41 And when he drew near and saw the city, he wept over it, 42 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. 43 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 44 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.”
45 And he entered the temple and began to drive out those who sold, 46 saying to them, “It is written,
‘My house shall be a house of prayer,’
but you have made it a den of robbers.”
47 And he was teaching daily in the temple. The chief priests and the scribes and the principal men of the people were seeking to destroy him, 48 but they did not find anything they could do, for all the people were hanging on his words.
In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Palm Sunday, King Jesus rode toward Jerusalem on a borrowed donkey as shouts of, “Hosanna,” filled the air. When you ponder that event, you probably imagine smiles on the faces of the people as they wave their palms, children holding out their hands in joy and praise, the disciples proudly walking close to Jesus as part of His royal entourage, and Jesus’ face happy and pleasant as He takes it all in. But it wasn’t all joy for Jesus.
Luke tells us here that before He enters the City of Peace (which is what ‘Jerusalem’ means), Jesus weeps and laments because her residents, by and large, do not live up to their home town’s name. They do not know the things that make for peace. In a tragic twist of irony, the citizens of the City of Peace had no idea where true peace is found.
Jesus had come in the flesh to be their Immanuel, their Savior, their Messiah who would purchase and redeem them with His holy and precious blood. Christ had come to be the King from David’s line who would sit upon the throne forever. He came to remove the curse of death. But they thought He was there to release them from the Roman occupation. While that would have been delivering them, it would have been of no eternal consequence. Jesus was there to do more. However, most of the people of Jerusalem didn’t believe this. They did not know the things that make for peace.
Jesus had come to be the High Priest who offered Himself as the Lamb of God who takes away their sin and the sin of the world. He had come to be the fulfillment of all the sacrifices that pointed the people to Him. Jesus had come to be the true Temple where God met with His people with His mercy and love. But the majority of Jerusalem chose instead to make an idol out of the building of the Temple with its gold and precious stones. The chief priests, scribes, and leaders of the people didn’t want Jesus to die for their sins. They just wanted Him to die, and they wanted to be the ones who destroyed Him. They did not know the things that make for peace.
Jesus is the fulfillment of all the Old Testament offices: prophet, priest, and king. But because they had rejected their true Priest and King, Jesus weeps over the city as the true Prophet predicting destruction. He prophesizes that the City of Peace would be demolished, but His words were ignored, and His warning went unheeded. The majority of the people of Jerusalem did not know the things that make for peace.
About 40 years later, the Roman armies would come to the City of Peace and fulfill Jesus’ prophecy. In one of the most horrific events in all of history, God would send the Roman general Titus to demolish Jerusalem. The Romans would kill around one million of its residents, take enough gold from the Temple to fund the building of the Coliseum, tear the Temple down to the ground brick-by-brick and stone-by-stone, burn the city, and leave it a smoldering pile of charred rubble.
The Scriptures record this prophecy of Jesus as a warning to us. God is not mocked. Sin does not go unpunished. And because God has freely and graciously given us the things that make for peace, we must recognize and embrace them when He sends them.
Don’t fall into the devil’s temptation to embrace a peace that cannot and will not last. Don’t grow comfortable and complacent in your sin. When God doesn’t send immediate judgement upon our sin, the devil whispers in our ear that God either doesn’t really mind our sin all that much or that God won’t actually judge us.
This is what had happened to the people of Jerusalem. God’s house was to be a house of prayer. But when Jesus enters the Temple that day, He sees nothing but a Wal-Mart of religious items. So, He drives out the money changers and merchants with a whip.
Today, some churches aim to be little more than places of cheap entertainment. But even here in our congregation, how often is this sanctuary considered to be a place to come for a free cup of coffee, sit in a comfortable chair, sing a few songs, and catch up with friends?
Repent. This isn’t a social club or just a nice place to spend a Sunday morning. This is where God comes to meet you. This is where God delivers His gifts of Word and Sacrament. This is a place of wonder as you hear the Gospel, a place of joy as you receive forgiveness, and a place of shelter in God’s presence. Here and now, God is delivering to you all the things that make for peace. Receive them. Rejoice in them. Live in them.
Eliza, today you are baptized. Today, God has connected His Word to water and washed you clean of all your sins – now and forever. Eliza, today God has joined you to Jesus’ death and resurrection and clothed you in Christ. And Eliza, God will continue to pour out upon you the things that make for peace through His holy and precious Word. Receive them and be at peace because of them.
All you saints, remember this: The things that make for peace are not always the things that feel pleasant. Because you are a sinner, the things that make for peace come through God’s Law and Gospel. When you hear God’s Law, don’t be like the people of Jeremiah’s day who hardened their hearts and didn’t know how to blush (from our OT lesson Jer. 8:4-12[esp. v. 12]).
Blush, faint, weep, and die to your sin. Repent. Stop your wickedness. Turn. Hang on Jesus’ words. Jesus has come. He has given Himself unto death to be your Savior. He has shed His holy and precious blood for you which He now gives to you who hunger and thirst for righteousness. Come. Receive. Be at peace now, and look forward to the eternal City of Peace, the heavenly Jerusalem (Heb. 12:22), which will never fall, never fade, and never be destroyed. Amen.
The peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.