Trinity Ten Sermon 2005
ďThe Tears and Anger of our God and BrotherĒ
When God became a man and joined
us where we live He did not cease to be God.
He did not change. God
is unchangeable. From the
eternal past to the eternal future God is God.
The name by which He chose to identify Himself to Moses says as
much: ďI am who I am.Ē
Human beings are fickle and
confidently make promises that they promptly break when their promise
begins to exact a cost. They
are easily misled by fear, greed, lust, and covetousness.
Not so with God. With
God there is no variation. What
He says yesterday He will say tomorrow.
We can rely on Him not to change His mind.
When God became a man the human
race was able to see God as never before.
And while we may not attribute our fickle human emotions to God,
it is an undeniable fact that God became a man and as a man He
experienced the emotions common to humanity.
Yet there is a very important difference.
Our emotions can mislead us into sin.
They often take control of us.
But God cannot be controlled by emotions.
He expresses what He is by nature and He is good.
His emotions express the very opposite of sin.
They express pure love, the purest of love.
In our Gospel Lesson for this
morning we see two emotions coming from Jesus.
We see Jesus crying in deep sorrow.
Then we see him angry. Jesus
wept. He looked saw the
holy city He had chosen and loved and He looked ahead to see her coming
destruction and what He saw led Him to tears. Jesus
displayed anger. He went
into the temple and became angry with those who bought and sold there.
He physically drove them out of the temple.
Jesus displayed two different emotions.
But in fact they were the same.
The tears He shed over Jerusalem and the anger He expressed over
the desecration of the temple had the same source: His deep and abiding
love for His people.
Itís a tragic love story.
God loved Israel. The
Creator of heaven and earth chose the children of Abraham, Isaac, and
Jacob out of all the nations of the world.
Why? God knows.
Out of unfathomable grace He chose Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob
whose name was changed to Israel after he wrestled with God. He chose the children of Israel.
Out of that nation the Savior of the world would come.
Why Israel? It was
by divine grace. There is
no ďwhyĒ beyond the love of God.
Godís grace cannot be understood by human standards of fairness
or justice. God shows mercy
as He chooses. He is not
bound by any human claim. He
binds Himself to His promise and He keeps His promise.
It doesnít always appear to us
that He will keep His promise. He
promised Abraham that He would bless all the nations of the world
through Isaacís seed. Then
He commanded Abraham to sacrifice Isaac on Mt. Moriah.
Apparent conflicts often arise and challenge the faith of those
whom God has chosen. But
they hold on in stubborn faith to what He promises.
Within Israel there was always a remnant Ė a small minority Ė
that believed in the divine promise.
Through their faith they were saved.
The faith of ancient Israel was
in a Savior who would come into the world to redeem His people from
their sins. By the time Jesus came most has abandoned the true faith and
looked instead for a political deliverer, believing that political
freedom is more important than spiritual freedom.
Like people today they were more concerned about the bad people
out there than they were with the sin in their own heart. But the true Israelites did not look for political salvation.
Like Anna the prophetess who spent day and night in the temple
waiting there for her Redeemer, they humbly waited for a Savior who
would wash away their sins, destroy the power of sin and death, and
bring everlasting life. They
knew the Savior would suffer for them. They knew the Savior would take away sin by His suffering.
This was the faith of the faithful from faithful Abel who offered
to God the first and the best of his flock to God to faithful Abraham
who offered a ram on Mt. Moriah instead of his son.
Everything in the worship life of ancient Israel was designed to
prepare them for the coming of the Savior, from the regulations
regarding bloody sacrifices down to the last detail about the worship in
the temple. The temple
symbolized Godís gracious presence.
Its outward beauty was only a dim reflection of the beauty of
Godís grace promised in their Savior.
Then when their Savior came only
a small portion of Israel received Him in faith.
The leaders of Israel rejected
their Savior. The nation as
a nation did not recognize her Savior when He came.
The glory of Israel was Jerusalem.
The glory of Jerusalem was the temple.
The glory of the temple was Christ.
But when Christ came Israel refused Him.
That refusal could have only one possible result.
The temple, Jerusalem, and the nation of Israel would be
They rejected a religion of
repentance in favor of a religion of vengeance.
