Luke 19:41-48: Jesus, the Incarnate Temple, Brings True Peace

Jewish Woman (610x351)Jeri was breathtakingly beautiful. All the men wanted to be with her, and all the women wanted to be her. But more than that, she was intelligent and industrious. She also had the best husband in the world, someone who was faithful, loyal, and caring, someone who sacrificed for her.

Jeri’s husband made sure that she had a beautiful house—a stone mansion that stood high on a mountain. And there was no other place that Jeri would rather be. That house’s beauty drew visitors from around the world. And there, she had servants who wore distinctive and resplendent clothing, who served dutifully.

But above all, Jeri had a passion for God. She delighted to be where God had promised to be for her. She loved the traditions and rituals that God had handed down. She knew the ways of God and taught her children God’s ways.

But the shine she had for her husband grew dim. She began to take his grace and love for granted, as if it would always be there, even though her zeal for him was long past and gone. He was no longer her first love; she no longer gave of herself to him.

Now, her husband felt rejected. For she treated him like the air around her—something you barely give a second thought to until you need to breathe. He said that their life together needed to change. And Jeri saw that her actions would sometimes bring him to tears, but she didn’t change her ways. She continued living for herself, marching to her own drum.

But one day, she heard a clamor outside the house. A large, unforgiving crowd had surrounded it. Soon the walls began to shake. It was as if an army had laid siege to her house and pummeled it to the ground, leaving no stone on top of another.

You know Jeri. Her full name is Jerusalem. And her husband was God. The name Jerusalem means, “City of peace.” But, in rejecting Jesus, Jerusalem rejected the one who was the bringer of real peace, of eternal peace.

And if Jerusalem spurned the peace that Jesus gives, then they would only have the peace that the world offers, the peace of Rome. And the Romans knew, like no other, how to enforce their version of peace—even if they had to bring death to make it so!

Jesus warned Jerusalem of that. But when they rejected Him, they also rejected what God wanted for them. They wanted their understanding of God’s Kingdom to take place, in their way and their time. And so those in Jerusalem would twist events their way, rejecting the peace of Jesus, relying on themselves for what they thought was peace. Jerusalem would do that by trying to overthrow their earthly enemies.

In response, Rome would come and bring its version of peace to Jerusalem. The “peace” of Rome would cut off Jerusalem’s food supply, so those within her gates would starve. Rome would force the weak to bury the dead, so they too, from exhaustion, would fall into the graves. Rome would siege Jerusalem until thousands of corpses would clog its alleyways. And, then, on August 10th, 70 AD, the Romans hammered the final nail in Jerusalem’s coffin, tearing down the Temple.

Jesus foretold those events 40 years earlier. Matthew’s Gospel tells us that Jesus said, “Then there will be great suffering such as the world has never seen and never will again!” (Matthew 24:21). That happened to Jerusalem, as they continued rejecting God, wanting, instead, what they wanted. No wonder Jesus wept!

That’s what happened to Jerusalem, God’s City, whom He loved like no other. His woman, Jerusalem, rejected Him by rejecting His Son. What a stark lesson for us. But here we are, some 2,000 years later, still not learning from the mistakes of God’s people in times past. We think, “We aren’t like them!”

And so, thinking we are different, we commit the same sins. Like them, we rationalize our sins. That’s not finding peace in Jesus. Like them, we have even called evil good and good evil (Isaiah 5:20). That’s not finding peace in Jesus.

Like the Jews of yesteryear, we often want God to march to our drum. Like them, we act in ways that show that we really don’t believe that “in all things, God works for the good of those who love Him” (Romans 8:28). Such unbelief doesn’t find peace in Jesus. Such unbelief doesn’t make for peace but, instead, causes God to weep.

Don’t you know that you are God’s New Jerusalem, the Bride of Christ? And what a husband you have! He’s faithful and loyal and gives of Himself for you. But like Jerusalem of old, sometimes He no longer interests you. He’s become like the air that you breathe, unnoticed until you need Him. Jesus is no longer your first love.

