Sunday, August 25, 2019

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.
On the Mount of Olives, overlooking the Temple Mount, stands a small, teardrop shaped church called Dominus Flevit, a Latin name meaning “The Lord Wept.” From that location, near ancient tombs and the Garden of Gethsemane, our Lord Jesus wept as He gazed upon Jerusalem and the temple because His people did not know, they did not recognize, the time of their visitation.
It was Palm Sunday. Jesus rode on a colt, a young unbroken donkey. As He descended from the Mount of Olives the crowds received Him as their Messianic King, laying down their cloaks before Him and waving palm branches in the air shouting, “Blessed is the King who comes in the Name of the Lord!” But, they praised Him for all the wrong reasons. They imagined the restoration of the worldly glory of Israel under King David, but they remained blind to the kind of King the Lord Jesus, the Messiah, was to be. King Jesus did not come to set His people free from bondage and slavery to worldly powers nor to restore glory to earthly Israel, but He came to set His people free from bondage and slavery to sin, death, and Satan.
“And when He drew near and saw the city, He wept over it” – Dominus Flevit, “The Lord Wept.” Jesus wept over Jerusalem because of their spiritual blindness, because of their spiritual deafness, because their hearts were hard and their necks were stiff. They had not hearkened to the word of the Prophets who called them to repentance, but they became secure and proud and self-righteous, believing that they had achieved peace with God by their obedience and works, or because of their bloodline. This is what their pastors and teachers, the scribes and Pharisees taught them. And, because of their false peace, they did not know Jesus. They did not recognize their Messiah and King whom the Prophets had foretold for centuries. And, they did not know the time of their visitation.
Their visitation was very much akin to the accounting we heard about last Sunday. King Jesus was paying His people, His Church, a visit to take an account of their management of His gifts. God made a covenant with this people. He promised them blessing and forgiveness if they would only trust Him and keep His Word holy and sacred. But, not only had they abandoned His Word and commandments, but they taught others to do the same. This was a gracious visitation, for there would still be time to repent and receive true and lasting peace with God. Yet, Jesus foresaw their persistent rebellion, idolatry, and apostasy, and He foresaw their coming destruction at the hands of the Romans. Therefore, Jesus wept. Dominus Flevit.
Jesus did not come to condemn His people, but to call them to repentance that they would be saved. He compares Himself to a hen seeking to gather her chicks under the protection of her wings, but they were unwilling. That very image is depicted in a mosaic upon the altar in the Church of Dominus Flevit. Above the altar is a window overlooking the Temple Mount, but the cross in the glass resides over, not the place where the temple stood, but over the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, the place where Jesus was crucified and buried, the place where true Peace with God would be secured in Jesus’ shed blood and death upon the cross. This brings to mind another avian image, that of the Pelican in Her Piety. In times of drought, famine, or great distress, the mother pelican is known to pluck feathers from her breast and tear her own flesh that she might feed her brood with her own blood – a fitting and powerful image of our Lord Jesus’ selfless sacrifice for all.
The crowd that received Him that day praised Him for all the wrong reasons. They were seeking glory and power instead of forgiveness and peace with God. And, in the temple courts Jesus found the money changers and vendors of sacrificial animals extorting their own people, making filthy lucre off of people coming to worship their Lord. Therefore He drove out those who had made His Father’s house of prayer a wicked den of robbers. Still, He taught daily in the temple and many hung upon His every word so that the chief priests, the scribes, and the principal men of the people were seeking to destroy Him. This was a gracious visitation. There was still time. However, time was running short.
This was nothing new. Jeremiah prophesied to the Lord’s people six centuries earlier saying, “Why has this people turned away in perpetual backsliding? They hold fast to deceit; they refuse to return.” It was Jeremiah who also denounced the teachers in his day for telling the people “Peace, peace; it will be well with you,” while they were rebelliously disobeying the LORD’s Word and commandments, following the visions of their own minds and the deceits of their hearts. Even then they did not know the things that make for peace, for true peace with God. Jesus, and Jesus alone, was and is peace with God, and He was in His temple to cleanse it, a precursor to the once-for-all cleansing from sin which He would accomplish in the temple of His own body on the cross.
Dominus Flevit, “the Lord wept.” Our Lord wept over Jerusalem for the destruction that would soon come upon her. For she did not recognize the time of God’s gracious visitation in Christ, who had come to bring her peace. Destruction was not what the Lord desired. Destruction was not the purpose for which He was sent. But, they rejected and killed the Prophets who came before Him, and they would reject and kill Jesus too. Jesus did not weep for Himself. Willingly He went to the cross out of love for His Father who loves you so much that He gave His only Son unto death that you might live. No, Jesus did not weep for Himself, but He wept for the children of Israel, and He wept for you and me, His children even now. Jesus wept because we are so easily deceived by the desires of our flesh, by our fallen reason, and by the devil. We so easily believe that we are righteous and justified by what we do or how we feel. We are lulled into believing we are at peace with God because we go to church or behave better than others. But, if our peace is not in Christ, and in Christ alone, then we have a false peace, which is no peace at all. The Lord has visited His people in the Messiah Jesus, in humility, mercy, and compassion. Repent; be turned, and find true Peace with God in Jesus.
For, the Lord is visiting you, His people, now in His faith-creating, forgiveness-giving, and life-bestowing Word, Baptism, Absolution, and Supper. And the Lord will visit His people once again in power and great glory, and then every eye will see Him, and every tongue will confess Jesus Christ as Lord, to the glory of God the Father. He has come. He comes. And, He is coming. Therefore, cleanse the temple of your soul from all self-righteousness, from trust in money and worldly possessions, from whatever idols you have created for yourself and submitted yourself to. For, today you stand in His forgiveness, at peace with God through Jesus Christ. He is unchanging, faithful, and true; He will never leave you or forsake you or break His covenant promise with you. Only you can reject Him, for He will not, and He cannot reject you.
And, His gracious visitation amongst you now is for the purpose that your faith would be renewed and strengthened and that you would be preserved in His parousia, His presence and His gracious visitation this day, and every day, until He reveals Himself in glory for all to see and know. For, the peace that He brings to you, the peace that He is for you, is not a light peace, peace as the world gives, but it is true peace, peace with God who, in and through Jesus, is not your enemy and judge, but your loving Father who graciously gives you all things needful for your body, life, and soul. You are members of His body of which He is the head. You are blocks in the walls of His holy temple of which He is the cornerstone and foundation. Your Lord Jesus was torn down in your death so that not one stone was left standing upon another, and He was raised again on the third day to life that never ends. He is present for you now in this house of prayer. His gates are open and His feast is prepared. Come and eat at His banquet and know His peace.
In the + Name of Jesus. Amen.

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