Home > Trinity 6-15 > Trinity 10, 2015–The Things that Make for Peace with God

Trinity 10, 2015–The Things that Make for Peace with God


10th Sunday after Trinity

St. Peter Lutheran Church

St. Luke 19:41-48

August 9, 2015

“The Things that Make for Peace with God”

Iesu Iuva

Jesus approaches Jerusalem, riding on a donkey’s colt. Around Him is the crowd that has greeted Him with palm branches as the King who comes in the Name of the Lord. They are rejoicing because He is coming to the city of God, the city where God dwells in the temple. They believe that when He arrives peace will come to Jerusalem and from there to all the earth.

But when Jesus sees Jerusalem rising in the distance he begins to weep. “If you, even you, had known on this day the things that make for peace,” He cries. “But now they are hidden from your eyes.” Peace is not going to be the result of His coming, but rather devastation. The enemies of Jerusalem will besiege it, burn it and its temple to the ground, slaughter hundreds of thousands of its inhabitants. All this will happen because they did not know the time of their visitation by God. They did not know the things that belonged to their peace.

Jerusalem thought that it already had peace with God. All the cities on the earth were filled with temples dedicated to the worship of demonic idols. But Jerusalem was built around the temple dedicated to the one God who made earth and heaven. All day long the blood and smoke of sacrifices poured out in pagan cities to honor those that were not gods at all. But in Jerusalem every morning and evening a whole bull burned on the altar to remember and honor the Lord. Every day the priests that God Himself had ordained carried out the duties of the divine worship that He had assigned them. They offered sacrifices for sin, sacrifices of thanksgiving. They burnt incense in the Most Holy Place before the presence of the Lord. Once every year they entered behind the curtain into God’s presence on earth and sprinkled blood to make atonement for the people, so that the Holy God could dwell in the midst of sinners and not destroy them. All these practices were carried out regularly. God had commanded them. And the leaders of the people of Jerusalem believed that through them they had peace with God. They believed He was pleased with them because they performed the worship He commanded.

But now Jesus is saying that God is not at peace with them. The things that belong to their peace are hidden from them. They are actually at war with God despite their temple and sacrifices. And Jesus weeps for them because He knows that the only result of warfare with God is destruction.

The blood of bulls and goats cannot make peace with God. God commanded that these sacrifices be made, but they could not take away God’s wrath against sinners. The leaders of Jerusalem didn’t know this. They didn’t know the things that belonged to their peace. So Jesus entered the temple in anger and zeal to clear it out and make room for His own teaching, which does give peace with God.

The world is no different today. It doesn’t know the things that make for peace with God. Today people don’t perform blood sacrifice to God. In fact more and more any kind of public honor and worship of God seems to be declining. People believe that they have peace with God without being involved in the public worship of His name. They believe that they have peace with God without any sacrifices. They believe that God lets just about everyone into heaven when they die, as long as they have made some effort to be good or at least have a good excuse. They don’t believe that God is angry with us because of our lack of fear, love, and trust in Him and because of our selfishness toward our neighbor. They think they already have peace with God.

But to stubbornly trust in your own goodness when God calls you to repent is warfare with God. Our world is at war with God. They reject the peace that God sends. He sends His Son in our flesh to give us peace with Him. But the world doesn’t believe it needs Jesus. God is already at peace with us, it insists.

Even within the visible boundaries of the Church, there are many who do not know the things that make for peace with God. They say they believe in Jesus but they live like those who reject Him.   Jesus visits us in the Church. He comes to us in flesh and blood in His preaching and in His supper. He teaches us and gives Himself to us. But man y who have the name of Christians don’t come out to Jesus when He visits. They act like our world, which believes it has God apart from Christ. They say they believe in Jesus, but they ignore Him and stay away from Him when He comes.

And what about those of us who are here, who do come to hear Jesus when He visits us? Aren’t we often like the people in the temple? They were so distracted with their work of buying animals for sacrifice that they missed the whole point of the public worship of the temple. It wasn’t so that people could make sacrifices and thereby merit God’s pleasure and peace. The purpose of the temple worship was to put before the people’s eyes their sin and their need of a priest to make satisfaction for it. The sacrifices and the priesthood of the temple were not what made peace with God, but they pointed to what was coming that would truly make peace and purify from sin.

The things that make for peace with God are also not all our works and efforts to care for the church, even though those efforts are necessary and good. The things that make for peace with God are Jesus’ suffering and death on the cross. There God provided a spotless lamb, a man who was innocent from all stain of sin and who was God with the Father from eternity. He was given by God the Father to make peace for us by His agony, suffering, and death in our place. God is not pleased with us without a sacrifice. In that respect the ancient world was smarter than our world today. They knew there needed to be a sacrifice of blood to remove our guilt before God, to make peace for us. But they were wrong about what the sacrifice was. The sacrifice is provided by God. It is His only-begotten Son. By His one sacrifice He takes away all the sin of the world. He makes peace with God for us.

This peace with God has been prepared and accomplished by Jesus’ suffering on the cross. The reason why we are gathered together for public worship is so that this sacrifice that Jesus made that brings peace can be proclaimed. It is proclaimed to us for the forgiveness of our sins in the preaching and in the Lord’s Supper. But it is also proclaimed by us as we gather and receive the message of peace with God through His blood. Paul says, “As often as you eat this bread and drink this cup of the Lord, you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes.” When the Lord Jesus has consecrated the bread and wine to be His body and blood, He proclaims through the minister, “The peace of the Lord be with you always.” This is not just a greeting or a wish. The peace of God is with us because Jesus has made atonement for us through the sacrifice of His life on the cross. We are about to receive a share in that sacrifice as we eat His body and drink His blood. And as we do, we are also remembering and proclaiming before the world the death of Jesus that makes peace with God for us.

“Therefore, being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” Peace with God is obtained only through hearing what Jesus has done for us and believing it. We are justified by faith alone. It is a free gift. By faith alone in what Jesus did on Calvary we receive the peace that He made with God for us by the sacrifice of His body on the cross.

The world does not know or believe in that peace. It thinks it has peace with God on its own merits. That’s why we gather to the Church where Christ visits us bodily in word and sacrament. We come to receive forgiveness of our sins, to receive the peace that He won for us. But we also remember, proclaim, and give thanks for His sacrifice where He won us peace. In doing this we offer sacrifices that truly please God. They are not the sacrifices we do to justify ourselves but to praise and thank and proclaim the honor of Him who made peace for us on the cross.

How blessed we are to have peace with God, solely through the sacrifice of Christ! Whether the world smiles at us or no, whether death comes near, we have peace with God. God is not angry with us but pleased. Even the city of Jerusalem with its temple couldn’t boast of this. But we can, through Christ’s cross.

As we gather together we proclaim the things that truly make for peace with God. We proclaim by receiving Jesus’ blood, sacrifice, and righteousness. Come receive the things that have made peace with God for you—Jesus’ body and blood. And as you receive, you proclaim to the world that Jesus Christ alone gives us peace with God.

Amen.

SDG

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