would be destroyed forever! And yet – what's going on in the temple, the place that should be most focused on God. The lambs there aren't so that people would remember their coming salvation – they are there with giant mark ups so folks can profit off of people's piety. The Temple was no longer pointing folks to God, no longer a place of prayer and God's Word – it was all about money. Here is part of the reason why the day of Jerusalem's visitation is hidden! And Jesus is ticked off royally. And He drives them out.

Two incredibly strong emotions from Jesus in our text – the weeping sorrow, the righteous anger. But did you notice, these have nothing to do with with what's happening to Him. He's not sorrowful over what will happen to Him, He's not angry because of what will happen to Him come Good Friday. He's sorrowful, He's angry because of what is being done to the people He loves, the very people He is going to die for. He sees them trapped, sees them messed with – and He can't stand it. His focus, this thoughts are upon them, and that is what drives Jesus.

Now, the hard questions. If Jesus were to round the corner and see Trinity here, what would be the things that would make Him weep? What are the idols that we are so focused on that we don't pay the attention to the things that make for peace like we ought? I don't think any of you are wanting a glorious revolution to over throw the country – but what gets in the way of peace in your life? Are you focused on personal respect? Are you more worried about what your neighbor thinks of you than of how you can serve them and show them love? Does a lust for wealth drive you; or even just simple lust? Are there people that you'd rather just keep hating, keep grousing about and complaining about instead of forgiving? Or maybe even just being too busy to be bothered with love and peace when you go out those doors – I put my hour in of being a good little Christian for this week and that is enough. Those and so many more, too many to count – all things that undercut peace. All things that take the good gifts of life and body and neighbors and house and home and mess with them, make them places of dischord rather than peace. Those are the things Jesus would weep over.

And as for what would make Jesus angry if he were to walk in here – well, that would be whenever we would shift the focus of this place off of the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world and make the focus ourselves – money driving the discussion would be one way, or if the preaching going off on my personal hobby horses instead of being Christ and Him Crucified. Treating this place as though it's where the good people of town gather rather than a place where sinners come to receive Jesus. Because this place is to be a place where our eyes and all the eyes of this community are focused upon Jesus – not to be a place where we tell folks out there that they aren't good enough, aren't rich enough, aren't “us” enough. That's the sort of stuff that makes Jesus angry.

Like I said, hard questions. And ones that we should ponder for ourselves, routinely – throughout the week. What is it this week that is popping up in me that is trying to make me not see Jesus and His love – His love for me, His love for my neighbor. But even as we ponder these questions – we can't stop just there – because Jesus doesn't just stop there. When Jesus weeps over Jerusalem, He don't say, “that's it, there's no point in going on” and turn the donkey around. When Jesus drives folks out of the temple, He doesn't say, “Forget this, I'm going back to Nazareth and making tables and chairs.” No – He doesn't give into sin, He doesn't let His ego run wild, He doesn't pout or take His ball and go home. He spends the rest of Holy Week preaching in the temple, pointing to God's plan of salvation – and then He very simply goes to the Cross and wins salvation. For the people of Jerusalem. For the folks in the temple. For you. Jesus' response to your sin isn't perpetual disdain; His response is to deal with it. It is to go to the Cross and die for it and to rise from the dead so as to pull you through it by giving you His own life. This is why we ask ourselves these hard questions, why the Word of God shows us our sin – not so that we try to make it up to God – but so that we would see Jesus all the more clearly – so that we would know what sins He is forgiving, so that we wouldn't be lulled away from Him but rather see just how diligently and determinedly He loves us. Yeah, your heart often doesn't want to be about peace – so over and over Jesus comes to you and says Peace be with you – I am giving you My peace and forgiveness right now; because you are Mine I'll see to it that you know the things that make for peace, that you know that you are baptized into Me and are dead to sin and alive in Me – that you live not by bread alone but by My Word, indeed by My own Body and Blood given for you for the forgiveness of all, all of your sin – even those difficult hard ones that keep sticking around and are so hard to fight. Yes, those sins – those are precisely the ones Jesus died for. And He pours his Word and Spirit upon us, so that as His forgiven children we would live with Him forever. The Jesus who weeps over Jerusalem has promised to wipe every tear from your eye and to bring you unto Himself with joy and peace even forever. So, even after our text, after the week we've just had – He goes to the Cross for you, He rises for you, and He will come again for you. Because that is just who Jesus is, He is the God is will let nothing – not sin, not Satan, not death – Jesus will let nothing stop Him from loving you. In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit + Amen.

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