Lent II – February 24, 2013
Holy Cross Lutheran Church
Rev. Todd A. Peperkorn
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, Amen. Our text for today is the Gospel just read from St. Luke chapter thirteen, as well as the Old Testament reading from Jeremiah (26:8-15).
Jeremiah is in trouble. He has proclaimed God’s Word to the people of Israel. They are going into Exile. This was around 610 B.C. It is their unbelief and hardness of heart that will cause the disaster that will befall them. It is their own fault. No one else is to blame. Jeremiah is simply announcing the way things are. But they are ready to kill the messenger, because they don’t like the message.
Often this is your reaction when it comes to confronting sin. It is mine as well. You don’t like to be wrong. You don’t want someone to show you your weaknesses, far less your sin. Can you imagine the audacity? Actually telling another person that they’re wrong? We don’t do this today. We just don’t. Right and wrong today is, well, it’s a private opinion. Our culture today would have you believe that if there is a right and a wrong, you should keep it to yourself.
But God loves you too much for that. God loves you so much that He is willing to risk your rejection in order to save you.
So He sends prophets, preachers who speak the truth in love both in season and out of season. And sometimes that warning, that cry to repent and turn away from your self-centered and empty life, well, sometimes the rejection gets ugly.
This is what was going on with Jeremiah. And for speaking the truth to these people, He was rejected.
The same happened to most all of the prophets. Even John the Baptist, the last and greatest of the prophets. He had the nerve to tell Herod, that old fox as Jesus calls him, He had the nerve to tell him that adultery and murder is a sin. Herod didn’t like this message, not one bit. He threw John in prison, and eventually murdered him. It’s a dangerous thing, bringing bad news. The only thing worse is not bringing it.
By the time we get to our Lord in our text, He is heading the same was of Jeremiah, and John, and all of the rejected prophets who went before Him. Our text says that some religious leaders, Pharisees, they come to Jesus and urge Him to go away, because Herod wants Jesus dead.
At first glance it sounds like they are doing Jesus a favor. After all, they do go and warn Jesus and urge Him to leave. But they aren’t saying this to Him as a favor. Basically they are trying to pressure Him and manipulate Him into leaving His divine mission of salvation for the world. Like Satan before them, they try to get Jesus to look after Himself and let the world go to hell all on its own.
But that’s not God’s way. It’s our way. Our way is conflict avoidance. Our way is to ignore the signs of our brokenness. Our way is to avoiding talking about things like sin and death. Why? Well, they are so negative. If we don’t talk about them, maybe they will go away. Maybe things will just work out all on their own. And so we run from God, and hide just like Adam and Eve in the Garden.
But God is not like us. Not in this way, at least. God sees your need. He knows that the path you are on by nature only leads to death, sorrow, and to everlasting guilt. He knows this. That is why He sent His Son, Jesus, to come into the world to save us from our sins. And it begins with the call to repentance. Recognize your sin for what it is. Know that you are the cause of your own impending death. You, and not someone else.
St. Paul warns us of this in our Epistle today. He writes,
“For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, walk as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things.” (Philippians 3:18–19 ESV)
When our minds are so focused on the things of this world, we forget our baptismal identity. Each one of you knows some, maybe close friends or even family members, who no longer recognize their deeds and life as full of sin. We don’t have to go far to find those who glory in their shame, who flaunt sins of greed and sensuality and desire before the world, and don’t care if God or anyone knows about it. Their minds are set on earthly things, as St. Paul says. And we are right there with them.
This is why Jesus weeps and laments over Jerusalem, His own city. You can imagine this scene in our Lord’s life. He’s on His way to die, and still they try to keep Him from saving them. You can imagine Jesus looking over His city and saying these words,
“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, but you would not!” (Luke 13:34 ESV alt.)
Hear yourself in those words, dearly baptized. For you have caused our Lord’s anguish as much as they. Repent and believe the Gospel.
The time is coming, and is even here, beloved, when our Lord enters into His city once again. Soon we will sing those words, “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord, Hosanna to the highest!” Jesus enters Jerusalem with forgiveness and healing, life and salvation for you, always for you. He goes to Jerusalem to die on the cross so that you may receive His own body and blood for the forgiveness of all your sins. That is love that knows no bounds.
God has established a New Jerusalem here at His Altar. Come, leave behind all of the sin and hardship that brings you low. Come and rest. God has it all taken care of for you, always for you.
Believe it for Jesus’ sake. Amen.