St. Luke 19
August 8, 2021 A+D
In the Name of the Father and of the +Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Here is the section from Isaiah that Jesus is referencing when He cleanses the Temple amd calls it a House of Prayer:
The Lord says: “Do not let the son of the foreigner Who has joined himself to the Lord Speak, saying, “The Lord has utterly separated me from His people”; Nor let the eunuch say, “Here I am, a dry tree.” For thus says the Lord: “To the eunuchs who keep My Sabbaths, And choose what pleases Me, And hold fast My covenant, Even to them I will give in My house And within My walls a place and a name Better than that of sons and daughters; I will give them an everlasting name That shall not be cut off. “Also the sons of the foreigner Who join themselves to the Lord, to serve Him, And to love the name of the Lord, to be His servants— Everyone who keeps from defiling the Sabbath, And holds fast My covenant— Even them I will bring to My holy mountain, And make them joyful in My house of prayer. Their burnt offerings and their sacrifices Will be accepted on My altar; For My house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations.” The Lord God, who gathers the outcasts of Israel, says, “Yet I will gather to him Others besides those who are gathered to him.”” (Isaiah 56:3–8, NKJV)
God has never been a racist. He does not judge men by their DNA, the surname of their mothers, or by the color of their skin or eyes. What pleases Him and makes men and women His children is faith. No son of a foreigner who has joined Himself to the Lord should think that he is separate from God’s people even though he was not a biological son and might look different. Nor should any eunuch, who cannot have children, and was raised by pagans, was mutilated and even did cruel things himself, of which he now repents, think that he is a dry tree, forsaken by God. God’s purpose and desire is to unite all of humanity under the single roof of His grace. He says that He will give to these foreigners His house and a name better than sons and daughters, a name that lasts forever. They will not be cut off.
He says that He will bring them to the holy mountain. He will make them joyful in His house of prayer. Their sacrifices will be accepted. Thus shall His house, the House of God, be called a house of prayer for all Gentiles.
But Jesus discovers a problem. The money changers are denying the Gentiles a place to pray. They have made the court of the Gentiles into a marketplace where they profit at the misery of others.
Jesus fulfills His Father’s will not only by dying for the Gentiles but also by making room for them in His Father’s house. This He finishes when He gives up the ghost on the cross and the Temple veil is torn in two and then He seals the deal when He rises from the dead and the Temple guards are frozen as though they are dead and there are no more divisions in the Temple.
There is a subtle and profound point here that might get lost in translation. Christ calls the Temple and God’s people His Father’s house. Through Isaiah He says He will bring the Gentiles to His House and make them joyful there even as He gives them His name forever.
But here our translators are too literal. I don’t often say this, but in this place English is more flexible and nuanced than either Hebrew or Greek. But the translators are wooden. For both Hebrew and Greek have a single word, where English has two. We make a distinction between a house and home.
God promises to bring repentant Gentiles, eunuchs, and all who believe in Him, even Jews, home, not just to His home, but to their home. They don’t come as guests. They are family. He gives them His Name forever.is family.
We live in an age of exclusion and contradictions. Tolerance is a cover for intolerance and bigotry. Speech is used not to communicate or teach but to obfuscate and accuse. Natural families are despised. Unnatural relations are celebrated. Everyone watches his words and his associations for fear of the secret police. For if they are not yet imprisoning us for what our overlords in the media, big tech, and the government say we should not think, we know they are shaming us, bullying us, and threatening our livelihoods.
What we need now, more than ever, is the family of God. Persecution has already begun. The end is near. God does not ask us to stick it out alone. He setteth the solitary into families. He calls us home to pray without fear – whatever our past or the color of our skin. He calls us to love and support one another, with prayer and with our presence and with our finances.
Jesus tells us Do not let the son of the foreigner Who has joined himself to the Lord Speak, saying, “The Lord has utterly separated me from His people.” We don’t care if you haven’t belonged to this Church your whole life or never heard of the Small Catechism until today or aren’t that keen on Lutheran Chorales. We don’t care if you just started coming or have been coming on and off for years. We don’t if your earthly heritage is German or Korean or Persian, if your parents were Hindu or Muslim or Presbyeterian. We don’t care about the color of your skin or the shape of your eyes or how much money you have in the bank. Do not say, “I am an outsider. This is someone else’s church.” This is your church. We are your family even as Jesus is your Lord. We all have our problems and we all fail one another from time to time, but we are all in this together. God has given us to one another, not as distant cousins, but as intimates, brothers and sisters. Love covers a multitude of sins. There are no outsiders. Jesus has called us all. We don’t let money changers into the Narthex. And in accord with Jesus’ command, we don’t let brothers say they are second class citizens. This is your home.
In +Jesus’ Name. Amen.