Trinity X - St. Luke 19:41-48 - August 9, 2015
Order of Service - Pg. 15Hymn#239 Come, Thou Almighty King
Hymn#473 The Church's One Foundation
Hymn#258 Lord of Our Life and God of Our Salvation
O God, Who declarest Thine almighty power chiefly in showing mercy and pity, mercifully grant unto us such a measure of Thy grace that we, running the way of Thy commandments, may obtain Thy gracious promises and be made partakers of Thy heavenly treasure; through Jesus Christ, Thy Son, our Lord, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen
Sermon on the Holy Gospel
1) Approaching Jerusalem, the holy city, Jesus weeps. He weeps out of sorrow for what will happen to this blessed place. About forty years from the time Jesus shed tears over her, Jerusalem would be sieged by the Romans. The city would be razed to the ground. Jews would be sold into slavery and shipped all over the known world. Men, women, and children would be killed in the streets, if starvation from the siege hadn’t killed them already. Anyone Jew who did survive the Roman siege would be barred by entering Jerusalem and living there. The Temple, the place where the Lord dwelt, would be laid waste. Sacrifices would cease forever and the songs of the Temple choir would no longer be heard. Jesus weeps because, being the prophet that Moses foretold, He would look at the beautiful city and prophesy her end. He laments and says, If you had known, even you, especially in this your day, the things that make for your peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. For days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment around you, surround you and close you in on every side, and level you, and your children within you, to the ground; and they will not leave in you one stone upon another, because you did not know the time of your visitation. (Luke 19:42-44) As the true prophet, Christ prophesies not only what will happen to Jerusalem but why these things will happen to it. The things that make for her peace are hidden from her eyes. God has not hidden the things that make peace from them. God came down from heaven in the person of Jesus. God assumed human flesh in order to teach the people the Gospel and atone for their sins so that all who believe and are baptized will be saved. But they will have none of it. Christ and the Gospel is hidden from their eyes not because God hides it from them, but because they turn their eyes away from Him, reject His Gospel, and judge themselves unworthy of salvation.
2) For this reason Jesus laments and weeps. He sees the judgment they collect for themselves. It is not one sin. It is a multitude of sins. As in the days of the prophet Jeremiah, prophesying immediately before the original temple was burned by the Babylonians, so it was in the days of Christ. To the eyes of flesh the city is beautiful. She has the temple, the dwelling place of God on earth. Walking through Jerusalem, the smell of the smoke from sacrifices fill the nostrils and the faint music of Levitical choirs chanting David’s psalms penetrate the ear. Externally it is wonderful. But Jesus sees a city of idolaters, men claiming to worship the true God while in their heart they seek to satisfy the god of wealth. He sees men worshiping in the Temple who only worship their own righteousness and good deeds. Christ sees men in the holy city worshiping the god of honor and reputation at the expense of others. These men have set up their idols in their hearts, and put before them that which causes them to stumble into iniquity. (Ezekiel 14:3) Christ sees men who possess the Word of God, men who have been given the oracles of God Himself, and they despise His Word, think it a little thing, and ignore it all while giving it lip service. They blind themselves with carnal security, relying upon these external things of temple, sacrifice and worship while in their heart the reject the Lord whom they confess with their lips.
3) This incident of Jesus weeping over Jerusalem is written for our learning, so that we might heed its warning and example. The sinful human flesh is always convinced that God will not judge its sin. When judgment for a particular sin does not come immediately, the flesh jumps at the instance of God’s silence in order to spur us on to more sin. The flesh interprets God’s patience as permission, just as Jerusalem had done for generations. But Jesus’ prophesy was clear and He is proven true by the events of 70 A.D. when Rome flatted Jerusalem to the ground. Judgment will come. The Lord does not tolerate sin because He is holy. It must and will be punished. This threat of judgment for our sins should move our stubborn hearts to sorrow over our sins and repent of them while there is still yet time. We should not say in a false sense of security, “I don’t sin that often!” or “My sins are not that grave or heinous.” We must not make excuses for them. To excuse them is to love them. Neither must be fool ourselves by pretending that we fear, love, and trust in God above all things at all times, that we are as diligent in prayer as He commands us to be, and that we esteem His Word as highly as we ought. So we must also learn from this example of the destruction of Jerusalem that spiritual pride is the chief sin, for it leads us to despise the Word of God in Holy Scripture and take the Sacraments of God, which are visible Words, lightly, thinking them small, and eventually trampling over them.
4) But there is another thing we ought to learn from this example in Holy Scripture. That is the mercy of God in Christ Jesus. Jesus does not flippantly wave off Jerusalem and say, “She’s damned, oh well.” He cares for the holy city. He cares for her inhabitants. He desires their earnest repentance, that they turn from their sins and amend their ways with the power of the Holy Ghost. It is Christ’s will that all be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth. The Lord does not desire the death of a single sinner, but that every sinner turns from his ways and by turning from sin and to God in faith, live. He is not a mean spirited God, like the God of John Calvin, who consigns many to Hell from eternity simply to demonstrate His almighty power. No, His almighty power is declared chiefly in showing mercy and pity. That’s what we said to Him in the Collect of the Day, isn’t it? God’s Word of Law is meant to condemn us so that we sorrow over our sins, repent of them, and then believe the Gospel that are sins are forgiven for Christ’s sake! Yes He is a God of Law. But He is also a God of Gospel. Psalm 101:1 says, I will sing of mercy and judgment: unto thee, O LORD, will I sing. David sins of mercy first because that is how God wants chiefly to be known by us. He condemns our sins, yes. But we confess them and repent of them because we know He is merciful towards sinners in Christ Jesus.
5) He demonstrates that mercy is a simple way in the second part of today’s gospel lesson. He enters the Temple and began to drive out those who bought and sold in it, saying to them, "It is written, 'My house is a house of prayer,' but you have made it a 'den of thieves.' And He was teaching daily in the temple. (Luke 19:45-47) Christ clears the Temple and restores it to its God-ordained purpose: teaching sinners the Word of God. Christ clears out the Temple, dethroning the false God of mammon, so that He can teach about the true God who loves the world enough to send His Only-Begotten Son into the world to bear its sin and be its savior. Christ teaches the people because He is gentle and humble of heart. He teaches because He has compassion on them, they were getting no teaching before, only a stewardship sermon and talk about money in the church! Now the gospel is brought to them and they lap it up because they are thirsty for salvation. The leaders despise the word taught by Jesus, but all the people were very attentive to hear Him. (Luke 19:48)
6) Christ’s mercy is shown in His death and resurrection, in His perfect life lived on our behalf. Christ’s mercy is shown in this as well, that He still teaches His church through faithful pastors and bishops, for pastors are sent to teach just as Christ Himself taught the Gospel. Christ’s mercy is shown in that He has not let His gospel pass over us like a fleeting cloud because of our sinfulness, but rather He has kept it among us in these days of distress. And whether we meet here in this beautiful building, in the home of a shut-in member, or in a home in Leander, the trappings make no difference. All that Christ uses to teach us His Gospel is the Word. Through that preaching and teaching of the Word Christ is teaching you His Gospel and giving and strengthening faith in your heart, so that you repent of your sins daily, believe the Gospel, and fight temptation, mortifying the flesh and cultivating good works for your neighbor. Jesus teaches and the people soak it up, they listen attentively. So we should learn from their example as well that this is how we are to hear the Gospel, attentively and gladly. This is in fact what Luther urges us to do in His explanation of the Third Commandment, We should fear and love God so that we do not despise preaching and His Word, but hold it sacred and gladly hear and learn it. If we despise God’s Word, either in gross external ways or within the secret recesses of our hearts, we run the risk of losing our faith and ending up under judgment as the Jews did. If we despise God’s Word in our hearts, thinking lightly of it, we will easily heap more and more sin upon our backs. By the grace of God may we hold it sacred and gladly hear and learn it whenever we have opportunity, and make opportunity if we it is not readily available.
7) These are stern words Jesus gives today, but they are to serve as a warning to His faithful. Sin will not go unpunished, so repent and believe in the one who has been punished for your sins already upon the tree of Calvary. Let us be careful and vigilant in how we hear the Word of God, that we not despise it or treat it as a little thing, but that we magnify it for what it is, the Word of God given to sinners so that may have Christ, and by having Christ have life by faith in His death for us. Amen.