St. Luke 19:41-48
August 20, 2017 A+D
In the Name of the Father and of the +Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Christ fulfills all of the Old Testament offices. As a prophet, He warns of the coming destruction of Jerusalem for their hypocrisy and weeps for them. He acts as the High Priest by cleansing the Temple and restoring it as a place of prayer where the faithful have safe access to God. He is received explicitly as the King who comes in the Name of the Lord. The Pharisees tell Him to rebuke the crowd for this but He won’t.
The destruction of Jerusalem is a type of the destruction to come on the Last Day. There is a judgment coming. Hypocrisy will not be tolerated. Hell will be horrific. We should repent now and receive the peace of God in Christ.
Though He is the priest, He comes to make Himself the offering. He lays down His life and is devoured in the fire of His Father’s wrath. His gift splits Temple veil and causes the dead to rise. He creates a new order, one which makes room for us, for Gentiles and sinners. There is no wall dividing Gentiles and Jews, men and women, priests and laity. He, Himself, becomes our Temple and House of Prayer. He will not allow the rich or the powerful or the smug to keep us away.
We call Him Lord for He is our ruler and our King. He rules in us by His grace. “For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 14:17, ESV)
One sin, that of Adam, led to condemnation for all. By his disobedience we were all made sinners. We were conceived as enemies of God. We have all added to that original sin with our own sins. In His mercy, God gave us His holy Law. Sin did not give to us the ability to know good and evil. It gave us only the ability to know evil. God gave His law to us to show us what is good and in the showing He levels at us a damning accusation. Sin that is exposed increases and death by that sin.
Christ draws near to Jerusalem as a Man under the Law though He is the Only Begotten of the Father, God of God, Light of Light. As a Man He is the consummation of the ages. He is come to inaugurate a new day. Even though He was conceived without sin and was never an enemy of God, He has taken on our sin, accepted the accusations against us, and He comes to submit even to the reign of death. That one act of righteousness, the holy love of our God and High Priest wherein He becomes the scape goat and the whole burnt offering and the sacrifice of peace, wherein He, Himself, is the holy incense and the meal offering and the Passover Lamb given for the sins of another, that one righteous act leads to justification and life for all men. For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one Man’s obedience the many will be made righteous. The law came to increase sin, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Christ draws near to the temporary and hypocritical Jerusalem to bring about an eternal and holy Jerusalem. The age of condemnation and death begun by Adam is passing away as He inaugurates and establishes the age of justification and life. The Day of Judgment takes place on the cross and every time a baby is baptized or a man is converted.. God makes for Himself a people who were no people. He brings them into the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ through water, bestowing upon them the Holy Spirit, faith, and His own precious Name. He reigns in us, as our King and Lord. The devil has lost his claim. We call neither death nor sin “Lord.” In Christ, we have eternal life. We are the Temples of the Holy Spirit. The Kingdom is within us.
And yet, that which He has begun is not yet complete. It is real but yet unseen. It is true and yet not all that we experience. We are holy but we still sin. We are His but we are subject to the sorrows of this life. We wait for the Lord. We trust that what He says is true even now though it cannot now be seen. Thus, with the whole church, we long for the consummation of the Kingdom and the day when it will be fully realized in us even as we confess that it is already ours.
Again: the destruction of Jerusalem is a warning. We are the baptized. We are a chosen race, not white or black, let alone German or Italian or Kenyan. We are human, descendants of Adam and Noah, the sons of God. We are a royal priesthood, a holy nation without a map or borders, a people for God’s own possession, from every tribe and nation and language, that we may proclaim the excellencies of Him who called us out of darkness into His marvelous light. Once we were not a people, but now we are God’s people; once we had not received mercy, but now we have received mercy.
And Jerusalem is a warning. The Kingdom is within us but we are in constant danger from the devil, the world, and our sinful nature. They threaten to divide us back into tribes and pit brother against brother, son against father. Once the people of Jerusalem were God’s people. They lived by grace through faith. But in the days of Christ’s Ministry on earth they had turned away and were destroyed. Once Germany and England, Italy and Ireland, were Christian nations as well. No more. What happened to those nations and cities can happen to our families and our souls.
Repent. Cling to the Word of God. Embrace and love the Law even while it accuses you for in it you know what is good and you know what is eternal.
Live as sojourners and exiles. Do not ever think that this world is your home. The map will keep changing until there is no map. This present city and nation will not last, but if Our Lord is still delayed they will go the way of old Jerusalem. Abstain from the passions of the flesh which wage war against your souls. Keep your conduct in the world honorable so that when they speak against you as an evildoer, as a bigot, a racist, or a close-minded fool, it will be false and despite what they say they will see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of judgment.
We do not entertain any illusions about the grimness of our age. We live in a dying world, desperate and afraid, violent and debased. But we have a Gospel to proclaim, good news for those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death, a Gospel more solid than monuments and cities, founded on the historical coming and triumph of Jesus Christ wherein God has reconciled Himself to us and gladly declares us righteous and forgiven for His sake. He is present now for us according to His promise in Word and Sacrament. He renews our Baptisms in the Absolution. He strengthens our faith with His risen Body and Blood. He speaks in His Word and He gladly hears and answers our prayers. Still, Jerusalem is a warning. We do not hold any illusions about our age, but neither do we despair because of it. We have a Prophet, a Priest, and a King who weeps over Jerusalem in compassion. We have a Savior fit to the task.
Come, Lord Jesus, come quickly!
In +Jesus’ Name. Amen.