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"The Things that Make for Peace" - Luke 19:41-44 - The Tenth Sunday after Trinity

Updated: Aug 21, 2022

[Luke 19:41-44] And when he drew near and saw the city, he wept over it, 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. 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, because you did not know the time of your visitation.”

The Things that Make for Peace

The Old Testament prophet Jeremiah –in the years leading up to Jerusalem’s destruction and captivity – was called by God to stand in the gate of the Lord’s house and say, “Amend your ways and your deeds, and I will let you dwell in this place. Do not trust in these deceptive words: ‘This is the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord.’”

“Amend your ways and your deeds and your ruin will be diverted – I will forgive and restore. But don’t deceive yourselves. Don’t say, ‘Look, we belong to the Temple. We’re members of the house of the Lord. We’re standing within its walls. Therefore, God approves of us, and we are safe.’”

No, God says – don’t trust in that deceptive way of the thinking. “I’m a member. Always have been. I attend. I serve in this or that position; I’m in this or that group. I’m one of the good ones!”

No, God doesn’t merely look at the membership roll or your position or years of service. He’s not impressed that your feet have stood in His house. God looks at you yourself. God looks into the depths of heart and mind. God sees in secret. God hears in secret – “I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak” [Matthew 12:36].

God looks at you yourself and sees if your feet are standing within His commandments, His will. That Second Table of the Law – which commands you to care for your neighbor’s every bodily need, to help, to feed – to not be angry or insult [Matthew 5:21-30] – to be sexually pure and decent in thought, words, and deeds – to be faithful in marriage and to respect the bounds of another’s marriage –

– to not be jealous of the life and wealth of others – to be content with what you have – and to care about your neighbor’s possessions and income as you care about your own, happily helping them to keep and improve what is theirs –

– and, especially, to care for and protect your neighbor’s reputation – not spreading news of their faults – not complaining about one another to each other – not isolating others – always finding ways to speak well of each other, to explain things in the most charitable way – to seek to give reasons and make excuses for others instead of being glad to fault them – to assume the best about each other’s motives (“love believes all things” [1 Corinthians 13]).

- and the command to honor father and mother, and other authorities, in family, state, and church. Not to displease or anger them, but to love and cherish them – not because they are worthy, but because God commands it, and He is worthy.

God sees me and where my feet stand – whether in or out of His commandments.

And God sees if we stand within His commandments in the First Table of the Law. The first commandment – to fear, love, and trust in God above all things – making nothing else and no one else into our god. (To what our heart cling most, that is our god. “Have no other gods”)

The second commandment – to rightly use God’s name – to be calling upon His name in prayer, acknowledging Him to be God – and to not misuse His name as a joke or a casual thing or a cheap slogan. / And the third commandment – to pause from our own work and attend to God’s Word and worship. To rest and find our rest in God (what a beautiful commandment; yet so neglected).

God sees where my feet stand. Without a doubt – in thought, word, and deed – my feet are, in so many ways, daily walking outside the boundaries of God’s commandments. That’s called trespass, transgression – “forgive us our trespasses…”

“But I stand in this church!” Like John the Baptist said to the Pharisees, “Do not presume to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father,’ for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children for Abraham.’” [Matthew 3:9]

God could raise up from the dirt better pew sitters and church-servants than all of us combined if He wanted to. But He still wouldn’t be impressed. He’s looking for sorry and contrite hearts. God is looking for hearts which say, “Lord, I am sorry. Forgive me. Help me to do better.”

“Will you… come and stand before Me in this house, which is called by My name, and say, ‘We are delivered!’—only to go on doing all these abominations?... Amend your ways and your deeds” [Jeremiah 7:3,9-11].

Those residents of Jerusalem standing in the Temple in Jeremiah’s day didn’t know the things that make for peace. It was told them, but they were hard hearted. Disaster wasn’t diverted. God’s judgment fell on them in the form of captivity and destruction.

Fast forward several centuries. Jesus, in our Gospel reading, is looking out over the same city. A rebuilt temple. Descendants of the same people. And for them, Jesus weeps. “Would that you, even you, had known on this day the things that make for peace!”

But their hearts were hard in His day once again. Because of their hard hearts, all that God was doing for them for their peace was hidden from their eyes. Once again, their city faced God’s wrath: “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.” This happened about forty years later, in 70AD.

When God extended to them peace and forgiveness in His Son, they rejected Him and spit upon the opportunity. “You did not know the time of your visitation.”

What was God’s visitation in Jesus? For what did Jesus come to Jerusalem that week? What does make for peace? “He drew near and saw the city.” Jesus was coming into Jerusalem for Holy Week – the week of the Friday when He would be led out of Jerusalem to be crucified on the cross.

The Lord’s visitation is that He came to die for the sins of His people. His visitation is that destruction and ruin fell upon Him, on the cross, in your place, for your sins. Jesus’ death on the cross is the perfect sacrifice, for your sake, that has placated God’s wrath forever.

“All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to Himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them.” [2 Corinthians 5:18-19]

“Chief of sinners though I be, Jesus shed His blood for meLove that found me--wondrous tho't!--Found me when I sought Him not.” [The Lutheran Hymnal, #342, Chief of Sinners Though I Be]

God’s heart’s desire is that all would be saved. But the hard-hearted will not accept the things that make for peace – they won’t say of themselves, “Chief of sinners though I be”; They won’t say, “I am sorry, Lord. Forgive me. Help me to do better.” Instead, they will trust in their own righteousness, blind to their sinful corruption.

“What shall we say, then?”“Israel – representing the hard-hearted among us – who pursued a law that would lead to righteousness did not succeed in reaching that law. Why? Because they did not pursue it by faith, but as if it were based on works. They have stumbled over the stumbling stone” [Romans 9:30,31]. But, the “Gentiles who did not pursue righteousness have attained it, that is, a righteousness that is by faith.” A gift. “Love that found me – Found me when I sought Him not.”

Jesus has done the things that make for peace. By His blood, He has made peace between you and God. “God and sinners reconciled” [TLH #94, Hark! the Herald Angels Sing].

Brothers and sisters, be aware of the Lord’s visitation to you. He visited once-and-for-all to win your salvation in the cross of Jesus. And now His visitation is often and powerful to give you that salvation. And His visitation is local.

The Lord’s visitation is within these walls. All that Jesus has done for sinners on the cross, He delivers to you here. Here He baptizes. Here He comes to you in His Word preached. Here He comes to you in His Supper eaten and drunk. Here He comes to you in the Absolution, the forgiveness, following the Confession of Sin.

Here is not a lodge or a social group. Don’t be here to be a member of a family club. Come here with deliberate intent – repenting of sin, receiving His full and complete forgiveness, and seeking His help for doing. And then come and do it again and again. There isn’t a week that you don’t need His visitation. Here the Lord visits, for your help and your peace. Amen.

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