LUKE 19:41-44

Luther Memorial Chapel and University Student Center
The Rev. Jason D. Lane

 

GRACE, MERCY, AND PEACE FROM GOD OUR HEAVENLY FATHER AND FROM OUR LORD AND SAVIOR, JESUS CHRIST.

 

The text is from the Gospel Lesson, Luke 19:41-44, but I want to include the few verses that precede it, starting at verse 37. AS HE WAS DRAWING NEAR—ALREADY ON THE PATH DOWN FROM THE MOUNT OF OLIVES—THE WHOLE MULTITUDE OF HIS DISCIPLES BEGAN TO REJOICE AND PRAISE GOD WITH A LOUD VOICE FOR ALL THE MIGHTY WORKS THAT THEY HAD SEEN, [38] SAYING, “BLESSED IS THE KING WHO COMES IN THE NAME OF THE LORD! PEACE IN HEAVEN AND GLORY IN THE HIGHEST!” AND SOME OF THE PHARISEES IN THE CROWD SAID TO HIM, “RABBI, REBUKE YOUR DISCIPLES.” BUT HE SAID, “I TELL YOU, IF THEY WERE SILENT, THE STONES WOULD START SHOUTING.” And then just this from our text: [41] WHEN JESUS CAME NEAR AND SAW THE CITY, HE BURST INTO SOBS OVER IT, 42] AND SAID, “IF YOU—YOU— HAD ONLY KNOWN TODAY THE TERMS OF PEACE!  BUT NOW THEY’RE HIDDEN FROM YOUR EYES. … 44] YOU DIDN’T RECOGNIZE THE TIME WHEN GOD WAS COMING TO YOU.”


From the moment sin entered the world THE TERMS OF PEACE between a sinner and God always meant bloodshed, the shedding of innocent blood in place of sinners doomed for eternal damnation. In Eden, it was a promise of innocence and then God covering the indecency of Adam and Eve with the skins of freshly slaughtered beasts. It was always the innocent for the guilty. How many sin offerings? How many whole burnt offerings? How much blood had to be spilt to cover the iniquity of Israel? As far as Divine Service in Israel was concerned: it was almost all about innocent blood covering the transgressions of the people—over and over and over again. And then it was: God’s SHALOM! PEACE BE WITH YOU! God made that peace possible, not Israel or any human being.

The 10th Sunday after Trinity, 9 August 2015

LUKE 19:41-44

Luther Memorial Chapel and University Student Center
The Rev. Jason D. Lane

GRACE, MERCY, AND PEACE FROM GOD OUR HEAVENLY FATHER AND FROM OUR LORD AND SAVIOR, JESUS CHRIST.

The text is from the Gospel Lesson, Luke 19:41-44, but I want to include the few verses that precede it, starting at verse 37. AS HE WAS DRAWING NEAR—ALREADY ON THE PATH DOWN FROM THE MOUNT OF OLIVES—THE WHOLE MULTITUDE OF HIS DISCIPLES BEGAN TO REJOICE AND PRAISE GOD WITH A LOUD VOICE FOR ALL THE MIGHTY WORKS THAT THEY HAD SEEN, [38] SAYING, “BLESSED IS THE KING WHO COMES IN THE NAME OF THE LORD! PEACE IN HEAVEN AND GLORY IN THE HIGHEST!” AND SOME OF THE PHARISEES IN THE CROWD SAID TO HIM, “RABBI, REBUKE YOUR DISCIPLES.” BUT HE SAID, “I TELL YOU, IF THEY WERE SILENT, THE STONES WOULD START SHOUTING.” And then just this from our text: [41] WHEN JESUS CAME NEAR AND SAW THE CITY, HE BURST INTO SOBS OVER IT, 42] AND SAID, “IF YOU—YOU— HAD ONLY KNOWN TODAY THE TERMS OF PEACE!  BUT NOW THEY’RE HIDDEN FROM YOUR EYES. … 44] YOU DIDN’T RECOGNIZE THE TIME WHEN GOD WAS COMING TO YOU.”


From the moment sin entered the world THE TERMS OF PEACE between a sinner and God always meant bloodshed, the shedding of innocent blood in place of sinners doomed for eternal damnation. In Eden, it was a promise of innocence and then God covering the indecency of Adam and Eve with the skins of freshly slaughtered beasts. It was always the innocent for the guilty. How many sin offerings? How many whole burnt offerings? How much blood had to be spilt to cover the iniquity of Israel? As far as Divine Service in Israel was concerned: it was almost all about innocent blood covering the transgressions of the people—over and over and over again. And then it was: God’s SHALOM! PEACE BE WITH YOU! God made that peace possible, not Israel or any human being.


