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Graphic Pictures for Slow Learners

Jesus painted a graphic picture of a besieged Jerusalem, including the grisly death of the inhabitants and the total destruction of the city, all because they would not learn the lesson of the gospel, that God had visited them in the person of Jesus Christ. He expressed grief over the city, but painted a picture of judgment, so that, just maybe, some would learn. Such judgment will also come upon our age.

Sermon for the Tenth Sunday after Trinity, August 16, 2020, Pastor Edward Bryant. Faith & Our Savior Lutheran Churches, Medford & Grants Pass, Oregon.

Luke 19:41–44 (CSB)

41 As he approached and saw the city, he wept for it, 42 saying, “If you knew this day what would bring peace—but now it is hidden from your eyes. 43 For the days will come on you when

  • your enemies will build a barricade around you, surround you, and hem you in on every side.
  • 44 They will crush you and your children among you to the ground,
  • and they will not leave one stone on another in your midst,

because you did not recognize the time when God visited you.”

Dear fellow redeemed: Luke records a relationship between God and humanity that is repeated again and again throughout the ages, but it is focused and concentrated here when God Himself comes to humanity. It begins with His love, which is received by some and rejected by others, leading to His grief over the rejection of salvation, and finally the judgment that falls upon the unbelieving.

Jesus Love, Grief, and Judgment toward Jerusalem is universal in His relationship with humanity, which means that His Love, Grief, and Judgment apply also to our age. But in spite of the fear of death, in spite of the warning of eternal judgment, in spite of the clamor or our consciences, every society that has been given the gospel eventually turns away and is destroyed. Look out America! And in case you haven’t gotten the message, here are some …

GRAPHIC PICTURES FOR SLOW LEARNERS

  1. Love from the Beginning
  2. Grief and Judgment
  3. Saving the Remnant
  1. Love from the Beginning

First we need to know about what we call God’s “antecedent will.” For starters, what does God want for all people, and therefore for you? Simply put, as Paul taught Timothy, He “wants everyone to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” (1 Timothy 2:4, CSB) We see this when Adam and Eve fell into sin, rather than destroy them and consign them to hell with the rebellious angels, He promised to send a Savior. (Gen 3:15)

He wrote of His power and wisdom in nature, and His judgment in the hearts of people; so Paul writes, “For God’s wrath is revealed from heaven against all godlessness and unrighteousness of people who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth, since what can be known about God is evident among them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, that is, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen since the creation of the world, being understood through what he has made. As a result, people are without excuse.” (Romans 1:18–20, CSB) So, while every person every born, deserves God’s wrath, He carries out His promises and devised a way to satisfy His judgment without carrying it out on us.

Scripture is full of the good news of what He has done, as Peter summarized it, “For Christ also suffered for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring you to God.” (1 Peter 3:18, CSB) And as Jesus put it Himself, “For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save the lost.”” (Luke 19:10, CSB) He said it repeatedly, as in John 3, “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” (John 3:17, CSB)

What’s more, He calls upon us to reflect His undeserved love toward humanity in our lives, “But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven. For he causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.” (Matthew 5:44–45, CSB)

Because of this there is always hope for all.

When the drunk repents and regrets the past, there if forgiveness. When those who take the life of an unborn child awaken to what they have done, there is forgiveness. When you reflect on what you have done to hurt others, or what you have not done to honor God, there is forgiveness. The message of Christ is “Repent and believe the good news.” Because of Christ’s atonement there is good news, otherwise there would be only repentance, regret, and despair.

