Sunday, February 23, 2020

Sermon for 2/23/2020: Quinquagesima

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“We Are Going to Jerusalem…”

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.

The journey to Jerusalem is not about Jesus. It’s about you. Jesus does not go to Jerusalem for His own sake, but for yours. He’s not out to prove anything. He’s not trying to win anyone’s affection or demonstrate what kind of God He is. He’s not going for His benefit. Our Lord Jesus is going up to Jerusalem for only one reason—to bear your sin and be your Savior. To be sure, He does all the doing in Jerusalem. There’s nothing there for you to do. But He’s not going there alone. You are going with Him. And so He says, “Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem.”
Jesus is not challenging you. He’s not out to prove anything, so He doesn’t demand or even suggest that you must prove something to Him. He’s not saying, “Come with Me, if you can.” He is not inviting you merely to witness what He’s going to do. Jesus does not need an audience to suffer your death and to overcome death and hell. He is not asking you to lend Him a hand. Our Lord Jesus Christ is quite capable of enduring hell and taking on your demons without you cheering Him on.
So when He says, “Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem,” what does Jesus mean? He means this: “You’re coming with me.” That’s not a threat. It’s a statement of fact. It’s not you trying to get there, you trying to somehow get to Jerusalem or to the cross. Rather, the Lord brings you with Him, within His very body. You are there, but not because you somehow imagined yourself there or transported yourself back there. You are with Him because the Holy Spirit has put you in Christ’s very body.
Willingly and freely our Lord unites everything that you are into everything that He is. Jesus is sacrificed by His Father for you—for everything that you are: body, soul, and spirit. So you are in His flesh when He goes to Jerusalem. You are in His flesh when He is delivered to the Gentiles and mocked and insulted and spit upon and scourged and killed. You are united to Him. And if you are united in His death, you are also united in His resurrection. So you are also in His flesh when He rises from the dead on the third day.
Do not lose heart in the face of all you suffer and endure in this life. The devil, the world, and your own sinful flesh persecuted Him; they will also persecute you. You suffer many things for the Lord’s sake, just as He suffered the wrath of God and hell’s fury for you. But do not lose heart. He does not say, “You are going to Jerusalem.” He says, “Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem.” You are not alone. Your Jesus is with you, taking the brunt of the blows of the devil, the world, and your own flesh. The suffering of Christ is your blessing. His death is your life. If you died with Him, you shall also live with Him. If you endure, you shall also reign with Him.
All of that is in the little word “we.” Jesus packs all that into the sentence, “We are going up to Jerusalem.” It’s hard to see, impossible to imagine, and difficult to believe. Is it any wonder, then, that when Jesus speaks these words, they didn’t understand? Yet our Lord opens their eyes, just as He opened the eyes of the blind man. And by the Spirit, the Lord also opens your eyes to show you that He delivers His mercy in His flesh and blood, which He feeds into you for your strength and comfort.
In this Supper, you are with Him and in Him as He goes to Jerusalem. It is not by your own power. Instead, He prepares you for the journey in the waters of Holy Baptism. He nourishes you for the journey at His holy Table. Your bags are packed. You begin your walk to the cross with Christ on Ash Wednesday. He will carry you with Him on this journey of salvation. Go to the cross. Go to the tomb. You will never be the same again. 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.

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