That’s why you go about your busy life as if He’s not that important. For if Jesus were most important to you, then coming to receive Him, where He has promised to come to you, would be the most important event in your life. But that’s not the case, is it?

Oh, we’ve become masters at rationalizing away our sin. That’s why we don’t take turning away from it that seriously. We mouth our confession of sin, in a superficial way, but our hearts belie the truth that our mouths are speaking.

Remember Jerusalem of old. Remember the Temple. Remember 70 AD. For today is the Day of your Visitation, when Jesus also visits you. Today, God calls you to do what Jerusalem did not do. So, today, do not say, “God forgives me, so now I can lie, cheat, steal, or hate.” Today, do not say, “Of course I’m in.” Today, God calls you to recognize your sin, your weakness of faith, and trust in Jesus, once more.

Trust, but you need not weep. For Jesus draws near—not just to warn you in love—but to bring to you His Word of Peace. Remember, it’s His peace, not yours; that makes all the difference! For like Jerusalem, it’s not our sin that condemns us, but our unbelief. Remember that God shows His power, above all, in showing mercy and compassion. Remember, that’s why He gathers you here this morning.

God calls you here to receive what He gives you in remembrance of Jesus. That means we get to remember, not just 70 AD, but also 33 AD. That was when Jesus visited Jerusalem, one last time, despite knowing what would happen to Him. The people, even children, greeted Him with “Hosannas.” But behind all that fanfare, Jesus was weeping. He knew that most of His Old-Covenant people would reject Him as the Messiah and refuse to live in the New Covenant that He would usher in.

But even more took place in that year, in 33 AD. That was the year that another Temple was destroyed. That Temple was Jesus, the Temple of God in the Flesh. Referring to Himself, Jesus said, “Destroy this Temple, and I will raise it again in three days” (John 2:19). And destroy that Temple they did!

They surrounded Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, barricading Him in, with Judas, the betrayer, leading the way. But those who surrounded Jesus were not only Jews but also Gentiles. Pontius Pilate, Roman soldiers, and the rule of Rome all had their way with Jesus, doing what was convenient, instead of what was right.

Even those who killed Jesus show us whom He came to save. He came to save both Jew and Gentile; that’s everyone. That means He died, not just for those who committed sins of convenience, but even for those who committed sins of willful intent.

So, there was God’s Temple, in the flesh, being demolished and suffering on a cross of death. There, Jesus, as God’s incarnate Temple, housed all of your unbelief and sins, so they would die in His flesh on the cross, and be brought low in the tomb of death.

Jesus was God’s Temple razed and torn down to become God’s Temple raised and lifted up. He was raised to lift you out of death and fill you with the Holy Spirit. When it comes to Christ, this prayer of St. Patrick describes every Christian:

Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me. Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me. Christ on my right, Christ on my left, Christ when I lie down, Christ when I sit down.

Jesus drew near and wept, for Jerusalem didn’t want the peace that He gave. Today, He draws near to you, His New Jerusalem. And for the faithful, wearing His robes of righteousness, His eyes brighten. For you not only know the Source of true peace, Jesus, but you also know where He has promised to give it to you. For where you receive Jesus, you receive the peace that He gives. They come together.

Jesus has scrubbed away your sin, making you shine in glowing splendor. That was in Holy Baptism. Jesus comes to cleanse you, not with a whip, like He cleansed the Temple of old, but by the nail scars in His hands. That happens in Holy Absolution. Jesus comes to you in His body and blood, so you can taste and see that God is good. That takes place in His Holy Supper. As the book of Hebrews tells us:

You have come to … the heavenly Jerusalem, to countless angels in joyful assembly, to the Church of the Firstborn, who names are written in heaven. You have come to God, the judge of all, to the spirits of the righteous made perfect. You have come to Jesus, the mediator of the New Covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel. [Hebrews 12:22-24]

As Jesus draws near to you, draw near to Him, receiving the peace that only He can give you. Amen.