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Trinity 10 – Luke 19:41-48

by pastorjuhl ~ July 24th, 2008

In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit

“Don’t it always seem to go that you don’t know what you’ve got ‘til it’s gone?” That’s how Joni Mitchell puts it in her song “Big Yellow Taxi”. She’s talking about the places and things we loved once, but got used to it so much that we quit visiting them. So, as she puts it, “They paved paradise and put up a parking lot”.

The same can be said about the Jews, their city Jerusalem, and the heartbeat of their life and their city, the Temple. The Jews were God’s chosen people. Out of all the civilizations on earth, He chose them as His own beloved children. The Savior of mankind would come through them. That’s the promise Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob staked their whole lives. God had them go through some interesting times, but in the end He would come through and rescue them from every calamity. He provided a place for them to live. He wiped out all their enemies even in the most extreme circumstances. He provided them a place to worship and an entire tribe to run the house of worship. All He asked in return was childlike trust in Him and His promise of forthcoming redemption from the worst enemies of all: sin, death, and the devil.

The Jews consistently allowed their hearts to grow hard. They suffered stinging battlefield defeats. They repented and God forgave them. He sent wise men to serve as judges. Yet the Jews weren’t satisfied. They wanted a king. So God reluctantly gave them a king.

You might say that was the beginning of the end for the Jews. Next thing you know there are two kingdoms, intermarriage with foreigners for the greater majority of the tribes, trips into exile, destruction and reconstruction of the temple, destruction and reconstruction of Jerusalem, and the continual line of prophets whom some heard and others ignored.

Then comes Messiah, the Promised One sent from God. By that time most of the Jews had grown stubborn in their ways. There was no room in the brotherhood for One Who comes to fulfill the Law and the Prophets. The Jews were having too much fun living out their traditions and making a nice profit along the way. Sure there were many who had ears to hear the Word of the Lord from Jesus’ mouth. Many Jews saw and heard Jesus for Who He was and believed. Many more were ready to nail Him to a cross and shut Him up for once and for all. After all, He said He was the King of the Jews. The Jews had no king but Caesar. You don’t want to mess up a testy relationship with those who conquered your territory.

On the eve of His betrayal leading to His death, Jesus weeps over the “city of peace”. He knows that about 40 years later Jerusalem would be laid to waste along with nearly all her residents. That is a fact of history. It cannot be denied. August 10, A.D. 70 is the exact date of the fall of Jerusalem to the Roman Empire. 1.1 million Jews were killed. Many were taken into slavery. The Jewish claim for the land that was once promised to them was ended for once and for all. The Jews did not know the time of their visitation.

The Jews’ story is our story too. Sometimes we don’t know what we have until it’s taken from us. It might be a sad event in your life. A friend, strong in his or her Christian faith, dies of cancer. A relative is taken suddenly from this world with no chance to say good-bye. Something expected at work doesn’t happen. Instead it’s an unexpected, and unwanted, event. These are perfect moments to find refuge in the Lord’s House. But it seems the Heavenly Father let you twist in the wind one too many times. Faith grows dim. Hope disappears. Love is shattered. Soon there is no room in your life for Jesus. You stand opposed to His every attempt to bring you grace, mercy, and peace not found in this world. You become obdurate; unmoved by persuasion, pity, or tender feelings about God or neighbor. The numbness of wanting to be alone becomes your friend. God becomes your enemy. You forget all about the time of visitation

Beloved, NOW is the time of visitation; now is the day of salvation. Now is the perfect time to cast all your cares upon the Lord God, for He cares for you. Now is the time to let God’s Word clean your temple of false idols, misplaced love, and unrepentant sin.

Christ’s death for your sins ushers in a glorious time of grace. This time of grace is a short season, but one of great joy. After our Lord’s resurrection from the dead, He promises His apostles the descent of the Holy Spirit. His Spirit will go with them in the preaching of the Word and the administration of the means of grace. These men will give the Good News of our salvation.

The Lord God continues to visit His people just as He visited us according to the flesh. He visits us every Lord’s Day to deliver forgiveness of sins. His Word declares that His blood covers our transgressions. Every spot of sin is washed clean in His blood. It was blood that once delivered the Jews from the hands of the Egyptians. It is blood that delivers us from slavery to fear and despair into freedom and forgiveness.

He visits us every Lord’s Day to deliver life. Where there is blood, there is life. Jesus’ Word bestows life when He declares through His called and ordained servant: Take, drink, this cup is the New Testament in My blood, shed for you for the forgiveness of sins. The Body and Blood of Jesus in the Lord’s Supper eradicate all doubt that we might have about the life of the world to come. His Supper feeds our body and soul with the highest good; higher than the best supper at the fanciest restaurant.

He visits us every Lord’s Day to deliver salvation. If you are familiar with the Bible, you are familiar with the many rescues our heavenly Father provides for His chosen people. He rescues Noah and seven of his family and two of every animal from the flood. He rescues Abraham from an idolatrous family. He rescues Joseph from prison. Gideon leads a light brigade to victory, rescuing the Israelites from their enemies. All these rescues lead to the last rescue: Jesus Christ rescuing both Jew and Gentile from eternal death to eternal life.

His rescue mission for you began at your baptism. He drowned you through water to give you life with Him both here and in eternity. He sends His holy angels to watch over and protect you from all the snares of Satan. He keeps you steadfast in the true faith through consistent doses of preaching, absolution, and the Lord’s Supper. He will continue to feed and lead you through this life into the life of the world to come. All this He does when He visits you each week in this house at this hour.

It doesn’t have to go like Joni Mitchell’s song. Jesus knows we will forget about Him. Yet He doesn’t give up on us. He will still be here even when we are not. The Father will not pave paradise and put up a parking lot. Jesus still visits us, just as He said He would, with forgiveness, life, and salvation. He will come again, but not in a big yellow taxi, to take us to paradise, where we will live life as it was meant to be with believing Jews and Gentiles who relished every moment of our Lord’s visitation. Believe it for Jesus’ sake.

In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit

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