Christ Covenant Church
Rev. Marq Toombs
7 October 2018
Twentieth Sunday after Pentecost / Ordinary Time

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Sermon:  — Luke 19:10-12, 14,15, 27, 28, 37-44

“The Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”

As they heard these things, [Jesus] proceeded to tell a parable, because he was near to Jerusalem, and because they supposed that the kingdom of God was to appear immediately. He said, therefore, “A nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom and then return…But his citizens hated him and sent a delegation after him, saying, ‘We do not want this man to reign over us.’ When he returned, having received a kingdom…he said to those who stood by…as for these enemies of mine, who did not want me to reign over them, bring them here and slaughter them before me.’” 

And when he had said these things, he went on ahead, going up to Jerusalem. As he was drawing near—already on the way down the Mount of Olives—the whole multitude of his disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen, saying, “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!”And some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples.” He answered, “I tell you, if these were silent, the very stones would cry out.” And when he drew near and saw the city, he wept over it, saying, “Would that you, even you, had known on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. For the days will come upon you, when your enemies will set up a barricade around you and surround you and hem you in on every side and tear you down to the ground, you and your children within you. And they will not leave one stone upon another in you, because you did not know the time of your visitation.” 

The word of the Lord.

Ever since Luke 9 (July 29) Jesus has been resolutely fixed on going up to Jerusalem. Now, as he draws near to his final destination, tension is mounting, reaching the breaking point.

In context, We see both condemnation and salvation come to the least likely people. The ones we expect to be condemned are saved, and the ones we expect to be saved are condemned. The blind see and the seeing are blind.

The Son of Man comes to seek and save the lost!

We hear a parable telling us that a king who was rejected by his own people will come and execute judgment on his enemies and put them to death. This parable foreshadows the ascension of Jesus to a far away place and the destruction of Jerusalem upon his return.

We sense a clash of worldviews between Jesus and the masses. The crowds are cheering about blessing and peace, but Jesus is crying about curses and warfare.

It is in the midst of all this tension and chaos, Jesus looks up and sees Jerusalem, the city of peace — and he is overcome with raw emotion.

This is not the silent internal weeping he did at Lazarus’ tomb — this is a loud external weeping.

Jesus wailed outside the walls of the city.

Why? 

Some say Jesus wept because he loved the city of God, the city of peace. After all, Jerusalem was the gravitational center, the ground zero of his life and ministry.

As he draws near to Jerusalem, a stream of personal memories and experiences washes over him.

When he was just a baby, after he was circumcised and given the sign of the covenant at Bethlehem, his parents brought him to Jerusalem and dedicated him to God at the temple. They made sacrifices for him there to redeem him as the firstborn son.

An elderly man named Simeon held baby Jesus in his arms and prophesied, “Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel; and for a sign which shall be spoken against.”

An elderly woman named Anna saw him and started proclaiming the good news about him to all the people.

After that, Jesus came to Jerusalem with his parents every year for the Passover festival. Every year they offered a lamb for their family and ate the family Passover meal together.

One year, when Jesus was twelve years old, he slipped away from his family. He stayed at the temple and sat in the midst of the teachers both listening to them and asking them questions. Why? From his youth on, he knew his life and mission was to be about his Father’s business.

All this took place in the temple courts at Jerusalem, the city of peace.

Now, fast forward 21 years, and Jesus is going up to Jerusalem again, for the last time.

This is the first time (in Luke’s Gospel) since his childhood that we see him going up to Jerusalem.

As he drew near to Jerusalem a flood of scriptures from the Law and the Prophets overwhelm his heart, mind, soul, and body.

Jerusalem is the place that God chose to put his Name, his temple, his throne. (2 Chron. 6:6)

Jerusalem is the place where God will deal with the sins of the world once for all.

Just a few before going up to Jerusalem, Jesus warned his disciples that they were walking into the storm of all storms:

See, we are going up to Jerusalem, and everything that is written about the Son of Man by the prophets will be accomplished.

For he will be delivered over to the Gentiles and will be mocked and shamefully treated and spit upon. And after flogging him, they will kill him, and on the third day, he will rise.

This is not going to happen according to blind luck, but according to the word of God. Not by happen-chance, but by Providence.

Jesus was shaped by the word of God inside and out. He knew where he was going, why he was going, and what awaited him there — and he went anyways!

Now, more than ever, Jesus is starting to feel the heart-breaking realities of his mission. He feels the heavy-weight of the cross bearing down on his soul.

He is not going up to Jerusalem for pleasure, but punishment and pain.

He is not going up to offer a lamb as for Passover; he is going up to offer himself as the Passover lamb.

