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“The Peace of Jerusalem” Luke 19.41-48 Trinity 10 sermon


10th Sunday after Trinity

St. Peter Lutheran Church

St. Luke 19:41-48 (Jer. 8:4-12)

August 12, 2012

“The Peace of Jerusalem”

 

Dear Congregation, called together by Jesus Christ to be God’s dwelling place forever:

 

Grace and peace to your from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. 

 

Let us pray:

Almighty, Eternal God!  You have revealed and made known Your Word to us through Your Holy Spirit, concerning Your Son, Christ Jesus.  We pray, awaken our hearts, that we receive Your Word with seriousness and not beat the air or listen casually or indifferently, as did Your people, the unbelieving Jews.  Grant us, in true fear and faith towards You, to live in Your grace and to daily increase in it, and finally to come to eternal blessedness, through Your Son, Jesus Christ.  Amen. Johannes Eichorn (1511-1564)

 

  1. 1.         Intro: Letting wayward children have their way.

 

I can remember my grandfather taking me into his office and having a talk with me when I was a teenager.  I’m pretty sure my mother asked him to do it.  I was probably about 14 or 16. 

 

It was strange because I couldn’t remember my grandpa ever talking to me about anything personal.  He was strict.  He had spent his whole life as the headmaster of a primary school for the children of missionaries out in central Africa.  He came from an exceedingly strict church—not just strict in doctrine but in life, in the pursuit of holiness.  So my grandpa would talk with my dad or mom about theology or politics or Africa in a very intellectual way, but also a very—seemingly—unemotional way.

 

So he took me into his office, sat me down, and started talking to me man to man, and it was very unusual.  He said something like, “I understand you’ve been getting into some trouble with the friends you’ve been hanging around with.”  Then he asked me about where my interests in school were and what kind of plans I had for what I would do with my life.  And he told me about his teenage years, before he felt that God was calling him into the mission field, how he was getting into trouble for skipping school to play handball and I’m not sure what else.  And then he said, essentially, “If your friends are causing you to stumble, keeping you from doing God’s will, you just have to let them go.” 

 

Did I listen?  I heard him, but I didn’t obey.  It wasn’t really about my friends then, though.  It was really about the way my mind was set.  I did not at all have a heart that was fixed on Christ and wanted to do His will.  What 14 or 16 year old does, many ask.  Wise 14 or 16 year olds.  Blessed ones.  In fact, what 34 year old has a heart fixed on Christ that wants to do His will?  Only those whom the Holy Spirit has given repentance and faith in Jesus alone.

 

But my grandpa was trying to turn me from the error of my way.  He knew that to set up your own life apart from the Word of God is to choose pain and destruction and grief.  And if one won’t listen to God’s Word, eventually eternal punishment is the result.  When God’s Word is persistently rejected, when the Holy Spirit is resisted again and again, the time comes—we don’t know when—when God allows the rebellious person, or nation, or congregation, or denomination—to have its way.

 

Sometimes parents have this experience.  They fight with their kids and do not allow their kids to do what everyone else is doing.  The fashion now is to let kids decide everything for themselves.  But when your kid is in your house and under your authority, it is your responsibility to set rules for them—to make sure they hear God’s Word and learn it, to discipline them when they do wrong but also to proclaim the forgiveness of sins to them—because it is the Gospel that changes sinners so that they begin to do God’s will gladly and willingly instead of to avoid punishment.  Still, parents can’t refuse to punish their children, unless they want their children to learn that forgiveness is just a license to do evil.

 

But there comes a time when there is no more you can do for your children.  Sometimes—frequently—people have their hearts set on foolishness and evil.  The worst case of this is not when a person wants to break the law or choose a career path that won’t result in a good job.  The worst case is when your child refuses to listen to God’s Word and rejects repentance and faith in Christ.  Sometimes kids do this right out in the open: “I just really don’t believe what the church teaches anymore.  Christianity has been the source of so much oppression—of women, of non-european people…” Other times kids still profess to believe in Jesus, but they have no desire for His Word and Sacraments.  Or they still attend church, but their lives testify to rebellion against God’s Word.

 

Sometimes you have spoken the word to your children, warned them, prayed for them, spoken gently to them—done everything you know how to do—but they won’t listen.  And sometimes then you are faced with the painful reality that your kids are going to reject God’s Word and there is nothing you can do besides pray for them.  That is a painful experience.

 

God also meets with rejection from His children.  And though God is able to force us to do His will He does not do so.  It is a mystery we cannot comprehend, but when a person trusts Christ alone it is the work of the Holy Spirit, not their own. 

 

Yet unbelief is our own rebelliousness.  It comes from rejecting the word.  God permits himself to be rejected.

 

Today we see Jesus’ reaction to the rejection of the children that the Lord had carried so long.  He weeps.  Then he begins to show his anger and the way he will drive out of His house those who  will not hear His word and who wish to set up their own worship in His house. 

 

2.  The people of Israel, false Christians, and our sinful flesh insist on a false peace and security based on some goodness or deserving in us, and so reject Christ when He comes (and finally will be cut off).

 

                 Jeremiah: “They have rejected the word of the Lord.”

 

God’s presence would destroy us if it was naked; so He veils it.  He hid His glory behind the curtain in the temple.

 

Because God’s holy presence leaves us “undone” (Isaiah), we cover it up and invent  our own ways to enter His presence;

The house of God was not a house of prayer, but became a religious spectacle where you paid your fee, did your religious work and went home.

                Like the Hajj to Mecca for Muslims.

                 Like the indulgence, mass, and relic trade in the Catholicism of Luther’s day (and also today in a less crass form.)

 

Instead God wanted that people enter His presence—which is dangerous and deadly to sinners—with a good conscience through faith in the sacrifice which God would provide and which were pointed to by the temple sacrifices.

