Worship at 9 am
10:15 am Sunday School
Pastor Glenn Zimbelman
|Evangelical Lutheran Church in America|
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God's Passion for God's People - April 9, 2017
Picture of a Plymouth Fury
All the way back in 2012 there was a gas shortage and fuel prices rose dramatically. There was this movement on conservation. Someone launched an idea about what would Jesus drive? When we ask a question, What would Jesus do? It is good to ask it, but frankly I think Jesus would actually do the unexpected. So why would Jesus drive a Plymouth Fury. Well it says so in the Bible.
"God drove Adam and Eve out of the Garden of Eden in a Fury."
I have been praying about his all week and my prayer was try to get into the mind and heart of Jesus. This is not to imagine if he would even drive a car, but rather, what was his mindset as he approaches Jerusalem one week before the cross.
So what can we say about Jesus? We read the following in Luke 19:41-42
“As he came near and saw the city, he wept over it, saying, “If you, even you, had only recognized on this day the things that make for Peace. But now they are hidden from your eyes”
Jesus weeps three times in the Bible. He weeps for Lazarus who has died. He weeps in today’s lesson and he also weeps at the Garden of Gethsemane, with tears like drops of blood. But why the weeping specifically for Jerusalem. If you had only recognized on this day the things that make for Peace.
Picture of the Family Dining Table
Many people have read the Old Testament as a love story. God wishing, desiring, hoping to be in relationship with humanity. Consider the idea that God and Humanity is a family. Perhaps this is why the Lord’s Prayer begins with the words, Our Father who art in heaven. Now Imagine in this family, Father God wants the best in the world for God’s children. Like any parent God wants to protect and keep the family Safe. We have the image of Jesus as the Good Shepherd, guarding and keeping the flock safe. Imagine that God wants the best for us. God wants us to have a sense of purpose, peace, love, joy and to be filled with hope. God wants God’s family to be together. Isn’t that one of our most cherished moments at Christmas or Easter, when your entire family can sit around a meal together? Raise your hand if you cherish those moments?
Now imagine that Jerusalem represents the fragile relationship between God and Humanity. God wants us to come around and be connected at the Table. Sometimes we do that. Yet too often we do the opposite. We, meaning humanity, make golden calves and worship idols of all kinds. We focus on ourselves at the expense of our neighbor. Too often we do as the Old Testament declares, you honor me with your lips but your hearts are far from me.
If you reflect as a parent you hope that your children will make wise choices and healthy choices for their lives. We want to not only protect our children but we want our children to thrive and to have the best life possible. I know some of you struggle out there right now with wayward children. Too many of us have prodigal sons and daughters. So imagine than Jesus has the anguish, the desire, the heartache for all humanity. Jerusalem represents that heartache. This is why he cries. Jerusalem is supposed to be the place where God dwells, in God’s Holy Temple. Instead it is the place where prophets from God are killed.
So Jesus enters the Holy City knowing full well what is going to happen. His great love for humanity is going to direct him to the cross. We need to take a brief step back where this journey all starts. It starts with the birth of a baby.
Picture of Christmas
I bet this picture surprises you. You have heard of Christmas in July, well this morning I would like you to think about what it means to have Christmas in April. I am not talking about presents and Santa Claus here. I am talking about the point of Christmas in the first place. For Christmas is God coming to this earth. We drop in and have a visit with our next door neighbor. God is dropping in and having a visit with us. What does this have to do with Palm Sunday? Why everything?
Way back in Luke 1:78, Zecharriah, John the Baptist’s father makes a prophecy. He declares,
“By the tender mercy of our God, the dawn from on high will break upon us”
The dawn from on high will break upon us. God is coming. The visit is about to happen. Consider the song of angels to the Shepherds,
“Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favors”
There is that word peace again. So angels speak of praising God and they speak of peace. Consider then the words in today’s lesson in Luke 19:38
“Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord. Peace in heaven and glory in the highest heaven.”
I know this makes me look rather smart but I thank that podcast from Luther Seminary’s website, Working Preacher for this connection. God is coming. God is making a visitation. Jesus deserves to be honored as King! He deserves all the praise and glory we can give. For God is coming to bring Peace. Yet the anguish of God comes out in at the end of verse 19:44
“because you did not recognize the time of your visitation from God”
Now I don’t often criticize Christian churches. But there are many Christian churches that go from Palm Sunday right to Easter. There is no Maundy Thursday, and little mention of Good Friday. This coming week is called the week of Passion. Sometimes churches will read the whole story today and call it Passion Sunday. Passion is from the latin which means Suffering. This is its first use. But it can of course represent desire and hope. So Jesus is coming into the Holy City, out of a great passion, a great desire to connect with all humanity. He wants Peace between God and Humanity. That desire is going to cost him dearly. All the sins of the world, past, present and future will be upon him. He does it simply because one definition of God as describes in 1st John, is that God is love. Since God is love, God wants the best for the world. This is why John 3:16 is the most favored passage in the Bible. It is this love that propels Jesus to the cross.
So we have a challenge this morning. Not seeing is one of the themes of Luke. The disciples are told 3 times about the cross and they don’t get it. Jesus walks with two disciples on the road to Emmaus and at first they don’t see Jesus. The blind see, and those who can see are blind. So what about us? Can we grasp and perhaps see a little more clearly the nature of this visitation. Or is Christ going to walk among us as we briefly shout Hosannah and then we get on with our lives.
I have no idea if the same crowd who shouted Hosannah also shouts Crucify Him. I do know that most people just kept silent. But the good news is that we can shout Hosannah because we know the story. Jesus comes to visit us as baby and will die as man so that peace can come into our hearts and into our world. Amen.
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