He is not going up to offer sacrifices for sins; he is going up to offer himself as the sacrifice to end all sacrifices for sin.

He is not going up to be held up by devout elderly people, but to be handed over by elders and priests.

He is going up to Jerusalem to perish. As he predicted in Luke 13:33-35

I must go on my way…for it cannot be that a prophet should perish away from Jerusalem.

He is going up to Jerusalem to fulfill God’s purpose for his life. After all, he must be about his Father’s business.

For all these reasons he wept and wailed.

But these are not the only reasons.

He wept and wailed for many other reasons.

Earlier in Luke’s Gospel, Jesus had offered up this lament for the city he loved:

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!

Behold, your house is forsaken. (Luke 13:34)

The word forsaken means desolate, abandoned, empty, laid to waste.

Jesus did not mask his heartfelt emotion for Jerusalem.

He did not cry for sentimental reasons.

He did not weep for nostalgia.

He wept for truth and justice — “for  ruin and the world’s end.” (Theoden, LOTR)

Jesus wept like King David in 2 Samuel 15. 

All the land wept aloud as all the people passed by, and the king crossed the brook Kidron, and all the people passed on [out of the city] toward the wilderness…And David went up the ascent of the Mount of Olives, weeping as he went, barefoot and with his head covered. And all the people who were with him covered their heads, and they went up, weeping as they went.

Jesus wept like the Prophet Jeremiah who lamented: 

Oh that my head were waters,
    and my eyes a fountain of tears,
that I might weep day and night
    for the slain of the daughter of my people!
Oh that I had in the desert
    a travelers’ lodging place,
that I might leave my people
    and go away from them!
I will take up weeping and wailing for the mountains,
    and a lamentation for the pastures of the wilderness,
because they are laid waste so that no one passes through. (Jer. 9:1, 2, 10)*
But if you will not listen,
    my soul will weep in secret for your pride;
my eyes will weep bitterly and run down with tears,
    because the Lord‘s flock has been taken captive. (Jer. 13:17)

[*Note: The voices of Jeremiah and Yahweh intermingle in Jeremiah 9 in such an indistinguishable way that one seems to speak for the other.]

Jesus wept like the Priest Ezra — Ezra 10

Who prayed and made confession [in Jerusalem], weeping and casting himself down before the house of God, a very great assembly of men, women, and children, gathered to him out of Israel, for the people wept bitterly...Ezra withdrew from before the house of God…and he spent the night, neither eating bread nor drinking water, for he was mourning over the faithlessness of the exiles.

Like the kings, prophets, and priests who came before him,

Jesus wept over Jerusalem as the true and better king David, 

Jesus wept as the true and better prophet Jeremiah,

Jesus wept as the true and better priest Ezra.

Jesus saw the dark side of Jerusalem and wept because her many sins provoked God and invited him to visit her with terrible horrible judgments. 

Jesus wept over God’s judgment upon her.

Notice that Jesus gives a gut-wrenching description of the distress and total devastation that Jerusalem will suffer when God’s judgment falls upon her.

In the context of Luke’s Gospel, Jesus had commanded parents to let the children and nursing babies come to him, and not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God (Luke 18). But here, Jesus warns disobedient parents that covenant curses will soon fall upon them — and they and their children will be surrounded, hemmed in, and torn down to the ground by fierce enemies.

In Luke 18 Jesus said, “whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.” But here, in Luke 19, Jesus explains what will happen to those who refuse to humble themselves and take his word to heart. 

Jesus was not just waxing poetic for shock value or resorting to scare tactics for effect. Like a covenant prosecutor, he echoed the covenant of blessing and curses and showed that this was a critical life and death situation.

As it is written (in Deuteronomy 28:45, 52-59) —

All these curses shall come upon you and pursue you and overtake you till you are destroyed, because you did not obey the voice of the Lord your God, to keep his commandments and his statutes that he commanded you…They shall besiege you in all your towns, until your high and fortified walls, in which you trusted, come down throughout all your land…And you shall eat the fruit of your womb, the flesh of your sons and daughters, whom the Lord your God has given you, in the siege and in the distress with which your enemies shall distress you…If you are not careful to do all the words of this law that are written in this book, that you may fear this glorious and awesome name, the Lord your God, then the Lord will bring on you and your offspring extraordinary afflictions, afflictions severe and lasting.

This is a gruesome picture of what happened to Jerusalem on more than one occasion. A picture of what was going to happen once again for the last time in (in AD 70).

