St. Luke 19:41-48
9 August 2015
(Rev. Ralph Tausz 2011)
In the name of the Father, and of the Son, X and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Our Lord once drew near to a funeral procession and saw the tears of a widow weeping over the dead body of her only son. But Jesus had a comforting Word for her. “Do not weep.” And then He raised young man from the dead. He turned that mother’s weeping into joy.
Jesus once drew near to the house of Jairus and saw his tears. His twelve-year-old daughter had died. He had a Word for those parents. “Do not weep.” And He took the girl’s hand and raised her up. Jesus turned mourning into joy.
When they led Jesus to the cross, He was followed by a large group of women who were weeping and wailing about the brutal treatment and His impending death. Yet, somehow He mustered the strength to utter a word to them: “Do not weep.” Their sorrow would not turn to joy until He raised Himself from the dead three days later. But they would rejoice when His resurrection was proclaimed, and when the things that made for their peace were accomplished.
That’s what Jesus came to do—to draw near to broken hearts and give them joy and peace, to wipe away every tear from their eyes, to see the unspeakable sorrow of life in this world, and bring true joy into it.
So something very odd is happening in this morning’s Gospel. Jesus draws near to Jerusalem and He weeps. God cries. And we see what makes Him cry: no faith in Him. His Word and His peace not received. Love rejected.
You would have thought that Jerusalem would know the things that made for peace, because Jerusalem literally means, “city of peace.” God had sent prophet after prophet to that city to preach the things of peace, until finally He sent His Son. But they refused those things. They hardened their hearts to Jesus’ Words. They turned away from His outstretched arms. They did not want a Messiah who would die in their place, be crucified, have nails driven through His hands and feet, wear a crown of thorns. Those are the things that make for peace between God and man, but they refused.
If the city spurns the things of Jesus’ peace, all that’s left for them is the peace that the Romans bring—the Pax Romana. Jesus warns them that in about forty years—in 70 A.D—a Roman general named Titus would draw near and bring his version of peace. The things that brought Roman peace were things like cutting off Jerusalem’s food supply so that thousands of Jews would die, or resort to eating rats; Things like the alleys of Jerusalem clogged with thousands of corpses; Things like handing crosses to those who tried to climb the walls and escape. All this happened to Jerusalem in 70 A.D. because they didn’t find their peace in Jesus. They sought their own, worldly peace, and it led to their death; they did not seek the true peace that God offers-that leads to life. The Last Day will be much worse. No wonder Jesus weeps.
What kinds of peace are we seeking in the United States? The issues that dominate the internet and airwaves are homosexuality, abortion, economic success, endless war, and pleasure at all costs. We have the Word of God telling us those things are wrong, but this is not a time for us in the Church to grow self-righteous. This is a time for us weep and repent. For in this flesh, we are overcome with the temptations that are common to man (1 Cor. 10:13). We find ourselves striving to justify our sinful actions, our sinful words, our sinful thoughts and lusts; and that’s not finding your peace in Jesus. We find ourselves discontent with what God gives, nursing bitterness, stewing with resentment, harboring anger against our family and fellow Christians. None of these things make peace, we know that. We are accused by God’s Word. Those things destroy people, make us miserable, and make God weep—for He desires not the death of a sinner.
Repent. Today is the Day of your Visitation. Today you have a chance to do what Jerusalem refused to do. Today is not the day to say, “I’m baptized, therefore I can lie, cheat, steal, hate, lust, and live any old way I want.” Today is not the day to say, “I’m fine. I’m Lutheran. I can abuse my Gospel freedom any way I choose.” Today is the day to confess your sins and turn to Jesus. Repent and shed tears like Mary Magdalene and St. Peter, who wept as they confessed their own sin. Shed tears of repentance, but don’t despair. Jesus draws near not only to warn you in love, but to bring to you a Word of Peace and absolve you.
Today He reminds you what He did to make for your peace. He went to the cross for you before you even realized that’s what you needed. He took your sin upon Himself before you knew that sin and death had consumed you. He took what was common to man—sin and temptation, and gave you what was common to God—life and salvation. Stop hunting for a scapegoat for your troubles. Stop trying to justify yourselves. You have the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world, who gives you true peace.
Jesus entered the temple and drove out those who sold. He had to. He had make room for Himself, your loving Savior who came into the world not to sell, not to get anything out of you, but to freely give. He scattered the sacrificial animals, for what are those animals compared to Him, God’s final and complete sacrifice for your sins. Of course He overturned the tables, for He came to overturn the devil’s kingdom by making room for Him to teach that God’s righteousness comes by faith alone in Him alone. He overturned the tables, because He had a better table in view, one that He has set up in your midst and calls you to this morning. The Sacrament of His Body and Blood is a vehicle for Him to deliver the true peace of God into you—the Chalice filled with His Blood and the Bread which is His Body are your peace, your rest, your happiness, your hope and your joy.
There is a day coming when He will wipe away every tear from your eye forever. There is a day coming when the sin that lives in you will be cleared out once for all.
Until that great and final day of visitation, hear St. Paul’s word of comfort to the Philippians: “The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:5-7)
Rev. Michael N. Frese
Redeemer Lutheran Church
Fort Wayne, Indiana