2. Grief and Judgment

But because of this love of God, He has expressed grief over and over again, beginning with the sin that poisoned humanity at the dawn of time, and continuing through the prophets, like Ezekiel, “Say to them, As I live, declares the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live; turn back, turn back from your evil ways, for why will you die, O house of Israel?” (Ezekiel 33:11, ESV)

Jesus expressed the same grief, as Luke writes in our lesson for today, or as Matthew recorded Him, “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! See, your house is left to you desolate.” (Matthew 23:37–38, ESV)

Even to this day His faithful pastors share that grief, “Obey those who rule over you, and be submissive, for they watch out for your souls, as those who must give account. Let them do so with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you.” (Hebrews 13:17, NKJV)

Grief comes from a recognition of the consequent will of God. Though God from the beginning desires our salvation, He is Holy and cannot tolerated what is unholy. Even His own son, bearing our sins, was cast off there on the cross. As a consequence of their unbelief, the judgment of God will fall upon all who do not repent and believe the gospel. As David said, “For you are not a God who delights in wickedness; evil cannot dwell with you. The boastful cannot stand in your sight; you hate all evildoers.” (Psalm 5:4–5, CSB)

So Jesus expresses His grief. 41 As he approached and saw the city, he wept for it, 42 saying, “If you knew this day what would bring peace—but now it is hidden from your eyes. 43 For the days will come on you when

  • your enemies will build a barricade around you, surround you, and hem you in on every side.
  • 44 They will crush you and your children among you to the ground,
  • and they will not leave one stone on another in your midst,

because you did not recognize the time when God visited you.”

Jerusalem was surrounded and besieged. Josephus tells us they were starved until they ate every rat in the city and would fight over the bodies of the children and the aged to eat them. When the Romans broke the defenses, they would swing the children by the feet and crush their heads on the stones and run the others through with the sword or lance. They cut down trees far and wide to crucify still others.

The suffering was indescribable. But it won’t end there. Do you think our society will be spared? Look around you! Our state allows the killing of unborn children up to the day of birth. Marriage (and sex) are divorced from life in children. One of the presidential candidates has threatened penalties against churches if they condemn the perverse practices of the LGBT agitators so beloved of the media and entertainment industries.

Speaking of which, the denial of the Lord as Creator is the only worldview tolerated in media and education. Every sin is excused, and every virtue condemned.

So  why do we think we will escape judgment. What if this Coronavirus were a REAL plague? What if the transportation system broke down and there were no groceries? How many would starve? What if war did the same thing? I can’t tell you when or where it will fall, but judgment awaits this society, and is only held off because of God’s mercy: Because of the Lord’s faithful love we do not perish, for his mercies never end. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness!” (Lamentations 3:22–23, CSB)

In Luke 12 we read of Jesus commenting on a terrible accident, the crushing of 18 men when a tower fell on them, and a terrible injustice when Pilate slaughtered some Galileans and used their blood in sacrifices. He lays down a principle for all such calamities – “I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish.”” (Luke 13:5, NKJV)

And worse than all of this is hell, where there is an eternity sorrow, regret, pain and despair, because people reject, dismiss, or just ignore the Peace of the Gospel. This is the reason Jesus grieves.

3. Saving the Remnant

But some will believe. Elijah thought he was the last believer left, but the Lord assured him that there was a remnant of 7000 who had remained faithful. So, Paul says, “In the same way, then, there is also at the present time a remnant chosen by grace.” (Romans 11:5, CSB)

Because Christ has atoned for the sins of the world, whenever and wherever there is repentance, when someone says, “My God, I have done wrong. Is there hope for me?” the answer is always “YES!”  We don’t have to hope we win God’s love, because His love is from the beginning. We don’t have to hope we can make amends, for Christ has paid our redemption price. We don’t have to hope that He will be merciful, for His mercy is everlasting.

So, until the end of time, sadly, and with so much sorrow and grief, you can expect the judgment of God to fall upon this world. It is to take away the sense of self-righteousness, to tear down the arrogance, and to destroy the self-sufficiency of a rebellious humanity, so that finally they might recognize that God has visited His creation to save, before a person’s death-day, or the last day when He visits in judgment.

God grant that none here give reason for the Lord to grieve, but in good times and bad, everyone her will find their hope in the Lord.

AMEN.