Trinity 10 – August 12th, 2012 – Luke 19:41-48
In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost +
During this time in the Trinity season we are presented with some Gospel texts that call us to a bit of self-reflection, a bit of self-examination. We have heard that we are often not wise, that we are lead astray by false prophets. It is a period where the texts cause us to pause and take stock of ourselves, our own spiritual lives, and see whether or not all the things we talk about in Church, God’s Law, Christ’s love, whether or not these things are sinking in, whether or not they are impacting us, or whether we just let them fly in one ear and out the other. Do we end up putting in our hour at Church on Sunday, but then just go and live the rest of the week as though nothing of interest or importance has happened here?
And there is a reason that we have this time in the Church Year, a reason why there are such texts in the Gospels. Our friends in other denominations who try to say that once a person is saved he is always saved and cannot fall away are wrong. We see throughout Scripture countless examples of people who knew better falling away – chasing after vain ideas and dreams rather than being centered and focused upon the Word of God. It happened in Jeremiah’s time, it happened in Christ’s time, it happens in ours. So let us attend to what our Lord says and does in our Gospel lesson, so that we may not only examine ourselves, but also learn again of Christ’s determined love for us.
‘And when [Jesus] 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. 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.”’ From the perspective of the Roman Empire, Jerusalem was a bit of a problem city. Throughout the Roman Empire, different cultures had been brought into the Empire and were glad to be a part of it – they joined the whole. In fact, the reason the Roman Empire ends up falling is too many people want to get in – the Roman infrastructure can’t keep up. The Jews of Jerusalem though, they didn’t like to play along. And they kept rebelling. Repeatedly. Over and over. Their dreams were ones of an independent Jewish state, a nation with a mighty leader, like what they had when David was there. And so, all during the time that the Romans were there, the Jewish people kept rebelling. That was even what many folks hoped Jesus would do – that He would lead the glorious revolution – which He doesn’t, obviously. And then finally, in the year 66 AD, there was a major rebellion. And Rome sends down her legions – and then after a few years of fighting Jerusalem is surrounded. And the Romans lay siege to her. And they methodically break in to each of the parts of the city – and then they lay waste. To be a sign and a warning, they slaughter every man, woman, and child who was still in the city, even the dogs in the city – slaughtered. Nothing left alive. And the city is burned and utterly destroyed. The temple is utterly destroyed, set fire to and literally exploded, where the only part that remains is a chunk of the outer wall – not even part of the temple really, it’s fence – what we call today the wailing wall.
This is the event of which our Lord speaks, what our Lord sees as He approaches Jerusalem. But note what He says – “Would that you, even you, had known the things that make for peace.” The thing that makes the destruction of Jerusalem so bitter for Jesus is that it was so unnecessary. The folks there kept looking for an political Messiah, an earthly king. They overlooked the true Messiah, they overlooked the King of Kings. They abandoned the spiritual and instead focused on the physical, the political. Rather than delighting in the eternal Salvation of their God, they sought power and fame in the world, and they were slaughtered. So thus, riding into the city on Palm Sunday, with the crowds hailing Him, our Lord weeps over Jerusalem’s folly.
Now then, how does this apply to us? What does our Lord see when He looks upon [us?] [Zion – for we are named after Jerusalem, after one of the hills in Jerusalem – that’s what Zion is]. Do we spend our time focused upon the things that make for peace, do we spend our time being focused upon Christ, where all that we do is centered on Him, or do we get bogged down in other things? The answer to both of these questions is yes. Yes, we are focused upon Christ Jesus and His love for us here – but we need to be aware of the ways in which Satan tries to pull our focus off of Christ and weigh us down with the cares of this life, weigh us down with vainglorious dreams of what was, what could be - so that we end up ignoring the present wonder of the fact that Christ Jesus comes to us and is present with us this very day, in this very place.
