Saturday, March 16, 2019

Lent 2

17 March 2019

Luke 13:31–35
The yearning, wooing, longing pleading heart of God

Almighty and most merciful God, in this earthly life we endure sufferings and death before we enter into eternal glory. Grant us grace at all times to subject ourselves to Your holy will and to continue steadfast in the true faith to the end of our lives that we may know the peace and joy of the blessed hope of the resurrection of the dead and of the glory of the world to come; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.[1]
As you approach a city. Say for example, Chicago. You can observe the glow of the city by night more than thirty miles away. If you approach that city by day. The skyscrapers are visible. Also at a great distance. The same is true when you are traveling through mountains. The peaks of the mountain are seen from a distance miles before you get there. Many a general in times of war has gazed over a city before it is taken in battle. What emotions have you experienced as you approach such sights?
Just prior to the events of the last week of His life; events, which resulted in His death, Jesus stood looking over the city of God, that holy city -Jerusalem. Notice how quickly Jesus turns to lament: “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it!”  “The city that has lost its way.  The city that rejected Me. The city that has abandoned itself.”  You can hear Jesus’ pain.  

Jesus was moved to tears as He as He looked over Jerusalem. For He knew that it was there that he would be betrayed, arrested, charged, condemned and killed. By these words of Jesus, choked and mixed with tears, we find the yearning, wooing, longing pleading heart of God.

1. Jesus cried, “How often” –V.34   Consider His anguish. The story, from Noah to Jesus is a message of God’s patience, His grace. Time and again, the people reveled and rejected the Lord of life. As for Noah, the world had gotten so corrupt that it was about the die from within.

Having once destroyed the world by a flood the Lord waited patiently. Sending one prophet after the other. Who spoke to the people saying, “Repent and be saved!” “Turn back to Me and live!” Yet the message of the prophets was too much for the people to hear. Their message was too hard. So they killed the prophets and stoned those the Father sent. “How often!” Jesus cried, had the Father sent them only to have His message fall on deaf ears?

2. “Gathered – V.35 The Father sent those prophets so that He could gather for Himself a holy and righteous people. Jesus says, “How often I longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wing.”  Love gather, unites, solidifies, and reconciles. That was the intention, which the Father had for this world. He sent His son to reconcile the world to Himself. To bring man back to God.

What is the purpose priority of church today? Is it a gymnasium? Where we develop our spiritual muscles? Where work at becoming…better than others. The Lord calls us to be faithful. This does not mean living an improved better life. Being faithful is more than Good Thoughts, Good Words, Good Deeds.[2] 

We are fallen creatures. Poor, miserable sinners. We find ourselves living outside of Eden. Being faithful is simply trusting, believing, and clinging to all of the Father’s promises.  

Might I suggest we are rather a hospice? Offering comfort and aid and healing for hurting and troubled souls. By our very name “Friedheim” are we not a secure home, a sheltered harbor where the Lord’s peace is expressed.

What is the purpose of the church today? Its purpose is to bring people back to God. To be a safe-haven. For people to find reconciliation and peace with a forgiving and loving Father. The Father calls; “come back to Me.” That is the message of the church. – Come back! Come back to God. Return; receive God’s mercy and forgiveness.

3. What moved Jesus to tears? Hear His cry, “And you would not!” –V.34 Such is the tragic rebellion and opposition of man to God.

In spite of ten plagues and the pleadings by Moses and Aaron Pharaoh would not let God’s people go. In spite of all the Father’s urging Jesus ultimately was crucified and killed.  

4. The result of that rejection is clear. Jerusalem would be forsaken. – V.35 Jesus says, “Look, your house is left to you desolate.” Such is the awful consequence of rejecting the Christ of God. You are simply left to your own devises. Left to do what one wants; to look after oneself, without any help from another. That is autonomy. That is unmitigated independence. It can also lead to a death-sentence.

What do these words of the Savior say to us today? The Savior in mercy has looked at you with love and concern. In response to the Savior’s mercy and grace, we serve our neighbor with compassion. For what is grace? Receiving what we do not deserve. What is mercy? Not receiving what we deserve.

Jesus tenderly called, then. He still calls today – to the whole world. To the people of the United States. To the state of Indiana. To Decatur. And to us. He tenderly calls to the young and old, to those of every generation and to the multitudes. He tenderly calls us to repentance, to faith and to Himself – the narrow door, the narrow way!

Come to Him and pray. Invite and bring with your friends, neighbors, co-workers, classmates and any other from “east and west, north and south” seeking to enter the kingdom of God.

The Savior is tenderly calling! This season of Lent calls for us to return. Today know that Christ has suffered for you. “Come back to Me!” the Savior speaks. Return to Him.  Receive His pardon. He has promise to cleans and relieve you of the guilt of your sin.

Words –1,055
Passive Sentences –6%
Reading Level-4.5

[1] A Prayer in times of affliction and distress Lutheran Service Book © 2006 Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis
[2] Zoroastrianism is still alive and well in this diverse American culture.
Schnorr von Carolsfeld, woodcuts © WELS Permission to use these copyrighted items is limited to personal and congregational use.

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