Remember two sermons back when we heard Jesus warn his followers about the coming of the Son of Man and the end of the world as they knew it? Well, he is just picking up where he left off a couple of weeks ago — talking about the end of the Jewish world — the end Jerusalem and Judea.

For all these reasons Jesus wept and wailed as he drew near to Jerusalem. To be clear: he wept as a man, but he did not weep as a man only.

Remember Jesus is the God-man.

When Jesus wept, he wept as the God-man.

He shed the tears of God and showed by his tears that God grieves over the sinful conditions of the world, and he takes no delight in the death of the wicked.

“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, turn from your evil ways! For why should you die, O house of Israel?” (Ezekiel 33:11)

According to Jesus, the foundational reason for the judgment of Jerusalem was “because you did not know the time of your visitation.”

The word for visitation is episkopē. We get our English word episcopal from it. It refers to the time of God’s gracious supervision, his watching over, and looking out for his people.

In generations past, visitation meant more than having guests coming over and hanging out. A visitation meant someone was coming over and there was going to be an inspection and a resolution, an examination and a solution.  

In the OT, God visited his people in the garden, in Canaan, in Egypt, and in other places, at various times and in various ways, in order to see how they were and what they needed.

But throughout the OT, he promised to visit his people in person, in the flesh.

And he kept his promise when Jesus Christ was conceived in the womb of the Virgin Mary and came into the world, as we have seen in the Gospel of Luke.

In the Song of Zechariah – Luke 1:76-79, the old priest sang over his newborn son John about their common Savior:

because of the tender mercy of our God, 
    whereby the sunrise shall visit us from on high
to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death,
    to guide our feet into the way of peace.

Jesus is the sunrise who visited the dark land with heavenly light!

Later on in Luke’s Gospel, when Jesus raised a widow’s young son from the dead, he gave light to those who sat in darkness and in the shadow of death, and the crowd went wild. Luke tells us that:

Fear seized them all, and they glorified God, saying,

“God has visited his people!”

And this report about him spread through the whole of Judea and all the surrounding country. (Luke 7:16-17)

Sadly, this news was not known (or not received) in Jerusalem.

She did not know the time of her visitation. She was not watching and waiting for the Lord. She was not ready for his coming.

To Jerusalem, Jesus was just an unexpected stranger and unknown visitor.

To Jesus, Jerusalem was an unbelievably hot mess.

He saw her hypocrisy, her spiritual blindness, her nationalistic pride. And he wept.

He saw her ignorance, her unwilling spirit, her violence against the prophets. And he wept.

He saw her racism (against the Gentiles), her apostasy and backsliding, her idolatries. And he wept.

He saw her covenant-breaking, her disobedience, and her unfaithfulness. And he wept.

Everything about Jerusalem screamed: We do not want this man to reign over us.

As a result, they got what they wanted. Jesus honored their request, but not as they wished or expected.

With tears in his eyes, Jesus made it clear that his enemies would forfeit their lives and be put to death by his authority in his presence.

All who revolt and rebel against his reign will be cut down and cast off. This was to happen — and did happen — when the Son of Man came on the clouds to judge the city in 70 AD.

This same kind of thing will happen again, to our city, state, nation — to our world — when Jesus comes to judge the living and the dead.

Do you want this man to be king over you? Do we want Jesus to reign over us?

What shall we say? How shall we live?

Psalm 2 tells us what to do:

Now, therefore, O kings, be wise;
    be warned, O rulers of the earth.
Serve the Lord with fear,
    and rejoice with trembling.
Kiss the Son,
    lest he be angry, and you perish in the way,
    for his wrath is quickly kindled.
Blessed are all who take refuge in him.

Let us test and examine our ways,
    and return to the Lord!
Let us lift up our hearts and hands
    to God in heaven:

Pastoral Prayer

O Lord,
Remember our affliction and our wanderings,

    the wormwood and the gall!
Our soul continually remembers it
    and is bowed down within us.
But this we call to mind,
    and therefore we have hope:

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
    his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
    great is your faithfulness.
“The Lord is my portion,” says my soul,
    “therefore I will hope in him.”

The Lord is good to those who wait for him,
    to the soul who seeks him.
It is good that one should wait quietly
    for the salvation of the Lord.
It is good for a man that he bear
    the yoke in his youth.

Let him sit alone in silence
    when it is laid on him;
let him put his mouth in the dust—
    there may yet be hope;
let him give his cheek to the one who strikes,
    and let him be filled with insults.

For the Lord will not
    cast off forever,
but, though he cause grief, he will have compassion
    according to the abundance of his steadfast love;
for he does not afflict from his heart
    or grieve the children of men.