JESUS SHOWS HIS COMPASSION AS WELL AS HIS ANGER
Luke 19: 41-48
Opening Prayer: O most gracious Heavenly Father, Not only have You created us and continue to bless us with so many earthly gifts, but You also visit us with Your grace and mercy in the Means of Grace. To You belongs all glory and honor. Grant that we may never spurn Your visitation among us but keep us in your Word, let us hunger for the Holy and Blessed Supper of Your dear Son and our Redeemer. Even now, bless the hearing of Your Word this day that once again we may repent of our sins and look with faith to the holy cross of Jesus where our sins have been erased and the devil destroyed. In the holy and blessed Name of Christ. Amen.
It is Palm Sunday. The Caravan in which Jesus traveled had come to a turn in the road where the whole city of Jerusalem, the city of God, suddenly burst into view. There lay the capital with its imposing walls, and immediately before them the Temple, the Sanctuary of Israel and the Holy place of God. The Temple with its gilded roofs, its marble walls, and magnificent porches, rebuilt by Herod the Great 46 years before gladdened the heart of every Israelite. It is to this City of God that Jesus comes to offer the greatest sacrifice in all of human history: His life for the sins of the world. Yet, before Jesus is nailed to the cross, several events must take place to fulfill all Scripture. Two of those events set before us this morning. As we look at those two events, our heart is gladdened also as we get:
AN INTIMATE GLIMPSE INTO THE HEART OF OUR SAVIOR.
- As Jesus weeps over Jerusalem (His compassion).
- As Jesus cleanses the Temple (His anger).
AS JESUS WEEPS OVER JERUSALEM (His compassion).
Ironically, Luke is the only New Testament writer to record the event of Jesus weeping over Jerusalem. Now remember, Luke was not an apostle. Luke served as St. Paul’s secretary recording the events of the growth of the New Testament Church. So Luke had to do research to compile his Gospel account. This means that this event must have had a profound effect on the other disciples who were the eyewitnesses.
Now also remember, Jesus knows what is going to happen to Him. He purposely enters the City of Peace to allow sinful men to nail Him to the cross. Knowing that, Jesus still says: “Would that you, even you, had known on this day the things that make for peace!” He speaks these words, not in anger or spite or with thoughts of revenge. He speaks these words in genuine love and compassion for His chosen nation Israel with tears flowing down His holy face. Here you and I, the sinner get to see into the heart of God Himself who wishes, whose greatest desire is for Israel, and all people to come to repentance and trust in Christ, not merely as Lord to whom we owe our loyalty, but as the Redeemer of sinners.
However, the reason for the tears is now stated by our blessed Redeemer: “Would that you, even you, had known on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes.” This lament indicates that in spite of our Redeemer’s deepest wish, that wish would not be fulfilled in Jerusalem or among the Jews. The “peace” of which Jesus speaks is more than the peace among nations or people. Jesus is speaking of the peace God gives to the troubled soul. The word “Shalom” in the Hebrew involves salvation and therefore eternal peace as St. Paul says, “Now that we are justified by faith, we have peace with God.” (Romans 5:1).
Jesus wanted Jerusalem and its inhabitants to have this peace, but now it is hidden from their eyes because they would not have anything to do with the pardon He offered them through Holy Baptism and His absolution. They utterly rejected John’s baptism believing they did not need to repent. Jesus graphically tells Jerusalem their fate; Jerusalem would be utterly destroyed by General Titus with a siege starting in 67 ad and ending in 70 ad destroying not only the entire walled city, but with the starvation and slaughter of all its inhabitants, men, women and children. They had spurned their time of grace or as the Greek text says, “Because you did not know the time of your visitation.”
As we get an intimate glimpse into the heart of our Savior, might we ask ourselves the question: Have we spurned the time of God’s visitation? What do you think God thinks when you sin? What do you think God thinks when you entertain thoughts of lust or engage in bickering or quarreling or hold grudges? Do you think that as baptized children of God that He is pleased? What do you think God thinks when the same lips and tongue that receive the holy and sacred Body and Blood of Jesus call upon the powers of darkness to spew out gossip, slander, curses and threats? Do you think Jesus weeps over you?
Jesus tells us in Revelation 21:8, “But as for the unfaithful….they will find themselves in the lake burning with fire and sulfur.” Have you ever been unfaithful to the Word and Command of God in any way? If you answered “yes.” Praise God for that…Now there is hope for your soul. The time of God’s visitation for us is now. Jesus is calling you to repentance once again this holy day before the great Day of Judgment after which no man can repent. And all the angels in heaven rejoice today because of your repentance. The heart of Jesus yearns for your soul now. And He is saying to you this Day: “Him that cometh unto Me, I will in no wise cast out.”
