Sunday, August 28, 2011

Homily for The Tenth Sunday after Trinity (Trinity 10)


Luke 19:41-48; 1 Corinthians 12:1-11; Jeremiah 8:4-12

In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit.

It is a profound thing to consider that your Jesus, God in human flesh, the incarnate Word of creation…, it is a profound thing to consider that your Jesus wept. What sort of sorrows, what sort of pain, what sort of compassion could move our God to tears? What sort of sorrows, what sort of pain, and what sort of compassion move you to weep tears? These too your Jesus experienced and felt. And so, your Jesus wept.

Yet, the weepings of your God and Lord should cause you to pause and consider just what it means that God is moved to weep bitter and heavy tears. For, when you weep, do you not weep for your pain, for your hurt, for your loss as much as you weep for the pains, the hurts, and the losses of another? Is not your weeping often conjured up as a swelling of emotional pathos motivated by pitiable images of starving children and flood-ruined homes on the television or in a magazine? Is it not often but a general sorrow and grief at the loss of others in the knowledge that one day, sooner or later, you too will wither and die and be washed from the face of the earth as in a terrible flood?

I say this to you, not to belittle your pain and sorrow, your grief, your compassion, and tears, but to cause you to see that, though your sorrows, grief, compassion, and tears are very real, they are also, because of sin, mingled with self-concern, even selfishness, and, at times, even a dark pleasure at the sufferings of others. I say this to you so that in contrast you may see the purity, the sinlessness, the holiness, and the selflessness of the weepings, the sorrows, the grief, and the compassion of your Jesus.

For, when your Jesus weeps at the death of his friend Lazarus, there is no hint of weeping for His own loss or for His own imminent crucifixion and death, but there is only the purest, holiest grief and sorrow at the reality of death itself. Jesus weeps at Lazarus’ death because death is the wage and the fruit of man’s sinful rebellion against God and His Holy will. Jesus weeps because death is not natural, like people are want to believe, but death is the most unnatural of things in the world. For, your God is the God of life, not of death. Death is the complete and utter opposite of your God. And your Jesus’ weeps at Lazarus’ death because this demonic, evil fruit of your sin has claimed another victim, because another precious soul is robbed of God-given life. The Greek word for the sort of compassion your Jesus has for mankind and for you is the torturous word splagchnizomai. Literally, splagchnizomai means a churning of the bowels, or, a gut-wrenching grief and sorrow. Indeed, the word even sounds like what it means. But, this is what it means for your Jesus to have compassion. And, this is what it means for your Jesus, your God, to weep.

Your Jesus, your God, felt this same splagchnizomai, this same gut-wrenching compassion, as He drew near to the City of Peace, Jerusalem. Ironically, the City of Peace, Jerusalem, the place where Melchizedek, the King of Salem, which means peace, whose name means King of Righteousness, visited Abraham and blessed him; the City of Peace, Jerusalem, where David and Solomon prayed and where Jeremiah prophesied; ironically, the City of Peace, Jerusalem, had, since its foundation, been anything but a city of peace. This is because men look for peace in the wrong places, in the wrong things, and in the wrong people. Thus, Jesus weeps saying, “Would that you, even you, had known on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes.” The things that make for peace with God are the repentance of sins and His merciful and gracious forgiveness. The things that make for peace are located in your Jesus who was rejected by the Jewish leaders in Jerusalem and crucified unto death. The religious leadership of the Jews taught the people to find peace in their alms and in their prayers and in their sacrifices, that is, in their works with the result that the people remained in their sins and could never know True Peace with God through the atoning sacrifice of the Lamb of God Jesus Christ. Like Jeremiah prophesied, “They have healed the wound of my people lightly, saying, ‘Peace, peace,’ when there is no peace.” Not only did the religious leadership of the Jews fail to shepherd the people under their care to the source of True Peace, but they directed them away from Jesus to their works which merited them only death.

Thus, they did not, indeed, they could not know the time of their visitation. The Word of God became flesh and tabernacled amongst His people in a gracious visitation of mercy and forgiveness, but He was rejected by the Jewish religious leadership and by many individuals as well who were blind to the things that make for peace. Because of their rejection of Him, Jesus can see the future fruits of their sinful rebellion when the Romans would lay siege to Jerusalem and destroy every building, every person, and every child but forty years later.

Jesus came to Jerusalem, Jesus came in the form of a man, to show mercy and forgiveness to sinners and to reveal the judgment of the self-righteous. He came as Peace incarnate – real peace, peace with God – to all who would receive Him, but to those who rejected Him, He came as the sign of their self-chosen condemnation.

When He entered the temple, His Father’s House, He overturned the tables of the money changers and of those who trafficked in the things that cannot bring peace and He drove them out of the temple saying to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be a house of prayer,’ but you have made it a den of robbers.” Those who teach and believe in justification by works rob God and they rob Jesus of glory and of what rightly belongs to God alone. We do not buy and sell forgiveness. And, if you believe that you merit God’s favor because of your works or if you believe that you have chosen or decided to follow Him, then you deceive yourself and worse, you rob your Jesus of the merit of His atoning death and the glory due His Name.

God has always visited each and every generation, seeking sinners and showering them with mercy, grace, and forgiveness but leaving the self-righteous in their chosen condemnation. And when time was full God sent His Son to redeem those under the Law that they might receive adoption as sons. Jesus is God’s gift of Peace. Do you understand the things that make for your peace? In Jesus, God has visited His people and redeemed them; He has established peace between God and man. Do you believe this? Or, do you look to yourself or to your works, to your prayers and your piety to be assured to your peace with your God? Is your heart a house of prayer or is it a den of thieves robbing your Jesus, your God of the glory due His Name?

God has visited His people in grace and mercy and forgiveness in your Jesus, but He will visit again in judgment at a time no man will know. But, if you know the things that make for peace with God, if you repent of your sins and believe in Jesus’ atoning death and resurrection, then you are judged already – Not guilty! Acquitted! Free to live! Likewise, those who insist that their peace with God is connected to their works and their merit, they stand condemned already. They will be exposed for what they are on the Last Day.

God has visited His people in grace and mercy and forgiveness in your Jesus. And, your Jesus is present with His gracious visitation now to forgive your sins, to strengthen your faith, and to give you His eternal life. For, the Church is the New Jerusalem, the new Israel, the City of Peace, peace with God. May the Church ever be a house of prayer and not a den of thieves. And may the Church always glorify God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit now and forevermore.

In the + Name of Jesus. Amen.

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