Sermon for Trinity 10, August 20, 2017
Grace, mercy, and peace be yours in abundance from God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.
Luke 19:41-48 As he approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it 42 and said, "If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace—but now it is hidden from your eyes. 43 The days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment against you and encircle you and hem you in on every side. 44 They will dash you to the ground, you and the children within your walls. They will not leave one stone on another, because you did not recognize the time of God's coming to you." 45 Then he entered the temple area and began driving out those who were selling. 46 "It is written," he said to them, "'My house will be a house of prayer'; but you have made it 'a den of robbers.'" 47 Every day he was teaching at the temple. But the chief priests, the teachers of the law and the leaders among the people were trying to kill him. 48 Yet they could not find any way to do it, because all the people hung on his words.
Dear beloved in Christ,
Several years ago, a young lady came to my office at the church in Klamath Falls, asking for some help with a bill, and when I invited her to hear the message of salvation, she said, “God’s not happy with me anymore.” That young woman had done some terrible things, and she was thereafter afraid to face God in any way, so she went into hiding from God and His grace.
Several years later, I met with an elderly man who told me he no longer needed to attend church or receive the Lord’s Supper. He knew he was a sinner who needed daily repentance, but he thought he no longer needed the strength and assurance Jesus gives. In reality, this man was hiding from God behind the façade of an over-confident strength in his own faith.
In the Bible, we see a number of people who hid from God. Adam and Eve hid when they sinned. They became afraid to face their perfectly holy Lord. King David committed adultery and tried to hide that sin by committing murder! The crazy part about all this hiding from God is that the Bible, and especially this text, makes it clear How earnestly Jesus wants to save you.
The moments Luke reports here occurred at what looked like Jesus’ great triumph. Jesus was approaching Jerusalem for the final time, and crowds of people went before Him, and followed after, shouting, "Hosanna to the Son of David!" "Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!" "Hosanna in the highest!" (Matthew 21:9) Jesus’ enemies tried to get Him to command His followers to be quiet, but Jesus replied, "I tell you, if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out." (Luke 19:40) To the world, it looked like Jesus had reached the pinnacle of success, but as He reached the peak of the Mount of Olives, just as He could look out over the city of Jerusalem, Jesus wept, and in that moment, we see How earnestly Jesus wants to save you.
When Jesus paused there, He knew what lay ahead for Him. He knew that those same people singing His praises were going to be shouting for His crucifixion in just a few days. He knew exactly how His enemies would finally get the chance to carry out their wicked plans. Jesus knew the pain and excruciating torment that lay ahead for Him. But, Jesus didn’t cry for Himself. He wasn’t afraid to suffer that torment. He didn’t even cry in sorrow because He knew His own dear friends were going to betray Him. Rather, Jesus wept because He knew that so many of the people He was willing to give His life to save would continue to hide from His love and mercy. Jesus wept because He wanted to save every sinner, including you and me, and it grieved Him that many of the people who lived in the city known as “the foundation of peace” would never get to enjoy the peace He was winning for them. “As he approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it and said, ‘If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace—but now it is hidden from your eyes.’”
If only the people of Jerusalem would have recognized Jesus as the Son of God He is, they would have been saved from sin and death. Then, even if or when Rome decided to destroy the city, they would have enjoyed eternal life with Jesus in heaven. But, God’s promised Messiah was hidden to the people of that great city by their own ignorance, self-righteousness, and greed. Thus, Jesus prophesied, “The days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment against you and encircle you and hem you in on every side. They will dash you to the ground, you and the children within your walls. They will not leave one stone on another, because you did not recognize the time of God's coming to you."
So, how about you and me, do we hide from God? How many of us don’t think it’s important to be in church on a regular basis? How many of us don’t really want to confess every sin we commit? How many of us aren’t too concerned if our children or our neighbors are chasing after other ideas, entertainments, and religions that focus on self rather than the salvation Jesus offers? How many of us are quietly hoping that God doesn’t notice all of our sins?
