Trinity 10 2012
August 12, 2012
Zechariah 9:9-10 says, “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your king is coming to you; righteous and having salvation is he, humble and mounted on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey. I will cut off the chariot from Ephraim and the war horse from Jerusalem; and the battle bow shall be cut off, and he shall speak peace to the nations; his rule shall be from sea to sea, and from the River to the ends of the earth.”
Luke 13:33-34 says, “Nevertheless, I must go on my way today and tomorrow and the day following, for it cannot be that a prophet should perish away from Jerusalem.’ 34 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, and you were not willing! 35 Behold, your house is forsaken. And I tell you, you will not see me until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!’”
The readings from Zechariah 9 and Luke 13, both shed a little perspective on what is happening in this mornings Gospel. Both readings remind us that Jesus’ ministry is coming to its conclusion, but not before entering Jerusalem one last time, and that this conclusion to Jesus’ ministry was a long time in the making. Jesus’ three years of ministry and giving peace, culminates in Him being the Prince of Peace upon the cross in the city of Peace, Salem, without the inhabitants knowing what peace truly is.
Jesus tried to save Jerusalem from this destruction like a mother hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but they rebelled, relying on themselves and their own greatness for salvation. They falsely relied on their righteousness which only brings death and destruction instead of peace.
Jesus wept over Jerusalem 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.”
So, Jesus wept in the midst of all of this rejoicing, like David after the death of his son Absolom. Jesus wept tears, not of joy, but of pain and sorrow. Jesus wept tears that only God can cry over a people that have rejected Him, that are going to be destroyed in 70ad.
Josephus describes part of the destruction in gruesome detail when he says, “The city of Jerusalem was well fortified and had three walls. Therefore the Roman forces approached in full force to storm the city; and after much work, the first and second walls conquered and taken. At this same time, an innumerable multitude of people died of hunger, as Josephus wrote. The best of friends would often come to blows over a small piece of bread; children would often rip food from their parents’ mouths. Neither brother nor sister had mercy upon the other. A bushel of corn was more precious than gold. Driven by hunger, some ate manure; some, the cinches of their saddles; some, the leather stripped from their shields; some still had hay in their mouths when their bodies were found; some sought to escape starvation by means of their own filth. So many died of starvation that 115,000 corpses were found in the city and buried. Hegesippus reported that, at one gate alone, several thousand were carried out, and that 600,000 died because of the siege.”
Later in his writing Josephus says, “It was then that the soldiers became aware that a certain Jew was picking gold which he had swallowed out of his own excrement. Thus a rumor began to spread throughout the entire camp. This rumor caused those soldiers who thought about it to believe that they could find gold in all the Jews who had come out of the city to their encampment. More than two thousand Jews were disemboweled in a single night; and many more would have suffered the same fate had Titus not decreed that the captives should not be killed.”
Jesus was not the harbinger of this wanton destruction. Instead Jesus shows God’s mercy and love because Jesus enters Jerusalem as a Savior, not as an evil Judge hell bent on the destruction of the people with their city and their precious temple.
This is why, when Jesus entered the temple, He “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.”
Jesus was fulfilling Malachi 3, which says, “Behold, I send my messenger, and he will prepare the way before me. And the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple; and the messenger of the covenant in whom you delight, behold, he is coming, says the Lord of hosts.” Jesus did this cleaning out of the temple while quoting Isaiah 56.
Jesus cleaned out the temple to restore it to its original purpose and function, a place of prayer not a place of profiteering. Jesus did this to once again show that He is the New Israel, the New Adam that has not sinned. Jesus stuck His perfect, sinless hands in the muck and the mire to clean out the temple so the faithful Jews could offer their Passover sacrifices in peace, while the true Sacrifice of Jesus on the cross was giving fulfillment to those happening in the temple. Jesus cleaning out the temple showed that His time was coming to an end, an end that led only to the Sacrifice of the true spotless Lamb of God, the New Israel, for the sins not only of Israel, but for all who believe. Because Jesus knew that “without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness (Heb 9:22).”
So I ask, “What effect did Jesus’ tears have on the destruction of Jerusalem that was going to take place?”
These tears of compassion, of love, of peace, unfortunately, flowed in vain. The sound of inevitability was at hand, the train was on the tracks and it was going full steam ahead. All Jesus could do was cry for Jerusalem, cry for those in the city. Jesus cried for all of those who thought that they didn’t need a Savior and that their righteousness would save them. Jesus cried for all those who thought, in foolish arrogance, that they could save themselves, work themselves up from the quickly collapsing cityscape all around them.
The destruction eventually came. No stone was left on top of another. Jerusalem, the city of Peace, was left in ruins when they unknowingly slaughtered Peace made manifest. The city walls were useless, barely even slowing the army down. The men courageously fought in vain because they were not fighting against other men, but against God’s just judgment. It didn’t matter how diligent they were in offering sacrifices for God, because for centuries they were ignoring the prophets theme of “I desire steadfast love and not sacrifice, the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings (Hosea 6:6).”
In the end, even the command of Titus did nothing to swage the carnal appetites of those soldiers that attacked Jerusalem and left it to burn. The soldiers can be described as viciously licentious, just like the French revolutionaries who rebelled against the aristocracy of Paris in Dickens, a Tale of Two Cities. Only following their own bellies and desires. The hunger of greed, lust, theft and murder was satiated.
These tears mean something different for us here today. For us those tears were not flowing in vain, instead they stand as a reminder from our Jesus who is both true God and true man in that He wept, and still weeps for rejectors of His Gospel.
What serves for your peace? Jesus Christ is your peace. He is the Prince of Peace who unselfishly and without fanfare suffered and died in a world that wanted nothing to do with peace. It went so far as to crucify Him as a rabble rousing, hate mongering, blaspheming terrorist between two other terrorists. All of God the Fathers burning anger that destroyed the world in a flood and entire cities later, hatred against sin, vengeance on the murder of innocents beginning with Abel, and want for blood for the forgiveness of sins Jesus endured on the cross. Payment was made in total for all who are called to be God’s sons and daughters.
This time of divine visitation is now for you. Come to the altar, see Jesus weeping over Jerusalem. See Jesus in the upper room. See Jesus upon the cross. See Jesus leaving the tomb empty. Come and partake of this visitation of Christ in body and blood, in bread and wine, in sacrifice and resurrection for you.
Luke 19 ends with “Jesus 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.”
Listen to Jesus and hang to His words of peace in a world that finds delight in destruction and war. Testify about the peace that only the Prince of Peace, Jesus Christ upon the cross, provides. As long as the doctrine remains pure the visitation of grace will never be overthrown.
Image is from Higher Things.