When Jesus drew near and saw the city, he wept over it, 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. For the days will come upon you, when your enemies will set up a barricade around you and surround you and hem you in on every side and tear you down to the ground, you and your children within you. And they will not leave one stone upon another in you, because you did not know the time of your visitation” (Luke 19:41–48).
Our Lord this morning comes to the city gates of Jerusalem and weeps bitterly. The Jews who have the Holy Scriptures and all the prophecies concerning Jesus are blind when it comes to their hour of salvation. The same people who persecuted their pastors and prophets, and killed God’s messengers have now rejected God’s dearly beloved Son.
The cried out “crucify him! We have no king but Ceasar.” They cried out “let his blood be upon us and our children.” Jesus mourned and wept for them. They who refused to see the things that make for peace – a tree lifted up against a dark sky – nails and a spear – his payment in blood. They rejected the Messiah. They cried out for Barabbas and killed the author of life.
Jesus had warned of the judgment to come. A half generation later the Romans marched on the city of Jerusalem. The Temple was burned to the ground. Well over a million Jews were brutally killed. Those who lived, perhaps a 100,000 were put in slavery back in Egypt.
These days we are too politically correct to say that God ever pours out his wrath or punishes anyone. But then again, God isn’t concerned about political correctness. Read the Bible. Pride, vanity, and violence got the best of man so God sent forth a furious flood to destroy rebel man, at this time billions of people. Only Noah and his family were saved. Sexual immorality ran amok in Sodom and Gemorrah so God set the entire city in flames in his fiery judgment. And now Jerusalem, just half a generation after their bloodthirsty cries to kill Jesus receive a worse judgment. The Roman armies hem them in on all sides. No one is spared from a violent death. Jesus this morning cleanses the temple, overturns tables, and thrashes a whip forshadowing this historic event.
This is a hard lesson for us because in one way or another we’re all raised on a hallmark version of Christianity. After all who wants to hear about fire and brimstone? But then if you can’t handle some fire and brimstone you probably can’t handle the Bible either – because the Scriptures are filled with it. Jesus preaching is filled with it. Warnings, threats, and admonitions from God to repent, to change, to be spared from disaster.
The truth remains for all to see. God destroys Jerusalem – the city that kills God’s prophets, messengers, and now His beloved Son. Jesus prophecy was sadly true.
But if God threatens wrath and punishment for all those who rebel against his commandments and reject his dear Son, then what about us? What about Lutheran congregations who refuse to hear the weekly preaching of God’s Word and drive their pastors out of town? What about husbands and wives abandoning each other. Fathers, rather than helping their daughters find a good and honorable husband, actually help their poor daughters move in with their dead-beat boyfriends! They not only approve but assist in handing their daughters into a life of fornication! What about grandparents who flood their grandchildren with every form of entertainment and somehow miss teaching them the Lord’s Prayer. What shame! What about the daily murder of children in the womb? Four thousand little ones a day. Lord, help us!
What will God to with us when he sees what we’ve done with marriage. Openly celebrating fornication and sodomy. Redefining marriage altogether.
Our TV’s are flooded with sitcoms that would scandalize our grandmothers. And we laugh at all the coarse jokes. The people of Sodom and Gemorrah would blush at the things we celebrate. The citizens of Noah’s day would be horrified of us.
When God looks upon our nation, when he looks upon our community, our church, our home what does he think? Much worse when he sees our sinful hearts, our wicked thoughts, debased minds and corruption what does he think? Does he like what he sees? Is he proud of what we’ve become? Or does he weep for us, like he weeps for Jerusalem?
In our Gospel this morning 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.”
But dear Christian, by God’s grace you know the things that make for peace: a baby wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. A child who grows up with one mission. To bear the wickedness of this whole world, to bear your sins in his flesh and blood, to free you from everlasting death and eternal judgment. Behold the cross lifted up. See the nails piercing his hands and feet. See the things that make for peace and justice. Behold the cost it took to save you.
Sure Jesus wept over Jerusalem. But in the Garden of Gethsemane he wept for your salvation. His tears became drops of blood. He is overcome with love for his fallen creation. And in Jesus, we see God’s loving heart.
The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. He wishes not to perish but all to be brought to repentance and eternal life.
When Jesus is raised from the grave on Easter morning, he doesn’t speak a single word of judgment. He speaks nothing but peace and forgives his shifty disciples. He shows them his resurrected body. He says peace be with you! Look what I have done for you! Your sins are forgiven. You are already raised from the dead. God is not coming after you, you who have faith in his son. God is not coming after you, you who hear his word week in and week out in the Divine Service and receive his body and blood. You belong to Christ.
Jesus has quenched God’s wrath and anger on the cross for all those who repent and are baptized into his holy name. The wrath of God and his fiery judgment is only reserved for the devil and his angels and those who stubbornly spurn his love and reject his Son.
So have no fear. The judgment for you has already come. You have already passed from death to life. Nothing came harm you. No sickness can hurt you. No army can stop you. You belong to the true Jerusalem, the city of God set in the heavens. Jesus lives and so do you. In the name of Jesus. Amen.