In Nomine Iesu!
In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.
Prayer in Pulpit before Sermon:
Merciful God, Heavenly Father, we heartily beseech Thee, Thou wouldst so govern us by Thy Holy Spirit that we may not neglect the time of Thy gracious visitation, nor by impenitence fall into temporal and eternal punishment, but in this our day lay hold on the things that make for salvation and everlasting peace; through Jesus Christ, Thy Son, our Lord, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Ghost, ever One God, world without end. Amen.
Grace, mercy, and peace be to you from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior + Jesus Christ. Amen.
Our Lord + Jesus, the Christ, once again enters into the temple of the Lord God. He first entered it when He was forty days old. His mother Mary was there for her purification, and to present Him with offerings of sacrifice to the Lord God. Our Lord also entered the temple at the beginning of His ministry, which the Apostle and Evangelist St. John relates, when seeing the moneychangers defiling the temple, He chased them out with a whip. Now, three years later, the moneychangers have returned, and it is business as usual in the temple (pun intended). Once again, our Lord + Jesus has to drive out the moneychangers from the temple. Once again, He has to cleanse the temple of the filth that had corrupted it. This is how our Lord and Savior, + Jesus Christ begins His final week before offering up His own life as a ransom for the sins of the whole world; so that all those who believe on Him might have everlasting life.
What we see from this return of the moneychangers back into the temple after our Lord had driven them out three years ago is the total disregard for the house of the Lord God. It shows us the heart of the people of Israel toward the Lord God, especially those who were in charge of running the temple. They should have been more zealous for the Lord than the exchanging of possessions for money. This scene also connects us with the beginning of the Gospel pericope where the Evangelist St. Luke tells us that our Lord + Jesus was weeping over Jerusalem as He entered into this city. The city of peace, which is what Jerusalem means, was not aware of the things that made for their own peace.
Two things to note about this weeping of our Lord + Jesus as He enters the city. First, He is weeping as He enters the city to the shouts of “Hosanna to the Son of David!” and “Blessed is He Who comes in the Name of the Lord!” which were shouted with joy at His entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday. What that means is that while the crowds are joyous that the One Who they believed to be the Messiah was entering the city of Jerusalem, our Lord + Jesus was weeping over the city. That brings us to the second thing to note about our Lord’s weeping over Jerusalem. The Greek word implies that these were not silent tears. It was not like the old environmentalist commercials where the Native American had a tear running down his face over all the abuses to nature. No, the Greek word literally means “to bewail.” Our Lord + Jesus was sobbing openly. That is how much it pained Him to see the destruction of Jerusalem. This is how much it pained Him to see their unbelief; to see their rebellion; their rejection of the means of their peace.
He was the means of their peace. He is the means of our peace. Peace comes from knowing that our sins are forgiven. True peace involves knowing that we are reconciled to the Lord God; that He is no longer angry with us over our sins and transgressions. When we sin, we have the great gift of confession, both private confession with the pastor and the confessions that we can make to the Lord God whenever we realize our sin, and feel sorry for that sin, and confess our sin, believing that our Lord God will forgive our sin. Not because our confession is so great and wonderful, but we trust solely in the works and merits of the Christ. We know that we have forgiveness from the Lord God—we know that we are reconciled to the Lord God and therefore have peace with the Lord God—on account of the sacrifice that our Lord + Jesus made on the tree of the holy cross for us poor, miserable sinners.
And when we have doubts about our forgiveness—because salvation left up to us, even when we make faith the object of our faith, always leads to doubts—we can then turn to the means by which the Lord God strengthens and confirms our faith: the blessed sacraments. We can turn to our Holy Baptism and say to ourselves that the Lord God has washed me clean of all my sins, by washing me in the blood of the Lamb of God which was shed on the tree of the holy cross. We can also turn to our Lord’s Body and Blood, given in bread and wine, which He shed on the tree of the holy cross for our forgiveness. We have forgiveness, because we believe that when we eat this bread and drink this cup, our Lord forgives us our sins on account of what He did. He believe we have forgiveness of our sins, not because of something we did—not because of some price we paid, or offering we made—but because of the one and only sacrifice of our Lord + Jesus on the tree of the holy cross for us and all mankind.
When we claim a portion of salvation and forgiveness for ourselves through our works, or when we make faith the object of our faith, we are taking salvation out of the hands of our Lord + Jesus. We are really no different than the moneychangers in the Gospel reading from St. Luke. This is why our Lord + Jesus was weeping over Jerusalem. They were not aware of what made for their peace; for their forgiveness. They turned the means that were there to supply forgiveness of sins into something a person could buy with the right amount of money; with the right sacrifice. They made the sacrifices into something they did, and took away the gift of forgiveness from sins confessed away from the people. That was the whole purpose of the sacrifices: to give forgiveness to the people. The life of the animal was exchanged for the life of the penitent. Blood of the lamb took the place of the person who had transgressed the Law of God.
The Lord + Jesus is our sacrificial Lamb. He suffers and dies as the unspotted Lamb of God, to pay for the sins of the whole world. He dies so that we might live. He suffers so that we might not suffer eternally in Hell. He weeps for us, so that we might live eternally in Heaven with all joy and gladness. He is all the payment which we need. We need make no other payment. We need make no other business deal. For the Lord + Jesus has entered into the temple of the holy cross and offered up Himself as the true and only sacrifice necessary for the sins of mankind.
This is why those who would have us supply some work that we must do for salvation must be driven out of the temple. They are driven out by the Lord + Jesus. He drives them out by revealing that salvation is found in Him alone. He drives them out by teaching them the things that make for their peace. They have peace with the Lord God, on account of what our Lord + Jesus has done, and not on account of any work they think they might need do. We also have this same peace. We have peace in our souls, because we know that our Lord + Jesus has already done all that is necessary to win our salvation. We also know and confess that these gifts are distributed to us through the blessed
sacraments. We have been baptized and have had our sins washed away. We come to confession and receive absolution from the minister as if from the Lord Himself. We come to this holy altar and receive our Lord’s Body and Blood in bread and wine, and receive forgiveness of our sins, eternal life and salvation. These are the things that make for our peace.
My dear friends, let us not be unaware of the things that make for our peace, like the perfidious Jews, who rejected the Lord + Jesus and desired to destroy Him in the third part of today’s Gospel pericope. Let us join with all those who listened intently to the Lord’s preaching, for He preached to them that salvation was found in Him alone. He was the object of their faith and their peace. He is the reason that we are reconciled to the Lord God. Let us therefore enter into the temple with Him, the place where forgiveness of sins is freely offered to all those who confess their sins, and receive the forgiveness and peace which He won for us on the tree of the holy cross. Let us come to this place as often as we can and receive His gifts that He desires to give to us. In the Name of our Lord + Jesus Christ. Amen.
Prayer in Pulpit after Sermon:
Almighty God, be pleased to accompany Thy Word with Thy Holy Spirit and grant that Thy Word would increase faith in us; bring into the Way of Truth all such as have erred; turn the hearts of the unrepentant; and for sake of Thy Name grant succor to all heavy hearts and those who are heavy-laden, that they may through the mercy of the Lord Jesus Christ be relieved and preserved so that they succumb not to the temptation of despair but rather that they gain the victory over the world, the flesh, and the devil; through the same Jesus Christ, Thy Son, our Lord, Who liveth and reigneth with the Thee and the Holy Ghost, ever One God, world without end. Amen.
The peace of God, which passeth all understanding, keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Amen.
Soli Deo Gloria!