As we compare the numbers claimed on our membership rolls to the average attendance at worship, it looks like we have our work cut out for us. The truth is, it is natural for us to be afraid to face God. It is natural for us to want to hide our sins. Our sinful nature wants to put selfish desires ahead of walking with Jesus, especially when that walking becomes hard. Sinful man doesn’t want to be found guilty. That’s likely why so many young people stop going to church when they first move away from home. It’s easy to think, subconsciously, that if we don’t come into church God won’t judge us for our sins. That’s also why people who know they are sinning often don’t show up in church. And that’s why it is easy for many pious believers to think that we are safe from God’s judgment if we do live a good life. However, there is a warning for all of us in this text.
The warning for all of us is that there is a Judgment Day coming for everybody. No one will be able to avoid meeting God face to face. And when we do, our sins will be there for God and the world to see—unless—unless we are hidden in Jesus. Therefore, how important it is to know How earnestly Jesus wants to save you.
Jesus wept for those who rejected Him, for those who never knew Him, and for those who mistook Him as just a prophet or teacher. Jesus wept even for those who were cheating His beloved people by turning God’s temple into a place of business rather than a refuge of peace and prayer.
I wonder how many people avoid church because they think we are only in it for the money. How many of our friends are afraid to come in, because they don’t want to feel judged, either by God or us, or themselves? Sometime after Jesus wept for Jerusalem and the people who rejected Him, “He entered the temple area and began driving out those who were selling. "It is written," He said to them, "'My house will be a house of prayer'; but you have made it 'a den of robbers.'" Jesus had the ultimate passion for saving the sinners of the world. He didn’t just weep for us. He went to war with the forces of evil every day of His life, and even here, when He knew His enemies would redouble their efforts to kill Him for His actions, Jesus chased them out of the temple His Father in heaven had provided to tell the story of His grace.
Right up until the authorities came to arrest Him, Jesus kept on teaching, kept on strengthening the faith of His beloved disciples, and kept on living the perfectly compassionate life God demands from each of us. How earnestly Jesus wants to save you.
The people who praised Jesus as He entered the city kept on listening to His words with rapt attention. They wanted to know more and more. We know that after His crucifixion and resurrection from the dead, many of those people did finally come to faith in Jesus as their Savior. However, most of the residents of Jerusalem ultimately rejected Jesus, and His followers, even to the point of driving the believers out of the city. Their judgment came at the hands of the Roman armies who carried out the warning given here when they besieged the city, and then destroyed it, razing it to the ground and killing all but a small remnant that was carried off into slavery and mockery as defeated rebels.
The point of all of this for you and me, dear friends, is that we must never forget that we too will stand in judgment someday. What is in our hearts and minds cannot be hidden from God. At the same time, Jesus wants us never to forget the mercy God has shown us in His dear Son. Jesus willingly walked this earth living for us the perfect holiness we needed to be right with God forever. Jesus willingly suffered the burden of our unrighteousness, and the torment of our deserved punishment, so that God can be merciful to us and willingly forgive us. In fact, because of Jesus’s sacrifice on our behalf, the Lord God has declared, “I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more." (Hebrews 8:12)
What does Jesus want for us today? He wants the same thing for you and me, and for all of our friends and neighbors, that He wanted for Jerusalem. He wants us to come to Him with the burdens of our sins. He wants us to come before Him confessing all that might interfere with us standing before God’s throne of glory. Jesus wants to heal every sin sick soul, so that nothing may keep us away from the paradise God has planned for us. Jesus wants us to walk with Him day by day, not to gain our salvation, but so that He can keep us steadfast in the grace and mercy and faith He has granted us. Jesus wants to feed us with the nourishing bread of His holy, saving Word and heal us with the powerful medicine of His body and blood which brings to us again, each time we partake, the forgiveness of sins and the unparalleled righteousness He lived for us as He walked this earth in human flesh.
Dear friends, Jesus wants us to live holy lives as becomes His brothers and sisters in His kingdom, but when we fall, the Father continues to reach out to us with open arms, ready and willing to forgive us for Jesus’ sake. Why would we run and hide? Why would anyone want to face God’s judgment alone? “God made Him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.” (2 Corinthians 5:21) "Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened,” Jesus said, “and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28) How earnestly Jesus wants to save you! Amen.
Receive with believing hearts the blessing of our God: The peace of God which passes all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus unto life everlasting. Amen.