As human beings, we are easily distracted; we are easily manipulated. We are distracted by our hopes and by our fears. That is how you twist people. Someone plays off of our hopes and dreams – we get promised the moon, and so we run off and do something foolish. Or, someone plays off our fears – if you don’t do this, terrible, terrible things will happen. You see this in politics all the time – if you vote for me, everything in your life will be better and we’ll have cheap health care and you’ll get a better job and everything will be wonderful. If you don’t vote for me, the economy will collapse and all the doctors will leave. You see it in relationships, in the work place, in the home. Hopes are used against us, fears are used against us. And Satan does the same thing against us, against us as individuals and against us as a Church. Satan can play off a Church’s dreams – if we only do X, Y, and Z we will grow and grow and everyone will want to come here – where X, Y, and Z have nothing to do with Christ – and we forget who we are and what we are to be about. Satan can play off of a Church’s fears – money is tight, there are fewer people, whatever will we do? And in both of these cases, Satan tries to wrest your eyes off of Christ.
So consider your own life, consider your approach to this place. Are there dreams you have that pull you away from God? Are there times where you are more concerned with elevating your will above His, where you think your plans are greater or better than God’s? And on the other hand, are there fears that weigh you down? Are there fears that would paralyze you, or fears where you think you’ve just got to do something drastic and different, otherwise the worst will happen? Satan tries to make us lose our heads in the clouds, Satan tries to make us cower in fear, run away in fear. This is what our foe tries to do to us. So what is to be our response? What does our Lord say?
“Would that you, even you, had known on this day the things that make for peace.” Christ Jesus our Lord makes for peace – peace that is good and right for us. This is true for us as individuals. When we are focused on, when we see Christ’s love for us, we don’t need to go chasing off after pipe dreams or run blindly into danger. When we are focused on, when we know Christ’s forgiveness, we don’t have to live with the fear that Satan tries so desperately to heap upon us. Christ’s love and forgiveness is what makes for peace. And what is true for us as individuals is true for us also as a Congregation. Christ Jesus makes for peace. We can forget that this Church is His Church, not ours. He will grow it as He sees fit. He will provide for it, as He has in the past, for as long as He wants His Word proclaimed in this place. His will will be done. He is the One who has built and established this place, and He is the One who comes here to give out forgiveness and peace. There’s a reason why in the Communion Service, right after the Words of Institution, we behold our Lord’s Body and Blood and hear the words – “The Peace of the Lord be with you always”. That’s the focus – Christ’s Church is about Christ giving us His peace through forgiveness, through His Body given for us and His Blood shed for us – and when we see that, when we are people who know and recognize the things that make for peace – we do indeed have peace in Christ Jesus. Our Lord Jesus has suffered and died for us, our Lord has risen for us – what dream of ours is going to top eternal life – what fear can diminish our Lord’s love? And so we are called here to hear the Word of our Lord – to receive His very Body, to receive the very Blood that was shed for us, so that we may not just be at peace here, but depart from this place in peace.
This peace shapes our lives – it g ives us the strength to keep our eyes focused upon Christ when vain dreams would distract us, it gives us to strength to keep our eyes open and focused upon Christ when fears would have us close them in terror. Christ’s peace makes us to live by faith – where all the things we do are done trusting in Him and His love for us. We don’t have to plot and scheme to get God’s blessing – He will bless us as He sees fit. We don’t have to fret and fear – He will care for us as He always has. And we are left to live lives of faith – where we strive to do what we ought – to show love where love to needed, to work where work is needed, to give support where support is needed, and always trusting that God the same God who loves us so much that He forgives us when we fail will assuredly continually care for us.
And so my friends, once again, I encourage you to be in God’s Word, to let Christ’s Word dwell richly in you, to come frequently and often to His Supper, because these are the things which He has provided to you to give you His peace. And our Lord is diligent in giving these to you – He sees to it that His House is always to be a House of worship and prayer, a place where He is present for you in His Word, in His Supper. We are built upon Christ, we live in Christ, we are preserved by Christ – and so thus, seeing this, knowing this, we have peace, whatever dreams float into our lives, whatever fears come crashing down. We rest securely in Lord. The Peace of the Lord be with you always. In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost +