Old Testament: Jer. 8:4-12
Epistle: 1 Cor. 12:1-11
Holy Gospel: Luke 19:41-48
Preached by Rev. Karl Davies, retired.
The Things that Make for Peace St. Luke 19:41-48
And when He (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.
✠ In Nomine Iesu ✠
It has often been said that some people have an attitude about life that may be described as thinking that their cup is only half full, and others, that their cup is half empty
While there are indeed some people in this world who tend to look at the negative and others who look at things very positively, by and large, people like to complain a lot. We often hear people complaining about all the other problems of life, weather, health and so on. Or about our husbands and wives or our children. Or children about their parents. It wouldn’t be normal if we didn’t. And, in a world that is full of problems and sins, it isn’t hard to find things or people to complain about.
The Bible, tells us to be content with such things as you have, and that Godliness with contentment is great gain. Yet the fact is that most people are never quite satisfied and are looking for that something that will make them satisfied. The blessings that we have and take for granted often become old and common, and we figure there’s something better out there. Or worse, we are disappointed with God, because He does not give something that we want.
Today’s Gospel takes us back to Lent. Jesus came to God’s people, He came to Jerusalem, the city of God. It was the Holy City, where the Holy Place–God’s Temple was–the place thought to be where God’s presence with His people was manifest. Everything was done right according to the Law of Moses. But they did not receive God’s Son, they were not happy with Him, and worse, they plotted against Him. They rejected Him and thus, as our Lord says
The Things that Make for Peace
I. No poor-mes for Jesus II. God’s judgment on rejection III. Christ’s cleansing of His Holy Temple
And so the Prince of Peace comes to Jerusalem, His final earthly destination. St. Luke tells us in chapter 9, “His face was set toward Jerusalem.” Our Lord knew what lay ahead of Him, as He told His disciples, “The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.” The welcoming crowds that cried “Hosanna in the Highest, Blessed is He who comes in the Name ofthe LORD,” showed the high expectations that so many had for this Son of David come to save His people. But looming ahead of Him was “Jerusalem,” not meaning everyone in the city, but in fact, the powers that be–the ruling council, the Pharisees, the high priesthood and the temple uppity-ups who were threatened by Him.
You see, it is often a misconception that those who called for his crucifixion were the same people who cried “Hosanna.” Dr. Paul Maier makes the point that there were still those who believed in Jesus. It was in fact a different crowd. St. Luke even tells us, “Pilate then called together the chief priests and the rulers and the people.”
On His way into the city, He stops briefly and weeps: And when He (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.
His weeping is not for Himself, even though by His divine knowledge, He is well aware of what is going to happen. No case of the “poor-me’s” for Jesus. He is weeping for the fact that they would not accept His gracious and peaceful visitation, and for the fact that judgment would fall on them–the city and the Temple would suffer utter destruction.
I don’t know truly if Jesus in glory weeps today, although He still is true God and true Man even as our Ascended Lord. But when Jesus weeps we might well say that He wept for all those who would reject God free gift of grace and salvation through what Jesus would do for the whole world. The epistle to the Hebrews tells us about Jesus’ attitude: “who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame.”
It is for unbelief and rejection that our Lord weeps, and not Himself. There are many sad things in the world today. Tragedy and evil things will continue to be part of our world. There are many that we have seen in the last few years and months. Even the people of God will not be spared the evils of this world. But the greatest tragedy is unbelief.
I read recently that the most growing religion in the world today is atheism. My wife and I visited Austria and the Czech Republic last year. In Austria, 70% of the population is Christian, mostly Roman Catholic. In the Czech Republic, 60% of the population is atheistic. In the city of Wittenberg, formerly in East Germany, only 17% of the people are baptized. Our LCMS is starting a mission there! In Western Europe, Christianity has lost much of its vitality, and has gravitated into a wishy washyness. In the Pacific northwest of the US, only 17% of the people belong to a church.
In our world today, people don’t seem to like the idea that there is sin and disobedience, so the list of things that are sinful is getting shorter and God becoming more distant and irrelevant.
