Pastor James Hopkins preached this sermon on the Tenth Sunday after Trinity, 8/21/2022. The bulletin is available as a PDF: Trinity10 Bulletin
The text for the sermon was the day’s gospel lesson. To read the Bible texts for the Tenth Sunday after Trinity, click here.
Context: This text occurs just after Jesus’ Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem. Palm Branches. Holy Week. “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest.”
So, Jerusalem, a city who has “peace” in its name, has just proclaimed peace in heaven, and welcomed the Prince of Peace, Jesus, into her walls.
And yet, something is amiss. You’ve heard before that most of the Jews had the wrong idea about the Messiah, who He would be for them, what he would do, etc. Even the disciples were prone to this error. The hope and expectation for the Messiah was compromised.
This came from false teachers, like the kind who we were warned about in the Old Testament text. Those who would proclaim peace where there is no peace, who would not warn God’s people with God’s Word. Who would say that the Temple, the fact that it existed, was license to be ungodly. Men like Caiaphas, who will not let go of his position, and will mislead the people if he has to.
Thus, they have forgotten the true foundation of their city, their temple, and their lives. They have built hope on the expectation of worldly peace, contentment, and comfort.
And so, the Prince of Peace, by His gracious visitation, warns them. But first, He weeps.
He weeps because He loves them, one by one. He weeps because He knows that love will be rejected, one by one. He weeps because He knows the price He will pay for all of them, one by one, even though they will refuse to benefit from it.
But this is what Jesus’ love requires. If a farmer could know what seeds would not grow, if a financial manager could know what stocks would soon be worthless, they would not buy them. But Jesus can, and Jesus does.
This is the love of God. This is the Lord who is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love. This is Jesus, the Christ, the true foundation – rejected.
They don’t know what makes for true peace: cross and nails, scourge and rod. The cross is a stumbling block, an offense, a scandal, and an embarrassment. They won’t have it, and they won’t have him. Thus, their peace is rejected.
And if they won’t have peace, then they will have war. In AD 70, General Titus would lay siege to Jerusalem, and tear it apart. Not one brick would be left standing on another.
This is a historical event that Jesus prophesies, of course; but it is more than that. It is also a picture of the end. That’s what makes this a warning.
Jerusalem rejects Jesus, and seems to get away with it. They will build on the foundation they prefer: a temple turned into a marketplace, rulers who will be puppets for foreign rulers, and a life of declaring peace with heaven while rejecting the peace come down from heaven.
And all seems well for 27 years… and then the bill comes due.
So it is for this world. We live in the age of grace, when a man can stand in the public square, profane God’s name, blaspheme, and even beg for a lightning bolt to strike him down… and by all appearances get away with it.
In these days since His side was pierced, since he was buried and rose again, the world can reject God’s Wisdom, Truth, and Salvation, and appear to be no worse for it. Indeed, the wicked prosper in this world.
Even now, we can put on an outward piety, proclaim peace in heaven, and not receive heaven’s peace. All the while appearing to be Christians. We can embrace distraction during the Divine Service and devotions. We can reject the good works God has prepared for us. We can spend our energy and emotion on that which will be torn down: worldly contentment, comfort, and prosperity. We can do all these things, and still appear quite saintly and pious.
Repent. That false foundation has been torn down. You are baptized. That saving flood has not left one stone upon another.
In you a new temple has been built. Christ is the foundation and cornerstone.
A foundation is to be built upon. Let us amend our ways and our deeds. Let us truly execute justice with one another, having mercy on those in need.
Let us revere God’s commandments. Let us not only be delivered, but live as those who have been delivered.
Let us make use of the gifts of the Spirit, to build up one another, on the Church’s One Foundation.