July 31, 2016 A+D
St. Luke 19:41-48
In the Name of the Father and of the +Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
On the Sunday before He was betrayed, before He was scourged and crucified, the Lord pulled up over the City of Peace and wept for the fate of those who did such terrible things to Him. Human love needs human meriting. Even a mother who loves her unborn child expects reciprocity. But the Lord who lays down His life for His enemies loves them not only before they love Him back but even after and while they reject Him.
Their fate would come in 70 AD when Titus laid siege to Jerusalem, when the lies were exposed and Satan snatched his prey.
The Lord wept for them for they went where they needed not to go, they suffered that which they needed not to suffer, they paid for sins already paid for. His love and sacrifice were wasted on them. That caused Him to weep but not to stop.
There is a kind of sad side of the Gospel: though Jesus dies for all and reconciles His Father to all of the world, most reject it. They insist on their own way. Not everyone dies and goes to a better place. Some die and go to a far worse place.
Repent. Jerusalem is a warning. It is highly likely that Titus’ troops killed more than rebellious Jews and immoral Gentiles. It is highly likely that Christians died in that tragedy and that they suffered no less in the horrors of that slaughter than the pagans. But then it was over for them. Then the weeping was done as they were welcomed home, to a place not of weeping and gnashing of teeth, not of a tooth for a tooth or a place to make one’s own way in war and strife, but home to the Lord, a place of laughter and singing, a place of beauty and rest and peace. They did go to a better place even though they lived in a wicked city. They went to the heavenly Jerusalem by grace, because they knew the Prince of Peace.
This is a warning that we should repent and examine our lives. This world is not our home. And if we’ve been living as though it were, we are in danger. If we hang our hope on the next election, or a new medicine or diet, or on some person or ideology or technology, if we think that if only had enough money or lost a few pounds or could take back some foolish mistake then we could make this world a good place– then we are bound to come to the fate of Jerusalem unawares and likely unprepared.
Things are not going to get better. Like our bodies, this world is aging and we can’t make it young again. We are not progressing. The world is not becoming more civilized. As it marches toward death, it is becoming more frail and more wicked. What is wrong with this world is what was wrong with Titus and Jerusalem: it is full of sin and it is at war with God because it knows not what makes for peace. So it is with you. What ails you is not lack of funds or education, nor alack of influence and power.
What makes for peace? The Prince of Peace who comes to the City of Peace as a Peace Offering. He makes for more than an interlude between wars, more than a peace secured by threat of violence. He makes for peace in the hearts of humanity by giving Himself as a ransom and substitionary atonement for the sins of the world. He, Himself, is the Lamb that is slaughtered and is the scape goat that is banished. He wipes clean the slate of men and their histories. He reconciles them to His Father. He rises from the death, vindicated. He is innocent and His Word is true. And though His disciples are still full of fear, He comes to them, in His Body, through locked doors and breathes peace fulfilling the song of the angels to shepherds in their fields.
He makes for peace whether we want it or not. He weeps for those who deny themselves the benefit of His sacrifice but He does not stop.
So we repent. We are the Temples of the Holy Spirit and He comes to sweep us clean, to rid of us of that which seeks to buy and sell, which stands in the way of righteousness and faith. He comes to us, His Temples, with Peace in the Sacrament. There He prepares us to face, if we must, the destruction of America, the destruction of our families, and the destruction of our bodies – because they goods, fame, child, and wife – they yet have nothing won. The kingdom ours remaineth. We have peace with God. He has bought us and washed us. He has named us and fed us. He will not let us go. We are His and He is coming back to get us.
In the Sacrament, in His Word, in the Absolution, we are ready. We are ready to leave this war torn world of slander and vice. We cast our burdens upon the Lord. We rejoice in the peace that passes all understanding. He will sustain us and in Him there will be better days.
In +Jesus’ Name. Amen.