************ Sermon on Luke 19:42-44 ************
By: Rev. Adrian Dieleman
This sermon was preached on April 16, 2000
Luke 13:31-35; 19:28-44
"Jesus' Sorrow for Jerusalem"
So many times in Scripture, God gives His children a choice. "Choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve," says Joshua when he calls the people to make a choice between the gods of the pagans and the LORD (Josh 24:15). Through His servant Moses, God says
(Deut 30:19) This day I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live ...In his proverbs, King Solomon urges the people of God to choose wisdom, instruction, and knowledge rather than silver and gold (Prov 8:10;16:16). In His Sermon on the Mount, Jesus holds out to the people a choice between the narrow way that leads to life and the broad way that leads to destruction (Mt 7:13f).
Peace or destruction, life or death, blessings or curses – according to this morning's Scripture reading, that's the choice Jesus held out before Israel. And, we know that is also the choice God has set before us.
A Jesus approaches Jerusalem and talks of "peace." The Hebrew word is "shalom." It means wholeness, well-being, salvation. Peace or shalom comes to expression in four areas: with God, with your neighbor, with yourself, and with creation.
First of all, there is peace or reconciliation with God. Man's natural, sinful state is one of enmity with God; he hates and disobeys God. Since sinful man cannot bear to be in the presence of the holy God, he flees from God, he is separated and alienated and exiled from God. We see this already when our first parents, Adam and Eve, hid from God's presence and later were driven from God's presence in the garden.
But those who have peace, shalom, are reconciled with God. Listen to what the Apostle John sees in the revelation given to him:
(Rev 21:3) And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God.
Title: Snap Fingers with God
The Uduk people of the Sudan say that those who have peace, shalom, can once again snap fingers with God. In our culture, we show friendship and agreement by shaking hands. To refuse to shake hands means we do not consider the other person to be a friend. What we do with hand-shaking, the Uduks do with finger-snapping. The Uduks snap fingers with friends. And, they refuse to snap fingers with someone who is an enemy. To the Uduk, an unsaved person is an enemy of God. He is a person who "refuses to snap fingers with God." A saved person, on the other hand, is not an enemy of God. Because he has been reconciled to God, he is said to snap fingers with God. Using the words of Jesus outside of Jerusalem, we would say that this person has peace, shalom.
B Second, there is peace or shalom with your neighbor. All around us we see that man's natural, sinful state is one of enmity with and hatred toward his neighbor. Behind the Walls of our prisons, for instance, are men who have raped, murdered, and abused fellow human beings. In the Today booklet this past week we were reminded of the brutal beating that white policemen in Los Angeles gave to Rodney King. Who can forget the monstrosities committed by the Restoration of the Ten Commandments cult in Uganda? Consider the war between Russia & Chechnya, the continued bloodshed between Jew and Arab, the violence of Northern Ireland, the ancient feuds of Sri Lanka and Cyprus. Can there be any doubt of man's hatred toward man?
But those who have peace, shalom, are able to love their neighbor. The prophet Isaiah says,
(Is 2:4) He will judge between the nations and will settle disputes for many peoples. They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore. Those who have the peace, the shalom, that Christ speaks of, live in harmony with their neighbor.
Topic: PeaceHow could the father do this? Obviously, he got the peace, the shalom, that Jesus speaks of in our text.
Subtopic: Able to love
A young soldier was going off to fight in World War II against the Japanese. As his father put him on the train and waved good- bye, he turned with bitter tears and said, "If my son is killed, I hope every Jap in the world is killed!"
A year later the son was killed. Soon $10,000 in life insurance money arrived. The father did a most surprising thing with the money: he sent it to the Southern Baptist Foreign Mission Board and designated it for missions to the Japanese.
C Third, there is peace or shalom with yourself. Here, we think of wholeness, fullness, and well-being. All around us we see disease, brokenness, disability: like cancer, cerebral palsy, Down's Syndrome, Parkinson's, heart-attack, stroke, deafness, blindness, chronic depression.
But those who have peace, shalom, can look forward to a time without any of this. Listen to what Scripture says:
(Is 35:5-6) Then will the eyes of the blind be opened and the ears of the deaf unstopped. (6) Then will the lame leap like a deer, and the mute tongue shout for joy.What a beautiful picture, a picture of wholeness, fullness, and well-being for all those who have the peace, the shalom that Christ speaks of in our text.
(Rev 21:4) He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.
D Lastly, there is peace or shalom with and in Creation. Right now we see a world that is badly messed up because of man: toxic wastes, acid rain, nuclear wastes, PCBs, deforestation of the Amazon, extinction of whole species of plant and animal life, water pollution, oil spills, global warming, a mounting garbage and land-fill crisis. This past week President Clinton declared the Sequoias to be a National Monument – in order to prevent any further damage to the environment there.
But those who have peace, shalom, can look forward to a time when man will live in harmony with God's Creation, when man will preserve rather than destroy Creation.
(Is 11:6-9) The wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat, the calf and the lion and the yearling together; and a little child will lead them. (7) The cow will feed with the bear, their young will lie down together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox. (8) The infant will play near the hole of the cobra, and the young child put his hand into the viper's nest. (9) They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain ...
Peace, shalom – this is one of the choices that Jesus holds out before us this morning.
II Judgment and Destruction
A But there is also another choice: judgment and destruction. Jesus speaks of this when He said,
(Lk 19:43-44) The days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment against you and encircle you and hem you in on every side. (44) They will dash you to the ground, you and the children within your walls. They will not leave one stone on another ...We know that Jesus was prophesying events that would happen within 40 years.
