Sermon for Trinity 10, 2021

Text: Luke 19:41-48

In the name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

The Lord Jesus enters into Jerusalem triumphally, to load shouts of “Hosanna!” It’s a joyous occasion, indeed as he comes to bring redemption not just for the people of Jerusalem, but for all Israel and, in fact, all people for all time. The people are right to wave palm branches before him and lay them on the ground before him as he rides into town. They are right to The people are right to sing “Hosanna!” because Jesus will save them. He is the answer to that cry.

In the midst of this joyous entry, though, Jesus weeps. He weeps over Jerusalem. He weeps over them because he knows what’s going to happen to them. He knows that in 40 years or so the city will be completely destroyed. But it’s not really the destruction of Jerusalem that causes Jesus to weep. It’s the fact that the Jews have so fully put their trust in the fact that they are children of Abraham and have the temple in Jerusalem that houses the Ark of the Covenant and everything that goes along with that and they’re missing the entire point of every single one of those things. They feel somewhat comfortable with their position at the moment even though they find themselves under Roman rule, but they still long for more. They long for complete independence like they enjoyed during the days of King David and King Solomon. They see Jesus coming into town and assume that he’s the new king that will put them over the top and take them to just that position. Finally, the Son of David will reign in Jerusalem again.

They weren’t completely wrong. Jerusalem, the temple, and the ark do all point to the coming Messiah. All of them point to the Messiah who has come. All of them point to Jesus. Jesus comes to bring peace. But it’s not the peace that they’re looking for. They’re looking for peace on earth. They’re looking for prosperity for their nation. They believe that Jesus is the one who comes to bring peace for them, but they’re looking for the wrong kind of peace. It’s not the first time this has happened. As things started go badly for Israel in the Old Testament, they sought peace by means of political alliances. In spite of the prophets’ warnings, they made treaties with foreign nations that backfired in the end. King Hezekiah, King of Judah, made the rather foolish mistake of showing off his treasure to the Babylonians, whom he was friendly with at the time. That didn’t end well, to say the least. Now, in Jesus’ day, the people are at it again. Making agreements to live with the Romans. They think peace is found through political maneuverings. That’s why Jesus weeps.

Jesus also weeps because he hasn’t exactly kept the reason for his coming a secret. Jesus spoke of his coming death and resurrection. Jesus spoke of the salvation that would come to those who ate of his flesh and drank of his blood. The prophets, for that matter, didn’t keep it a secret either. Just look at the suffering servant in Isaiah’s prophecies. That points to Jesus. These things were not kept secret. Not at all. But the Jews don’t see it. They are lost. The evidence is all right before their eyes, but they don’t believe the evidence. So Jesus weeps over Jerusalem.

Judgment for Jerusalem is coming. Jesus speaks of it. Because the Jews didn’t know the time of their visitation – that is, they didn’t know that Jesus came to bring them peace between them and God – not one stone will be left upon another. The building that they’ve trusted as evidence of God’s favor toward them that has housed their empty, meaningless sacrifices that they keep presenting, will be torn down along with the rest of their city. They’ve taken the gift that God gave them and turned it into an idol, so God will now tear down their idol and leave them with nothing. Furthermore, Jesus’ weeping turns into anger as he goes into the temple and drives out the money changers and those who bought and sold. They were treating their worship life at the temple as some sort of business transaction rather than as true worship of one, true God who gives them all things.

What kind of peace are you looking for? Are you seeking the peace that comes through social justice? This has been a very popular idea over the past year and a half. If only we can somehow repay all those whose ancestors were oppressed in the past, then we can finally have peace. If only we can rid ourselves of all of the statues and other symbols that represent hate, then we can have peace.

Or maybe it’s the peace that comes through political alliances made with other nations. If we can get this or that peace treaty signed, then everything will be right with the world. If we can get all nations to stop building powerful weapons of war, then we’ll create this Utopian world were everyone always gets along and nobody ever argues about anything ever again.

We, of course, know that both of these strategies are hopeless. Should we work toward living peacefully toward our neighbors regardless of their cultural background or anything else that might make them different from us? Absolutely. God’s Law calls us to love our neighbor as ourselves. This is the summary of the second table of the Law, after all. The problem is that, in the end, no matter how hard you try, you will never eliminate every evil person in the world. The reason for this is that all people are evil.

The fundamental problem that exists with all of man’s attempts to make peace in this world is that man assumes that all men are, at their core, good. This is simply not true. Yes, man was created in the image of God, but that image was lost in the fall. Is that image being restored in us even now? Yes. In Holy Baptism we were given the gift of the Holy Spirit that sanctifies us. The Holy Spirit continues to come to us in Word and Sacrament throughout our lives, constantly making us holy again and again. But the stain of sin remains. We are saints according to our baptism and according to God’s continued action in our lives through his Holy Spirit, but we are all also sinners in need of God’s forgiveness.

Jesus comes to bring what you need. He comes to bring true peace. Do not miss the reason for Jesus’ visitation! Jesus does not visit that you might have social or political peace. He comes for a much better reason than that. He comes to bring true peace. He visits even today to give you the very peace that he won the cross: the peace between you and God. This is true peace. This is the peace of sins forgiven. This forgiveness comes to you in the ordinary forms of baptism, holy absolution, and the Lord’s Supper. In these gifts you can be certain that Jesus visits you because he himself instituted them for this purpose. In Jesus, you have true peace.

In the name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

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