Posts Tagged "Luke 19:41-48"

You Did Not Know

August 16, 2020
By Rev. James Barton

Our text for today is the gospel lesson from Luke 19. It begins, “When He (Jesus) drew near (during Holy Week) and saw the city (the city of Jerusalem), He wept over it.” Why was Jesus weeping over Jerusalem, so long ago? He says in our text, “Would that you, even you, had known on this day the things that make for peace. But now, they are hidden from your eyes” (Luke 19:41-42).

Jesus is saying, in effect, “You, even you, the chosen people of God, the Jewish nation, of all people of the world, should know what really makes for real peace.” God called Abraham, long ago, and made from him the great nation of Israel. God promised through Joseph, already in Genesis 50:24, “God will visit you and bring you up out of this land (of Egypt) to the land He swore to Abraham.” God did visit His people through Moses and rescued them from slavery and brought them to the Promised Land. God gave this people the land of Israel and his Word, the whole Old Testament, through Moses and many other prophets. God gave this people the capitol city of Jerusalem, through David, and a magnificent temple, built and destroyed and rebuilt, as the place to worship the one true God and hear of Him and serve Him alone. God gave this very people so many others gifts and blessings; and above all, God gave them the promise that He would visit this people through the Messiah, the promised Savior, the One called the Prince of Peace, who would bring true peace from and with God.

“Here I am,” Jesus had been proclaiming and demonstrating to His people for several years. Yet, He says, to many of you, I am hidden from your eyes. You don’t recognize me, because you are all wrapped up in yourselves and your desires, and are looking for the wrong kind of peace, and the wrong kind of Messiah.

Many Jews were looking for a political messiah who would overthrow the Romans and their occupation of Israel and make Israel a great political nation again. Could Jesus be that Messiah? Jesus resisted all that. After He fed the 5,000 men, plus women and children, we read that, “perceiving that (the people) were about to come and take Him by force to make Him King, Jesus withdrew to a mountain by Himself” (John 6:15). Later on, He would tell the Roman governor, Pontius Pilate, in effect, I am no political threat to you. “My kingdom is not of this world” (John 18:36).

Other people simply wanted a more stable and prosperous and healthier life for themselves and their families and their nation. And Jesus did so much good for so many people in His ministry because He did care about their daily lives and struggles, but that was not His primary work. That would only bring some peace, for a while, for some people.

The religious leaders and other prominent people thought they could bring more peace to themselves and their nation by simply getting rid of Jesus. We read later on in our text that, “the chief priests and the scribes and the principle men of the people were seeking to destroy Jesus” (Luke 19:47). He was interfering with their plans and wishes, and they simply waited for an opportune time to kill Him, which Judas and Pilate and others would provide later on that week when Jesus was put to death on the cross.

Almost everyone was missing the real problem that Jesus had come to deal with - the problem of sin and evil and rebellion against God and His will, and all the problems that then come with fellow human beings. Jeremiah described it so dramatically in our Old Testament lesson for today. Inspired by God, he said, “Amend (change, make good) your ways…. Do not trust those deceptive words: This is the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord,” which is an excuse for continuing to do just what you want, instead of seeking to trust the Lord and His will and work. “Will you steal, murder, commit adultery swear falsely and go after other gods …?” (Did you notice that Jeremiah mentions 5 of the 10 Commandments in that little verse? All of which the people of Israel were breaking!) And then, (God says,) “You come and stand before me, in this house and say, ‘We are delivered’ - only to go on doing all these same abominations?” (Jeremiah 7:3,4,9,10). The problem of sin is so ingrained in human beings - the original sin we inherited and the actual sins that we commit - that we cannot overcome sin and evil on our own.

That’s why Jesus, God the Son, had to come into this world to forgive our sins and bring peace between us and God by His sacrificial death on the cross, paying the penalty for all sins and calling people to faith in Him alone as Lord and Savior. Jesus came in love for the whole world, including His own people of Israel. No wonder he wept for them, for so many were resisting Him, their only way to eternal peace with God and salvation.

