Lent 2c, (February 21, 2016)
TITLE: “Put Your Trust Where it Belongs”
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.
No one likes to hear bad news. When bad news comes, it is our instinct as human beings to blame the messenger. If I don’t know about the bad news, then surely the news doesn’t affect me, does it?
Yet that is exactly the scenario we have with Jeremiah. In the prophet Jeremiah we have a picture or image of what Jesus would suffer in His ministry and death and life again. Jeremiah was a prophet and priest about six hundred years before Jesus. He was a prophet at a time when the people of Israel had really forgotten their identity. They had forgotten what it meant to be God’s chosen, and to live in the grace and mercy which only He could give. They worshipped other gods. They let the places of God’s mercy decay. The ones who were there to shepherd the people were instead fleecing the flock. They did not care for the sojourner and foreigner, but rather mistreated him and left him to rot. But when Jeremiah prophesied against Jerusalem and her people, well, the people were not very happy about the process. They did not want to be convicted of sin. And when confronted with the Law, ultimately there are only two reactions: either repentance or rebellion. They rebelled, and so they wanted to kill him, and intended to do so.
We see the same thing with Jesus in our Gospel. Jesus is on his way to Jerusalem to die for the sins of the world. He has preached of the people’s need for a Savior, over and over again. They are broken, they are dead in trespass and sins, they are lost, without a God and therefore without each other.
The people then are just like you and me. Each day there is another death, another loss, another sin that separates and divides us from God and from each other. While in one respect, the world asks “why”, in another way we really don’t want to hear the answer. Do you want to hear that it is your sin which drives the world to madness? It is their fault, it is society’s fault, it is those people, over there. It’s their fault. But your fault? No, surely not. Surely you are not the author of your own downfall. Are you? St. Paul reminds us of the danger here in Philippians 3:
“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)
There are many in the world, sadly, who do not see themselves as the problem, but only want to push away, and to place the blame squarely on someone else, anyone else. So I say to you this day, repent of your sin. Recognize that you are the cause of your own disaster. Repent.
Yet in our text Jesus laments over Jerusalem, not out of anger but out of love. He loves His children, near and far. He loves even the ones who hate Him so. Do you remember His words from the cross? “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:34 ESV) He loves them all, and that includes you. And because He loves them all, he will not be deterred from His purpose, His end and final goal of bringing you back into communion with Him.
The tears of our God are for the lost ones, for the broken like you and me and others the world over. And you also know that not all will be saved. But know this, God’s love is for all, and His mercy extends out to the whole world.
The last words in our text point us to where we are to find Jesus. Our Lord says, “And I tell you, you will not see me until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!’”” (Luke 13:35 ESV) We sing those words every Sunday in the liturgy, right before hearing the words of our Lord in His Supper.
In Jeremiah’s day, the city of Jerusalem would fall to the Babylonians within years of his words of warning. In Jesus’ day, the rebuilt city of Jerusalem fell to the Romans a generation after our Lord’s words. Cities collapse, kingdoms fall, civilizations crumble, but the Word of the Lord endures forever. Don’t put your trust in places or the things of this world.
Put your trust right where it belongs, on the shoulders of Jesus Christ the righteous one. He comes to you now in His Word and meal, with angels and archangels and all the company of heaven. He comes because you have no strength to save yourself (collect of the day). But His strength lies not in the power and might of the world. His strength lies in His compassion and mercy for you. Trust in Him, for He will take care of you.
In Jesus' name. Amen.
And now the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in true faith to life everlasting. Amen.
Holy Cross Lutheran Church
Rev. Todd A. Peperkorn