AS JESUS CLEANSES THE TEMPLE (His anger).
From the book of Matthew, it is evident that the cleansing of the Temple occurred on Monday of Holy Week. Jesus is placed before us as the Divine Teacher upholding the honor of God in cleansing the Temple and instructing the multitude in heavenly wisdom. And it is here again that we get a glimpse into the heart of our Savior. But this time it is anger we see. Jesus is angered by what is happening to the Holy Place dedicated to the Name of the true God. It was not wrong to sell items for the various sacrifices. But the merchants were not to fleece the people. The reason for Jesus’ wrath becomes apparent. The Temple was erected as the Holy Place to the Triune God and thus a place of WORSHIP. But it had become a bazaar, a place of noisy traffic where, so we assume, much yelling was heard.
The Holy Sanctuary of the most-high God had been turned into a den or cave of robbers where through unscrupulous practices, innocent, often unsuspecting worshipers were fleeced. The money-changers charged for exchanging the money of the visitors from other areas so that they might have the right amount for the temple tax: the half-shekel. All of this violated the Law of Love and genuine service to God.
What Jesus now did must have angered the High Priests who undoubtedly shared in the profits of the traffickers. Interestingly, the Greek word for “driving out” or “casting out” the money-changers is a word which is used in exorcisms. This suggests that the money-changers are equivalent to unclean spirits who profane the Holy Place of God. Thus, it was not fit for our Holy Savior and His redeeming Word. The Temple must return to its original purpose—a place of petitionary prayer like that of the repentant tax-collector in the parable of Matthew 18.
Sadly, the Temple along with the rest of Jerusalem met the fate of which Jesus speaks in our text for this morning. “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.” There is no Temple and as far as God is concerned, Jerusalem is of no significance for us today other than its historical background to Christ.
However, that does not mean there is no longer a Temple. The inspired and inerrant word of God tell us this: “Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him. For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple.” If you are the Temple of God, is it fit for the indwelling of the Holy and Righteous God? The Holy Spirit entered into you through Holy Baptism, cleansed you from the money-changers, exorcised the evil spirits thus making you His dwelling place. As Paul says of Holy Baptism, “He saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit.”
Now, do you think that Temple is a fit dwelling of God? Jesus cleansed the Temple twice: once before His ministry began and then when He finished His ministry. Apparently after the interval between cleansings, the money-changers had reverted back to their old ways. So I ask you again, “Is God’s Temple today clean and prepared for the indwelling of the most holy God?”
- Is it free of lust and greed?
- Is it unpolluted and without one impure thought?
- Is it free of selfishness and fully dedicated to the service of God and your fellowman?
- Is the Temple of God a house of petitionary prayer each morning and each evening?
- Dear Christian, what do you think God thinks when you make His Temple into something other than a house of prayer?
- What do you think God thinks when that house of prayer becomes a den and cave of opportunity for the devil to work?
Jesus drove out the money-changers, the thieves and robbers, to cleanse His Holy Temple and offer the supreme sacrifice of His Holy Body and Blood on the cross. That supreme sacrifice, which cleanses you from all sin, God has placed in the cleansing water of Holy Baptism. There God cleanses you, His Temple, making it a fit dwelling of the Holy Spirit, indeed, the Spirit of Christ Jesus. Even today, Jesus is calling to you to recall that cleansing once again in repentance. The hour of His visitation is now while we still have breath and life.
You see, the water of Holy Baptism continues to flow for you washing you clean from the filth of your money-changing lives, that is, from your self-serving lives to one in which God sees only the Holy Life of Christ. As Jesus was the One to cleanse the Temple in Jerusalem, so Jesus is the One who cleanses you. In Baptism, we see the angry side of Jesus. He exorcised the unclean spirits overturning their fleecing ways so that the love of God in Christ might free your troubled conscience from the load of sin. In proof of this, your Savior and Redeemer invites you this visitation day to feast on His Body and Blood for the forgiveness of all those times you have desecrated His Holy Temple. Your Redeemer says to you, “Come, bring your sin up to My table. Leave it here and nourish your soul with My Word of forgiveness.”
Yes, your Lord and Redeemer has opened up His treasure-chest of grace and mercy for you to see once again this day. Take a good look at it. Baptism and His Holy Supper give us a glimpse into His compassion for sinners where he desires that your heart rest at peace in the knowledge that God is now at peace with you in Christ Jesus. However, Baptism and His Holy Supper also give us a glimpse into His into His anger, not against you, but against the devil who attempts to fleece you with his temptations to sin. Go in peace. Amen.