Grace, mercy and peace be unto you from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior X Jesus Christ. AMEN! Our text for this morning’s sermon is taken from St. Luke’s gospel account the 13th (Luke 13:31-35)chapter.
Beloved in the Lord,
Pharisees seek Jesus’ departure
The path is set and Jesus is walking it. The passion is begun. Jesus is going to Jerusalem for you and me and for the world. What was discussed with immortals at His transfiguration looms ahead as He marches south. His face is set like a flint. His eyes are fixed. His heart is bound. His soul is willing. His feet take each stride with confidence. His hands are outstretched towards His neighbors. His voice is cast along the pathway, like seed strewn on the dust of the earth.
Remember, man is dust and to dust he shall return. But here is Jesus planting His Word in the dust, the very hearts of men, women and yes even the children, even the infants. For there is no one outside of the love of God in Christ. Yes, here is Jesus redeeming what was stolen away, healing what was injured, warming what sin has turned frigid.
But not everyone is leaping for joy. The establishment is troubled. The scribes are concerned. The Herodians are plotting His death. And the Pharisees are ever trying His patience. It is the Pharisees we hear this morning in our text, feigning their false considerations for Jesus. “Depart from here, Jesus for Herod wants to Kill you.” Ever the pious ones, these Pharisees cloak their rejection of the Messiah, the Son of the Living God, in their concern for his life. “Oh, yes Jesus we wouldn’t want anything to happen to you. You’re a great teacher, a prophet maybe. You should go another way, in another direction. Work your works and speak your Words over there away from Jerusalem and therefore also away from us.”
Pushing Jesus Away – not willing (Men loved the darkness)
In these Pharisees we see and hear a bit of ourselves. They push Jesus away from His destiny not out of concern for Jesus, but out of concern for themselves. Sinful man is always concerned about himself before others, always his own life before the Word. And Jesus and His Word are in separable. You can’t have one without the other. There’s no wordless Jesus and no Jesus less Word. The Pharisees are rejecting both because they love their own righteousness more than the righteousness that comes as a gift through faith in the Word of Jesus.
But man’s righteousness isn’t very righteous. St. Paul calls is dung. We much prefer to call is piety. Dung has such negative connotations. Piety sounds good, pious, and righteous. Jesus’ Word however shines the Light on our piety, righteousness and good works. In light of God’s Law we’re not so good, righteous or pious. In fact, the Light shines on the darkness of our hearts and we would much rather not look or listen.
The Word calls us out. It shows our sin. It reveals the depths of our hearts. The Pharisees heard Jesus and were beginning to catch on. They heard the Law. And the Law kills. Dark hearts like ours, hearts darkened with sin and death – sin and death that we don’t want to talk about but would much rather hide – don’t appreciate such words, because these Words strike at our sin and name them. Sins like, adultery, fornication, holding grudges, lying, stealing, hating, deceiving, murder, lust, coveting, these all fill our hearts. And so we try to cover them, hide them, hide from them. We try to justify them as though we had no choice, as though it was actually someone else’s fault or even God’s fault.
Yet all our hiding, cloaking, covering, deceiving, and pushing away only makes things worse. Without Jesus we are lost. Without the Word of life we are dead, dead in our sins and trespasses. And a dead heart can’t be reformed or worked up, worked over, taken to another level of piety. A dead heart can’t be energized by our feigning piety, it can’t be quickened by scratching itching ears. It can’t be comforted by soothing lies. A dead heart must be resurrected, regenerated, renewed and redeemed from the darkness of sin, death, and the delusions of the human heart. Turning Jesus away, ignoring His Words, and clinging to your own life will only give you death – and eternal death if you don’t repent and believe the Gospel
Prophets Perish in Jerusalem
Thus Jesus will not be deterred. He will not be distracted. He will not sidestep the cross and the work He has come to do simply because these Pharisees think they don’t need Him. Jesus very plainly says, “It is necessary . . . because it is not permissible that a prophet perish outside of Jerusalem.” These things are necessary. Necessary for what? It is necessary for your salvation.
Our sinful selves prefer the optional instead of the necessary. When things are optional we are in control. But when we are in control the path we walk leads away from heaven. There is no option for Jesus. And Jesus is in control even when it seems He’s not. Jesus is always in control, always working, always seeking out ways to speak His Word and cast the seed upon the dust of the earth, even the hearts of men, women and children.
Thus because it is necessary for your salvation Jesus moves towards Jerusalem. There the necessities of salvation will be pinned on Him.
For it is necessary that prophets perish in Jerusalem.
It is necessary that the scribes and elders reject Jesus.
It is necessary that He be condemned.
It is necessary that He be lashed.
It is necessary that He be striped.
It is necessary that He be beaten, whipped, and spit upon.
It is necessary that He be stripped naked to cover your shame.
It is necessary that He be broken to bring you healing.
It is necessary that His blood be shed for your immortality.
It is necessary that He be pierced through, speared, and crowned with thorns.
It is necessary that He hang on the tree as your curse, that He suffer and die in your place, that He be buried in your grave. And it is necessary that He rise from the dead on the third day. These are the necessities of your salvation, for this is what your sin deserves and this is what His will works. This is what your heart warrants and what His Heart embraces. This is the darkness of death made manifest to the cosmos and the glory of the resurrection stepping forth on Easter! God in the flesh dies and rises again so that man may live forever through the forgiveness of sins.
Pressing on – The Will of Jesus
Yes, beloved Jesus will not be deterred or distracted but will press on today, tomorrow and on the third day bring it to completion. He is the master of demons, diseases and destiny. This is His will for the Pharisees, all of Jerusalem and also for you, me, and the whole world. There is not a one person whom Jesus doesn’t love and desire to be saved.
Therefore, though the cross has come and gone, the Word of the Cross presses on. The seed is still strewn on the dust of the earth. His Word brings life and immortality to light. Do not be like the Pharisees who cloaked their rejection under a pious guise. Do not be like Jerusalem who chose Caesar as their king. Do not be like the scribes or the Herodians despising the light of the gospel. But remember who you are – dust. And into your hearts Christ has placed His holy Word. This Word does what it says, quickens the heart and delivers from sin death and devil. This Word gives Jesus and Jesus has overcome your sin, destroyed your death, and placed His Easter into the depths of your heart.
All who believe and receive His baptism have been united to Christ, have been crucified with Christ and raised with Christ. Thus called out of the darkness, out of our sin, we are called into the marvelous light of the gospel. We are called to Christ who is savior and redeemer. All that we need, all that is necessary is given to us as we listen to the Word, believe the Word, receive the Word, read, learn, mark and inwardly digest the Word. With the Word comes the Son. With the Son comes the Word. There is no wordless Jesus nor a Jesus less Word. You cannot have one without the other, and frankly why would you want one without the other, unless you want to hide your sin.
“Blessed is He who Comes in the Name of the Lord”
Beloved in the Lord, where the Pharisees were seeking to push Jesus away, we Christians welcome the savior with faithful hearts. He comes into our midst to deliver us the necessities of our salvation. He shines the light of His gospel into the depths of our being and with razor sharp precision slices through bone and sinew to the very heart in order to wash us, forgive us, and save us. Thus we Christians hear the Savior’s Word as He invites us to sup with Him. This is what Jesus does. He sups with sinners, tax collectors, and people like us. He’s not ashamed to be near us. Being near us He can save us through His body and His blood – which exactly what He gives us under bread and wine. Indeed, “Blessed is He who comes in the Name of the Lord.” He comes to save. AMEN!
The peace of God which surpasses all understanding keep your heart and minds through faith in Christ Jesus. AMEN!