Crying Over Sin

Due to a busy week with the Higher Things Youth Trip, this sermon is indebted to Rev. William Weedon and Rev. Joshua Reimche.

Text: Luke 19:41-48

In the name of Jesus: Amen.

It is a fact that we do not hear much anymore about the wrath of God – those fire and brimstone sermons.  But rather, we hear an abundance of sermons about God’s love and tolerance and acceptances – mushy sermons decorated with sweet talk.  The reason why?  Some Christians cannot figure out how to reconcile their understanding of the God who “so loved the world that he gave His only-begotten Son” with the existence of the fires of hell. 

As a result, many Christians end up being closet universalists – assuming that in the end a God of love will send no one to hell and everyone to heaven regardless of their beliefs. 

And the old Adam – that is our sinful nature – inside each of us would love to believe this a true.  The reason why?  If everyone goes to heaven, then there is no need to bother with God’s call to repentance.  If everyone goes to heaven we can simply and safely ignore the Lord’s warnings to those who persist in sin.

But, of course, if we listen to God’s voice in the Scriptures, that is not an option.  The scriptures reveal a God who is patient, loving, and merciful – all in degrees beyond our comprehension.  And yet a God who finally does not overlook continual rebellion, who will, in the end, punish and destroy – but a God who punishes and destroys with tears in His eyes.

In this morning’s Gospel reading we read, “And as He drew near and saw the city, He wept over it.”  Why did the Lord Jesus cry?  Because He who is God in our flesh does not take a sick delight in hurting, in judging, or in destroying.  He did not create us for that, He did not come into our flesh for that.   And so He weeps when we leave Him no choice but to do what He does not want to do, but still must do.

You heard God’s great sadness in the first reading.  Jeremiah was speaking to Israel.  They had rebelled countless times against the Lord and they thought that they could keep on rebelling and yet God would keep them safe from their enemies.

Their prophets told them:  “Peace!  Peace!”  In other words, “Don’t worry!  God will never let anything happen to His holy city where his temple is.”

Therefore, Jeremiah was sent to shatter that illusion, to prepare the people for what will come.  He tells them that merely knowing the Law, but never bothering to repent of the times where it is broken; merely possessing the Word of God, but never bothering to listen to it, will not keep them safe; it will land them in destruction. 

And so the Lord gave His nation and His city into the hands of the Babylonians, so that Israel - what was left of it - would learn that rebellion against the Lord is no joking matter, nothing to be taken lightly.  His patience is great – far beyond our patience - but it has an end.

And then in the Gospel lesson it was deja-vu.  Jesus is riding into Jerusalem in order to take the hit for Israel and for all people.

Jesus is coming to His cross and saying to His Father – pour it on me, all your righteous wrath for all their rebellions, for all the times they heard your Word and despised and ignored it without any care or concern for the consequence – pour Your wrath out on me.  I will bear it for them. 

I will answer for their treason so that they may receive through me the pardon and remission of their sins, so that they may not perish but have the eternal life which is our joy and delight. 

And yet He bursts into tears, because He knows what will happen.  He knows that even after He has borne hell and felt the full fury of righteous wrath against all human pride and rebellion, so many in His city will turn their nose up at His sacrifice.  They will say:  “No thank you.  I don’t need You or anything You are offering or doing.  I can do it on my own.”

And so our Jesus cries.  He cries for Jerusalem, but not only for Jerusalem.  He cries for us too, for all the times when we choose to ignore God’s will and insist on going our own way.

He cries for all the times when we take His sacrifice for granted and continue in our disobedience and rebellion.  For all the times we say to ourselves:  “Well, I’m baptized and I’ve taken communion, so God will forgive me while I go on doing my own will without regard for his commands.”

Jesus cries for all the times we delude ourselves into thinking that we’ve done enough and been good enough to pass muster on our own before the Judgment seat.  He cries for all of that when He cries for Jerusalem, because He does not want us to experience where that leads – to the loss everything He died to win for us and lives to give us.

There is then, in his tears, a pleading.  A pleading for us to embrace a life of repentance.  A pleading for us to cry with him over all that our sins and rebellions have cost Him.  A pleading for us to fall before him and pray:  “Lord Jesus, Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner!”

Because when we do, then there are tears of another sort.  Tears of joy in His eyes and in the eyes of our heavenly Father, in the eyes of the angel armies, tears of joy as we are welcomed home like long-lost children.

Because that is what our Lord longs for, that is what He came and bled and died for, that is what He rose from the dead for: to welcome home each repentant soul and unite you to Himself in an embrace of love so strong that we will share His life forever.

And when we celebrate it (that is what the Supper is truly about), it is not a feast for those who are content to live in rebellion against God’s commands.  It is a feast spread for those who ache over how they have failed God and who desire His forgiveness and strength to do better.

That is what He gives you in His Word and Sacraments.  He unites Himself to you so that His forgiveness covers your sin and He “strengthens your faith in Him and your fervent love for one another” as the prayer after communion has it. 

He is a God of patience, but not patience without end.  He waits now for our repentance and when we live in daily repentance and faith, it is His joy to grant us forgiveness, life, and salvation. 

“For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through Him”.

In the name of Jesus: Amen.

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