The TERMS OF PEACE are hardly just. Where’s the justice in the innocent suffering, while the guilty go free? What kind of TERMS are those? Peace as we know it comes with the edge of sword, when the righteous avenge the wicked for their transgressions and spare the innocent. But what if there are no innocent left? What if ALL HAVE SINNED? What if ALL ARE GUILTY? What are the TERMS OF PEACE then?


This Gospel text takes place right in the midst of Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem. Hence, verse 41, WHEN JESUS CAME NEAR AND SAW THE CITY… It’s Palm Sunday, and the King is entering a war-ridden city with His TERMS OF PEACE. But as you know, Jerusalem and so many like those in Jerusalem that day, didn’t know the terms. Jesus says, “IF YOU’D ONLY KNOWN THE TERMS OF PEACE.” Which is amazing, since the Scriptures had laid out THE TERMS OF PEACE long ago. It was paper and ink, as the Holy Spirit spoke by the prophets, it was embodied in the worship of Israel, and then, that day, it was THE WORD MADE FLESH riding into the city in triumphal procession. Jesus says, “BUT NOW IT IS HIDDEN FROM YOU.”


How did they become so blind that they couldn’t see and didn’t know THE TERMS OF PEACE? How did they not recognize THE KING WHO COMES IN THE NAME OF THE LORD? How did they not know they were at war with Him? It happens to everyone who gets delusional, first about themselves and then about God. It happens to every one of us humans who says, “I’m a good person, even spiritual—in my own way,” or something to that effect, as if God could have no quarrel with us, and, really, if anything, we might have a quarrel or two with Him, while we hide from the truth behind our own self-righteousness. I mean, how can you know His PEACE TERMS when you won’t even face the fact that you’re sinning, and that sin is war with God?  On that Palm Sunday, God knew that Jerusalem was calmly and obliviously at war with Him. And Jerusalem was going to lose. Which is why, in the middle of that triumphal procession, with the palms and the robes and the crowds of His disciples shouting, He wept. V. 41] WHEN JESUS CAME NEAR AND SAW THE CITY, HE BURST INTO TEARS OVER IT. Because He already saw it in rubble, like Berlin in 1945, or like all the ruined souls in Hell who’ve died at war with God.


He said, V. 42] IF YOU—IF YOU’D ONLY KNOWN… He says it, because He’d loved that city for a thousand years. He called it, THE HOLY CITY!  He called it, THE BELOVED CITY, while for a thousand years – almost without exception – that city ignored His commands, called Him, “God”, while they actually worshipped just about anything else, even money—an idolatry not too far from our souls. He said, WHY DO YOU CALL ME “LORD” AND NOT DO WHAT I SAY? They lied to each other; they wouldn’t care for each other. They used each other in every way that people can be used. And went on living as if God had no quarrel with them. It was HIDDEN FROM their EYES by their own amazing self-righteousness.


They didn’t know God as their King. They had come to think of Him more as an employer who was supposed to pay you for services rendered. And they thought of themselves as valuable employees, who had God covered, because they kept some of the rules that they agreed with and just reserved the right to live their private lives their own way. Why should that bother Him?  And when He sent them prophets to wake them up—Jesus said, O JERUSALEM!  YOU KILL THE PROPHETS AND STONE THE ONES I send you.”  They forgot the Fire on Mount Sinai; they even forgot that He’d already leveled their city once and rebuilt it. Finally, when GOD CAME to them in Person with TERMS OF PEACE, they had no idea what that might have to do with them.


Does it have anything to do with us? Perhaps we should compare: Jerusalem then and us now. I don’t think any of us has ever killed a PROPHET? Then again, we don’t have to; we can just ignore what they wrote. We’ve never stoned THE ONES He sent us. We just stayed out of church. Quite a few of us have never killed anybody, but we’ve hated people—because if we didn’t hate them, why didn’t we help them? Quite a few of us have never committed adultery anywhere but in our private imaginations, but then again, how is that not cheating on the ones God gave us to love? We have lied to people. We’ve blown people off, ignored people, got fed up with the inconvenience of helping people. And God noticed. God minded. Yes. And furiously.

 

Well, think about it:  What if it was your kid—or your best friend—that somebody cheated—or cheated on?  Would you notice?  What if it was someone who really mattered to you and somebody hated them, wouldn’t help them, blew them off, made an offhand joke about them? Would you mind?  Of course you would. But whatever we’ve done to anybody we’ve done to somebody who mattered tremendously to THE CONSUMING FIRE who says, I WILL REPAY! 


It was too late for Jerusalem. People were saved from it, but the city as a whole was on death row, because GOD was right there, and He told them, V. 44] YOU DIDN’T RECOGNIZE THE TIME WHEN GOD WAS COMING TO YOU. 