In all this there is no humble yielding to the rule of God, and no sense of accountability. It is as Jesus once said of a crowd, people are like sheep without a shepherd. God has visited our planet in Jesus. God has come to redeem us from our sins and the hopelessness of unbelief. That is our world today.
The reality may well be cause for grief on our part, but certainly not a cause for hopelessness. For God’s call is to repentance and faith. Jesus knew what awaited Him when He went into Jerusalem, but He continued to fulfill the work that the Father had set before Him. He died and paid for the sins of unbelief and disobedience past and present. He rose to call all people to Himself in the Gospel. And, He has not given up on our world. As long as the Lord reaches out through the Gospel in the witness of the Church, the Holy Spirit calls to faith, obedience and eternal life. All the more should it cause us to be faithful and steadfast in our witness to Christ’s grace and love in the Gospel
In some very clear words, Jesus speaks of the coming destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple. ”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.”
Now these are not pleasant thoughts to think about on a quiet August evening/morning. We don’t have to look into the past to see what used to be called man’s inhumanity to man. We have seen the horrors of war on our televisions screens. How does God allow this, we might ask. Yet that question shows an unrealistic view of the hearts of men and of the grace that God does give us.
Jerusalem was destroyed in part because it no longer became the light to the nations that God intended that it should be. The city of Peace, became a city of political corruption and materialistic values. And they rejected the true Temple of God that came to them in Peace. We are told by historians that Christians in Jerusalem were given warning by prophecy to leave the city before the Romans came to destroy it. The city rose up in rebellion against Rome, following false prophets and false messiahs.
People don’t like the idea of God’s judgment today. God, if there is one, seems to be one that only winks at sin and disobedience, and says neither do I condemn you, go and sin some more. The gracious visitation of God in Word and Sacrament today may be rejected, but in time all knees must bow to the Son of God when He comes again in glory.
“Therefore, being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Best to know by faith that Christ has suffered the judgment of God for us in His suffering and death on the cross, and that when we come in repentance and faith to God today, we hear those real words of Jesus to the sinful woman, “Neither do I condemn you, go and sin NO more.” And we know that we are by the grace of God judged righteous because our Savior has been righteous for us, and He leads us to everlasting life no matter what may happen to us on earth.
Christ does not condemn His Holy Temple or forsake it. He cleanses it. “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.” And he was teaching daily in the temple.
The high priest and his associates lived a very comfortable life living by the perks and kickbacks of those who sold sacrificial animals and changed money–and these were necessary services in a way, but it did not belong in the Temple, especially since the sellers were crooks and thieves, robbing the people. Thus what was to be a holy place of prayer for all nations had become corrupt and evil.
By His cleansing and presence, Jesus brought the Temple back to its Holy purpose of marking the presence of God among His people–a place of peace, of redemption, of prayer, of God meeting man. We cannot help but think how the Church of Jesus Christ on earth continues to be plagued by the sins of mankind. People who bear the name of Christ, and claim Him as their Lord, live contrary to the will of God. Church leaders have fallen and continue to fall prey to the Evil One’s temptations. In the past a corrupt church hierarchy brought about the Lutheran Reformation. Where sin and corruption rule in the lives of the people of God, it casts a veil on the holiness of the Temple of God today, which is God’s people, built like living stones into it.
But Christ does not abandon His Church. No, it is within His Church that He cleanses His people through the preaching of the Word and the Holy Sacraments. He washes us in Holy Baptism, and feeds us with Holy Food in His Supper, the very Body and Blood that were given and shed for us on Calvary. We must never forget that the church is holy because Christ is Holy, and the cleansing of Christ is continuous for those who repent and call on His name.
Yes Jesus continues to teach in His Temple today. For here we learn the holy things of God in the midst of a world of doubt and unbelief. Here we find peace in a world which knows no real peace. Lord, may the things that make for peace never be hidden from our eyes.
✠ Amen ✠