But Jesus did not give up on them. He spent much of Holy Week teaching the full Word of God. He very strongly preached the Law - warning the people in our text of judgement and destruction coming for Jerusalem and for many of its people (which did happen in 70 AD) because so many continued to reject God’s visitation to them through His Son, Jesus. They were trusting themselves and their efforts instead of Jesus.

Jesus also went to the temple that week, and as our text says, He chased out people who were making it “a den of thieves” - the buyers and sellers and money changers - who were creating chaos there. And He quoted Scripture which said, “My house shall be a house of prayer for all people” (Luke 19:45-46. See also Isaiah 56:7 and Jeremiah 7:11). And Jesus kept teaching the Good News of hope in Him also that week. Our text says, “He was teaching daily in the temple … and all the people were hanging on His words” (Luke 19:47, 48. See also Luke 21:37-38). And some of those people surely came to faith in Him over time through that teaching.

And, finally, on Good Friday, Jesus faithfully followed His Father’s will and died on the cross in payment for the sins of the whole world, including those who opposed Him and helped put Him to death. Then they could still be eventually saved, through faith in Him. And on Easter Sunday, the Risen Lord Jesus appeared to His disciples and told them, “As the Father has sent me” (to do My saving work), “even so I am sending you” to tell others this Good News for all people (John 20:21). And later He told them, “You will be my witnesses,” beginning in Jerusalem, even where there was so much opposition, and then on “to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8). And that is what they sought to do. And that is why and how we have the Good News of Jesus today in our own community too.

As we think about our own day, don’t we often get off track too, just like so many people in Jerusalem in our text? There is so much talk today too about government and what it can do and about political change. If we could only get rid of those Republicans …. If we could only throw out those Democrats …. If we could only change our political system…. Government and leaders are important, but they are made up of sinful, imperfect people who cannot solve our deepest problems and our spiritual needs and our sin against God.

In our everyday life and family life, especially in this time of Covid-19, it is sometimes so hard just to survive and carry on. Our focus is mostly on ourselves and our needs. If we only had more of this and less of that; if only we had more money, and on and on. Someone reminded me recently that on the back of every dollar bill are the words, “In God we trust.” It is not the almighty dollar we trust. But, we all too often forget that or ignore that - and all the help the Lord can and wants to give us as we trust Him more.

I have to confess that I got off track myself in writing this sermon. It is so easy to do. I had finished the sermon and then realized that, at the end, I was putting too much emphasis upon us and what we ourselves now need to do as Christians. I did not say it so crassly, but it could have been understood as: Now, if we only shape up as Christians and witness more and share God’s Word more and do this and that good thing, then …. Notice that the focus was all on us and what we are to do. God was left out. God does want us to be His witnesses - or as we sing in the children’s song, to let our little gospel light shine. But, I had to go back and make it very clear, as I am doing now, that our own efforts can never make us acceptable to God, no matter how much we might witness and do other good things; nor can we ever save anyone for eternal life. Only God can bring people to faith and keep them in faith by His amazing grace.

That is what Paul is emphasizing in our epistle lesson and what called me to re-work my sermon. Paul says that many of his fellow Jews were pursuing a law that would lead them to righteousness, but they did not ever succeed in reaching, in keeping, that law (Romans 9:31). They were ignorant of the righteousness from God (through Christ) and were seeking to establish their own by their works (Romans 10:3). Never could they do enough though; and in the process, they were stumbling over Jesus and rejecting Him and what he did for them instead of trusting Him alone, by faith (Romans 9:32, 10:4).

To put it simply, we sang a hymn of prayer just before our sermon that said, “Lord Jesus, think on me” (#610). The Good News of God’s Word is that Jesus did think about us and knows us by name and gave His life for us on the cross. We also have had our own personal “time of visitation” when the Holy Spirit brought us to faith through His Word and the gift of baptism. Through Jesus’s saving work, all of our sins are already forgiven and we are already counted as righteous and we do have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ (Romans 5:1-2). What Good News to know for ourselves and to share as God leads us!

Let us rise for prayer. Lord Jesus, keep thinking about us in Your love and care, and help us to keep thinking about You as well, and trusting You for the joyful and the challenging days ahead for each of us. In your name we pray. Amen.

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