 

But now IS THE TIME THAT GOD IS COMING TO US. Today is the DAY OF VISITATION. Is it too late? It’s way too late to tell ourselves what good people we are. Now is the time to face His PEACE TERMS: and that’s first, unconditional surrender. Jesus says, YOU CALL ME, “LORD,” AND YOU’RE RIGHT TO:  THAT’S WHAT I AM. The CROWD on Palm Sunday shouted, BLESSED IS THE KING!  THE KING!  Scripture says, OH, COME, LET US WORSHIP AND BOW DOWN; LET US KNEEL BEFORE THE LORD OUR MAKER back where we came from. PEACE with God doesn’t mean being left alone. One way or another, there is no being left alone.


We’ve got to give ourselves up. There’s no other option, we’ve got to give ourselves up to Him. The DISCIPLES made a good start when they took off their coats, their shirts, and threw them on the road for Him to ride on. Because it’s got to be our whole lives at His feet.


These TERMS are non-negotiable. It’s perfectly useless to tell God, “All right; I surrender but on condition that I still get to ignore some of the things You say.”  Then you’re still at war. That’s as if ISIS offered to surrender on condition that they still gets to kill people sometimes. If I still don’t intend to do what He commands, if you still intend to do something He forbids—if we want to sin in peace, there is no peace with God. He said, WHOEVER ISN’T WITH ME IS AGAINST ME. It’s all or nothing.


But how is that PEACE? To give myself up to the same God I’ve sinned against?  Think about it, if ISIS does finally surrender, is America going to just forget about the lives they took, just because they surrendered so well? Is God going to forget my sins because I my repentance was really heartfelt this time? How can there be peace with a CONSUMING FIRE, who knows the real me, who knows how often I’ve failed Him and how I could, at any moment, turn on Him?


But never mind failing Him, how many times a day have we sinned against each other?  Failed somebody, hurt somebody, didn’t love somebody? How can you give yourself up with all that on your back? How can you surrender with all that to pay for? And never mind the past; what about the future? His DISCIPLES, you remember, did fine on Palm Sunday. How’d they do on Good Friday?  And us, if we know ourselves at all, how can there ever be PEACE? 

 

God says, “These are the TERMS and there are no other; these are the TERMS and they’re non-negotiable:  I will pay for what you’ve done. I will make up for everything and keep you covered until you’re home with Me, so that you can surrender your whole life to Me, with all the failures and the sins in their thousands—to Me, for Me to carry, not you.”  Which isn’t right. Which isn’t fair in the slightest. But it’s the TERMS OF PEACE He laid out at the beginning, because He saw what we would become without Him.


And when the Lord of the Universe entered that city, He didn’t come as a CONSUMING FIRE. No, He came to them as gently as He’s coming to us now:  just enough yelling to wake us up; just enough force to break down doors. GOD came riding on a donkey, riding to His execution, for our sake. God came human, with a human face to get punched, with hands to get nailed and a rib cage to get stabbed with a spear.


Whatever sins they’ve been, He said, YOU WERE SOLD FOR NOTHING AND NOT WITH MONEY WILL YOU BE BOUGHT BACK. Whatever sin’s cost us, He said, I’LL RESTORE TO YOU DOUBLE!  I’LL RESTORE it. As if it weren’t your fault at all, but Mine.” 


It sounds impossible, but it happened. However many hours we’ve spent calmly at war with Him, it’s GOD who pays reparations: forgiveness for everything; He paid enough. Sins forgiven and forgiven and forgiven and forgiven again: Holy Absolution! What Jerusalem needed and wouldn’t take. But it’s here right now, with torrential mercy and unlimited compassion, as if we’d always been with Him, as if there’d been no sin in the Garden, as if He’d never had any quarrel with us at all: He says, “I’ll make reparations! With His protection, under His strong rule, and Him rebuilding the ruins inside here, and Heaven and life everlasting—PEACE where God Himself says, “You are My beloved” and His voice rings deep into your soul: “You are Mine!” 


Because Jesus entered that city to die: crying for the ones who won’t surrender, but still riding on all the same. And knowing perfectly how His DISCIPLES would fail Him, but still riding on to the cross, triumphant all the same. He knew He had them covered. The Pharisees said, “Jesus!  DO YOU HEAR who Your DISCIPLES are claiming that You are?”  And He said, “YES.”  They said, “RABBI!  Make them stop!”  He said, “If I stop them, the stones’ll start up!” As if to say, “I know they don’t understand most of what they’re shouting, not yet. But this really is something for them to shout about.”  And we don’t understand half the things we sing. Not yet. But this really is something for us to sing about loudly: Today, God is visiting us. Now is THE TIME OF GOD COMING TO us, and THE TERMS OF PEACE are unconditional surrender to receive a righteousness that we did never even knew to look for, to be embraced by a love we never deserved, and to bath in a forgiveness and innocence that humanity hasn’t seen since the days of Adam. Today is that day. Let us rejoice and be glad in it. Amen.

Luther Memorial Chapel & University Student Center | 3833 N Maryland Ave | Shorewood, WI  53211
(414) 332-5732 |lmcusc@lmcusc.org

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