The religion of repentance sees our biggest problem as the sin
within our hearts from which we cannot set ourselves free.
The religion of vengeance sees our biggest problem as the
injustice of the system, or the unfairness of life, or some other sin on
the part of others. Those
who embrace the religion of repentance hunger and thirst for
righteousness because they know they donít measure up to the righteous
standards of Godís holy law. God
satisfies their hunger by graciously forgiving them their sins for
Christís sake and imputing to them Christís righteousness instead of
their own sin. Those who
embrace the religion of vengeance want God to punish those that plague
them. For Israel of Jesusí day it was the Romans.
They wanted a Savior from political oppression.
They rejected the Savior who offered them deliverance from sin,
death, and the power of the devil.
Their day came.
But, as Jesus said, they did not know the time of their
visitation. They did not
know what made for peace. They
didnít recognize the Prince of Peace that God had promised through
Isaiah. They did not know
the time of their visitation. Their
Savior visited them and they didnít want what He had to give.
They didnít want repentance but vengeance.
And thatís what they got!
The full fury of the Roman armies went up against them and after
a six month siege by the Roman General Titus, in 70AD, after having been
decimated by disease and starvation to the point of cannibalism, the
holy city was utterly destroyed in fulfillment of Jesusí prophesy.
Jesus saw it coming and wept tears for the people He loved.
Jesus didnít come into this world to judge the world, but to
save it. He came to His own
people to bring her the fulfillment of her hope, but she didnít want
what He came to give.
Jesus referred to the temple as
Godís house of prayer. The
temple is where God met His people.
But God doesnít meet us in the buying and selling of things.
He meets us in the giving of the innocent life of Jesus into
death to take away our sin. Godís
reign is not to be found in any political or military victory of this
world. Godís wealth is
not to be found in the prosperity gospel hawked by todayís religious
entrepreneurs who con the gullible to embrace the promise of material
wealth in the name of Jesus. Godís
reign is where Christ rules over us by sending His Holy Spirit into our
hearts to establish in us a living faith. This faith looks to Christ lifted up on the cross for us and
rests secure in the knowledge that for His sake our sins are forgiven
and eternal life is ours. This
faith lives on every word that proceeds from the mouth of God. Godís wealth is what God gives us in His Holy Word.
When you have the privilege of praying to God through faith in
Christ you are rich. You
donít need to own wealth when you know the One who does and you know
Him as your dear Father.
God is not a man that He should
cry, but when God became a man He did cry.
God takes no pleasure in punishing sinners.
Whenever we pray we pray to God through Jesus.
His body is the temple, our meeting place with God.
We pray as we struggle in understanding Godís will for us.
When we seek to understand Godís will we should remember where
Jesus went and what Jesus did after He struggled in prayer and said,
ďThy will be done.Ē He
went to the cross. He bore
our sin. He made peace
between God and us and the temple curtain was torn in two to prove that
peace was made.
God destroyed the holy temple,
the holy city, and the holy nation.
But thatís not quite true.
He destroyed the temple made with hands, but the true temple
remains forever. Christís
vicarious suffering and death remains where we meet our God with
confidence that He is our gracious Father.
He destroyed the earthly Jerusalem, but the true Jerusalem is
right here among us where the Word of God is proclaimed from the
spiritual Zion, that is, Christís Church here on earth.
He destroyed the nation of Israel, but the Holy Christian Church
remains Godís Israel in this world.
Godís Israel is today being gathered from the ends of the
earth, from all tribes, nations, peoples, and languages.
No power on earth can overcome her.
It is good for us to see our God
and brother cry. It is very
instructive for us. Jesus
did not rail against them. He
did not scream threats of divine retribution.
He cried. Thatís
because He loved them. And
he loves every single unregenerate heathen in the world today.
He loves the drunkard and the fornicator, the liar and the thief,
the abortionist and the terrorist.
He does not want anyone to perish.
He wants everyone come to repentance and live.
So we preach Christ crucified.
We invite sinners to repentance.
If God destroyed the holy city He loved and honored, He will
surely destroy every proud people in this world.
But for the sake of His dear Son, and His holy suffering for the
sins of the world, He will receive as His own children those who take
refuge in Him. And the
angels in heaven rejoice whenever they do.
Rev. Rolf D. Preus