They were to come with nothing of their own but trust in God alone to be propitious—to be satisfied with them on account of the sacrifice which He would provide.

But when the Messiah came whom God had long promised to this rebellious house of Israel—the one whom prophets like Jeremiah proclaimed when the people would be crushed after their rebellion had brought punishment on themselves—they rejected Him.

              Even at this point many people would listen to Jesus.  Jesus was impressive;  like the Old Testament prophets, He dared boldly to rebuke the leaders, tell them they were wicked, demand repentance, clean the temple out, predict the destruction and desolation of the temple because of the rebellion of the people.  People were willing to listen because it was impressive, and to see His miracles.  But the majority of the crowds did not believe that He was the promised one who would take away the sins of the world.  They didn’t believe in their need for such a Savior; they believed in their own goodness coupled with their obedience to the rules propounded by their leaders.  They did not repent and believe.

Through most of the last 2000 years most of our ancestors were like the crowds…they heard from Jesus a lot, and everyone said they loved Him.    But most did not really believe in Him.  Now the crowds have turned against Jesus, but that doesn’t mean the church is any worse off than it was before.

 

 What was God to do with this rebellious house?  He weeps over their destruction.

                When we refuse Christ when He comes to us in His Word, when He visits us in His Word, we put ourselves in danger of also being cast  off,  hardened, so that God will no longer wrestle with us.

                Don’t put off following Christ until tomorrow. 

 

We, like the Jews, would like to have a more comfortable way into the presence of God that can be achieved by the exercise of our will.

We forget to fear the Lord who is present with us in His House in Word and Sacrament. 

We forget that Jerusalem was razed  with “her children within her.”  That we have deserved the same.

 

God’s wrath on those who will not have His word is severe.

 

When we insist that we are “good Christians,” His wrath terrifies us with the word of John the Baptist: “Repent, brood of vipers!”  “Good Christians” can put in religious duties and then feel  like they’ve done well.

 

Real Christians come into God’s presence knowing they ought to die; yet they boldly come before Him through the blood of His Son alone.

 

 

 

3.  Jesus visits us to be our peace and builds us on Him alone, through faith, as God’s eternal house or dwelling or temple.

 

Peace with God—shalom—well-being, blessing, is a pure gift of God to sinners.

 

He gives us peace through His blood.

 

We do not need to invent cute ways of making it possible for us to enter His presence; to enter His presence is death, and yet we do not receive death.  It’s not because we pretend that God’s presence does not destroy the sinful; but because we trust the blood of the lamb shed for us.

 

                The temple worshippers were not to pay attention to their work, or to the big crowds, or the impressive temple, or the “temple-approved” sacrifices they were buying with their “temple grounds” money. 

 

                They were to pay attention only to the promise of the sacrifice that God would provide that would come and be a fulfillment of all the sacrifices the temple offered.

 

Jesus’ blood and righteousness—Jesus alone, God and man, and His suffering and death—He is the cornerstone on which God would build His eternal temple—the church, the assembly of believers in Christ.

 

A Christian looks in himself and sees nothing worthy of anything except God’s wrath; he looks at Jesus suffering on the cross and sees the absolute assurance of the forgiveness of sins and the ability for a damnable sinner to enter the presence of the Holy One.

 

He looks to the name of God in Baptism which was given to him—a covenant swearing that God receives us as His own sons, apart from works, through Christ.

 

                Jesus visits us today just as He did Jerusalem. 

He visits us to bring us peace.  He did not desire the destruction of Jerusalem, but its salvation.   Their rejection brought damnation.

 

Jesus comes to give us peace; His body under the bread and His blood under the wine—they are our peace with God.  They were given and shed to make peace for us, and He gives them to us now so that, eating them with faith in the promise, we would be assured of peace with God.

 

                Jesus will run out of His church every device of man, every sin in our flesh, every work of the   spirit of Antichrist that now oppresses the church and keeps people from the true and living God.

 

The Jews because of their rejection of the Word were keeping people from God.  The big animal market and spectacle made the temple worship an exaltation of human works and religiosity instead of a house of prayer—that is, communion with God through the Holy Spirit dwelling in our hearts.

 

Jesus was filled with anger and drove all of them out.

 

Then by the shedding of His blood He inaugurated the true and lasting house of God—the church.

 

Even now He visits and casts out of His church those traditions of men that obscure the law of God and the Gospel of God; the law which hits blind and lying sinners like a hammer, saying, “Repent or be damned;”

 

The gospel which speaks to those crushed by the law, and does not instruct about works or ceremonies, but simply proclaims; “The Son of God suffered for your wickedness on the cross. You are washed in His blood; You are forgiven.”

 

That word attacks Satan’s lies and traditions even now;

In Luther’s day it greatly undermined the Antichrist’s kingdom of false worship; even today there are a great number of Christians who no longer fear the lying pope who claims to be the Lord of Christendom on earth and claims to have the final word on the doctrine and discipline of Christ’s Church.

 

Today the word attacks also the foolish lie that God has no wrath and we need not fear Him, but instead can make church safe and fun and appealing to the world, with latte stands and snack bars—thus turning the house of God into a mall instead of a house of prayer.

 

                                But on the last day the Word will finally drive out all oppressors from God’s church—whether false teachers, or the evil that still lives within the flesh of Christians—

 

The church will appear in the splendor of Christ which He gave to us in Baptism;

 

He will already have cast out the wickedness of our flesh;

 

And no false teachers or devils will ever again set up their trade within God’s holy dwelling;

That holy dwelling is you, Christ’s holy bride.

4.  Conclusion: Though you have a rebellious nature still, Jesus still visits you today and builds you together as His eternal dwelling through His death for you.

 

Amen.

 

 

 

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