In A.D. 66 the Jews rebelled against Roman rule. The Romans' counterattack was directed first against Galilee. During the Passover season in the year A.D. 70, when many pilgrims had come into the city, the Roman General Titus marched on Jerusalem. When the Jewish defenders destroyed a wall of wooden stakes the Romans built around the city, it was replaced with a stone siege-dike, an embankment of the type mentioned by Jesus. Now none of the inhabitants nor the pilgrims could escape and no reinforcements or supplies could get in. Jewish resistance fighters who were captured were nailed by the Romans to crosses which were set up on the banks around the city, in order to terrify the Jews into surrender. When the Romans broke through after a bitter 5 month struggle, the furious soldiers mercilessly killed every Jew they met. All of the city was destroyed except for the famous wailing wall and a few tower fortifications. Over a million Jews, young and old, are said to have lost their life in the war.
B In prophesying the destruction of Jerusalem, Jesus is thinking of another judgment that is far more terrifying, a judgment that is foreshadowed or prefigured in the fall of Jerusalem in A.D. 70. This judgment we know as the Final Judgment of eternal death. In talking about this, the Bible speaks of the "gnashing of teeth," "second death," "burning sulphur," "lake of fire," and "the seven bowls of God's wrath" (cf Rev. 16-19).
Judgment and destruction – this is the other choice that Jesus holds out before us this morning.
III Response to Christ
A What does make for peace and life? How can Israel avoid judgment and destruction?
Topic: CleansingWithout our being washed clean by the blood of Christ, we die an eternal death from the contamination of sin. But if we are washed clean, then ours is peace/shalom and life. The difference always lies in Christ and man's response to Him. Rejection of Christ always results in judgment and destruction. Acceptance of Christ always results in peace/shalom and life.
Title: Wash Your Hands!
In 1818, Ignaz Phillip Semmelweis was born into a world of dying women. The finest hospitals lost one out of six young mothers to the scourge of "childbed fever." A doctor's daily routine began in the dissecting room where he performed autopsies. From there he made his way to the hospital to examine expectant mothers without ever pausing to wash his hands. Dr. Semmelweis was the first man in history to associate such examinations with the resultant infection and death. His own practice was to wash with a chlorine solution, and after eleven years and the delivery of 8,357 babies, he lost only 184 mothers -- about one in fifty.
He spent the vigor of his life lecturing and debating with his colleagues. Once he argued, "The fever is caused by decomposed material conveyed to a wound ... I have shown how it can be prevented. I have proved all that I have said. But while we talk, talk, talk, gentlemen, women are dying. I am not asking anything world shaking. I am asking you only to wash ... For God's sake, wash your hands."
But virtually no one believed him. Doctors and midwives had been delivering babies for thousands of years without washing, and no outspoken Hungarian was going to change them now! Semmelweis died insane at the age of 47, his wash basins discarded, his colleagues laughing in his face, and the death rattle of a thousand women ringing in his ears.
"Wash me!" was the anguished prayer of King David. "Wash!" was the message of John the Baptist. "Unless I wash you, you have no part with me," said the towel- draped Jesus to Peter.
B Jesus weeps at the grave of Lazarus. In this morning's Scripture reading we see another time that His tears are recorded: He cries as He approaches Jerusalem. He weeps and cries because the people of Israel do not know – in fact, they refuse to know – what makes for peace. They refuse to admit that peace comes by way of the cross and the grave, by way of a King Who wears a crown of thorns (HOLD UP THORNS).
How come Israel did not know what made for peace? Israel did not know what made for peace because a suffering and dying King was NOT what they expected.
Last week on vacation I biked through Death Valley. I have to say that Death Valley was not what I expected. I expected a place of sand – like the Sahara – but instead it is mostly a place of gravel and stones. I expected some-thing boring and flat – but instead it has vistas as beautiful as the Grand Canyon. I expected a place that is hot – and it was hot – up to 110 F.Jesus was not the kind of king that Israel and Jerusalem expected – they expected a King Who would make the Romans and foreigners suffer, a King Who would re-establish Israel as an earthly kingdom, a King Who would lead Israel to victory in battle. Because Jesus was NOT the kind of king that Israel and Jerusalem expected, they did not recognize Him as the Messiah Who would bring peace with God, man, self, and creation.
C Israel is given a choice between peace or destruction, shalom or judgment, life or death, blessings or curses. "Now choose life," says God, "so that you and your children may live ..." (Deut 30:19). But Israel does not know what makes for peace and life. And, because she does not know and will not know, she ends up choosing for judgment and destruction.
Jesus approaches Jerusalem and weeps. He knows that the children of Israel have rejected Him as the Messiah. He knows that the children of Israel do not accept Him as Savior and Lord. They should know better: they have the Old Testament Scriptures which point to Jesus, and, for 3 years they have witnessed the presence of God in the life and ministry of Jesus. Time after time Jesus has reached out to them in love. Jesus says,
(Lk 13:34) ... how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing! That sums it up perfectly: Israel was not willing; she refused to accept the evidence that Jesus is the Christ, the Messiah, the Savior. Israel rejects Jesus, just like she has rejected many of the prophets of old (Lk 13:34; cf Lk 11:47ff; 1 K 18:4,13; 19:10; Jer 26:20ff; Neh 9:26). Israel rejects Jesus, so there awaits her only the fearful prospect of judgment.
Does Christ have to weep over any of us like He wept over Jerusalem? Do any of us refuse to know what makes for peace? Are any of us unwilling to recognize the time of God's coming?
By grace, congregation, you have a choice between accepting Christ or rejecting Christ. By grace you have a choice between peace or destruction, shalom or judgment, life or death, blessings or curses. By grace God says to us what He said to Israel: "Now choose life, choose Christ, so that you and your children may live ..." (Deut 30:19).
So let me ask you: what have you chosen – life or death?
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