Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.
Have you ever had the experience where you just know that something horrible is going to happen? Have you ever been convinced that the worst thing possible cannot possibly be avoided? Perhaps there’s a car stuck on the tracks, and you know the train is going to plow through it. Our Lord weeps today because He knows the trouble that is coming. He knows the wages of sin is death. He knows Jerusalem, that Holy City, will soon be destroyed by Rome. He knows the people will pay the price for unbelief. He knows. After all, the Lord has visited them, time after time, to warn them against their unbelief, their disregard of God and His prophets. All His Ministry, Christ has been preaching to turn the hardened hearts of men to God's mercy and salvation.
This is not the first time Christ has mourned for Jerusalem. Only chapters before, our Lord cries out in anguish for the city and her people: “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often I would have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you would not!” He has been among His people there since David brought the Ark of the Covenant into the city. He had dwelt there in the sacrificial service of the priesthood in her Temple. He kept the Law there at His infancy, when He first shed blood for His people in His circumcision. He was found in her Temple on the third day by His parents, sitting among the teachers, rejoicing in His Father's Word. He Himself was everything the City and her Temple represented. But all the people want to do is go on with their sinful ways. They care nothing for God's Word! Jesus weeps over that. He came to bring them so much good. Why must they insist on turning it into their harm?
That's the way it is with sinful men who do not fear the Lord. If you told the victims of terrorist attacks about the coming carnage, most of them would not change their life one bit. If you tell a child that a man in a white truck will take her off one day, she will only shrug. We are a stubborn, sinful people! That's why He weeps. If only His people paid attention to His Word! If only they knew the things that make for peace!
So what makes for peace, dear people? Knowing the future? We all know the future. We will die one day. Not even atheists deny that. But does it bring us peace? Look how hard we work to stave off age, how much we spend, how frantically we cling to our youth. So what makes for peace? That you are not now in some terrible condition? That you don’t feel sick right now? That someone else’s child is the one whose tragedy we see? That you're a pretty decent person? That you're a Lutheran and you know your doctrine better than the rest? It is my sad duty to tell you that death is stalking you. It’s my sad duty to tell you that your body is falling apart. It is my sad duty to tell you that your enemies line up against you. Even now they do, with every line and wrinkle, every ache and pain! They will tear you to the ground, and your children with you.
The Lord is trying to open your eyes. He doesn't want the things that make for peace hidden from your eyes or kept out of your ears! He wants to save you, so that even when death draws near, even when the enemies surround you, you will live. What a Savior! He hasn't come to condemn the world, but to rescue it. He's come to take your sins upon Himself, to die in place of every sinner. He's come to be your life when death is all you've got. He’s come to be your righteousness when all you know is sin, your hope when all you feel is sorrow and despair, your confidence before God when all you ought to do is tremble. He came to be your Peace when everything's against you!
Jesus is your Temple from above. When He visits you, that is your peace. And God visits you this morning in the preaching and the teaching of His Word. He visits you with peace that passes understanding. He has raised you in the waters of Holy Baptism, where He bathed you in that peace. He gave you that peace again when your pastor absolved you here this morning. He's preaching peace right now: the peace that outlasts all your sinning.
The One Who wept for you also bled for you, and now He sets a table here before you in the presence of your enemies. But He is present there with you too! This means that, even when your body fails, you have the Lord’s body and blood to raise you up and give you peace. In the name of the Father and of the Son (+) and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
The peace of God which passes all understanding will keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus always. Amen.