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You Would Not, . . . But He Would

Luke 13:31-35

Rev. Kurt Hering

Lent 2, series C
Christ Lutheran-Elkhart, and Faith Lutheran-Hugoton  

Play MP3 of this sermon

Sun, Feb 21, 2016 

Preaching to the saints of the Lutheran Church at Christ-Elkhart and Faith-Hugoton in Kansas since February 8, 2015. All sermons prior to that date were preached either at Trinity Lutheran Church-Layton or First Lutheran Church-Tooele, Utah.

That God would “not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance” is blasphemy to the ears and damnation to the lives of most religions and their leaders, let alone to this godless world of ours.

But thanks be to God, and thankfully for us sinners, Jesus does come to bring righteousness and peace to those that have neither--because we don’t really love God with all our hearts all the time and we don’t fear, love, and trust in Him above all things;. . .

To hear the entire sermon preached to the saints at Christ Lutheran-Elkhart, KS and Faith Lutheran-Hugoton, KS for the Second Sunday in LENT, "You Would not, . . . But He Would," click on the audio link provided above. The sermon begins following the Hymn of the Day, "Lord, Thee I Love with All My Heart," at 10:15 of the MP3 file.

Photo: Ancient ruins of Jerusalem: the Tower of David near the Jaffa Gate.

For those of you who prefer to read or read along while listening, the preaching manuscript follows below.

Nota Bene: Sermons are meant to be heard. Bullet points in the manuscript are explained and filled out during the preaching, so you will need to listen to the audio file to get the full message.

TEXT: At that very hour some Pharisees came and said to him, “Get away from here, for Herod wants to kill you.” And he said to them, “Go and tell that fox, 'Behold, I cast out demons and perform cures today and tomorrow, and the third day I finish my course.  Nevertheless, I must go on my way today and tomorrow and the day following, for it cannot be that a prophet should perish away from Jerusalem.' O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you would not!  Behold, your house is forsaken. And I tell you, you will not see me until you say, 'Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!' “ Luke 13:31–35

Dear Saints of God at Faith/Christ,

Do you see what is happening in our Gospel text today? Jesus is coming to gather the people chosen by His Father—the Israelites to whom He had given the Law and the Prophets and to whom now He was even sending His Son in the flesh. He was casting out demons, performing cures in the midst of them, in front of their very eyes—proof that He was bringing the very presence and kingdom of God to them in their day according to the promise of their Scriptures—and the religious leaders who were supposed to be the ones to recognize the Messiah when He brought all of that to fulfillment among them order Him to get away.

Oh, it was under the pretext of protecting Him from Herod. But it was they who wanted Him gone, who would try at first unsuccessfully to kill Him, and would eventually incite the citizenry to mob the courts of Pilate and demand His crucifixion.

Now think about that. Jesus was curing and casting out demons from their own people—their friends and neighbors, their own kinfolk, the ones they were supposed to be shepherding as God’s servants of the Word.

Jesus was exposing them and posing a threat to their authority and control of the people. He was gathering a following and doing so by going first to the very ones they had cast out and deemed unfit to live among them as ones who prevent the Messiah from picking and honoring and rewarding them for their good behavior and righteous rule of His people.

Because of their rejection of those they had been called to serve, the “least of these” our Lord speaks about as being so precious to Him and whom ought not be caused to stumble or cast away from His presence among His chosen people, and because of their rejection of Him as the very Messiah they were supposed to be preparing their own people to recognize and welcome as their Savior, Jesus had just told them, “I do not know where you come from. Depart from me, all you workers of evil!” Luke 13:27

So it was not Jesus’ welfare on their minds. They have been presenting themselves as the keepers of righteousness and purifiers of the kingdom. They have been beating their chests in the temple thanking God they are not like these sinners and casting sinners away. They have been singing, “Lord, Thee I Love with All My Heart” as loudly as they could for all to see. And now that Lord whom they supposedly loved and served and glorified with all their hearts and all their might and all their glorious works was coming to gather them and they would not. They didn’t like it one bit because He was not doing it on their terms and He was making them look bad—like sinners even.

And because of that He was publicly chastising them, embarrassing them, and calling them what they were, “workers of evil!”

They just could neither imagine nor tolerate that their Messiah would be coming to save those they had so religiously been purging from courts of God’s temple. That God would “not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance” was blasphemy to their ears and damnation to their lives.

But thanks be to God, and thankfully for us sinners, Jesus does come for that very reason, to bring righteousness and peace to those that have neither because we don’t really love God with all our hearts all the time and we don’t fear, love, and trust in Him above all things; and because we need to be saved and brought into His peace and given something better and longer lasting than anything we have to fear, love, and trust because we can’t even imagine the depth of His love, the extent of His power, or the trustworthiness of His Word apart from this one being rejected by the Pharisees.

But that peace comes at great cost. For the price is His holy precious blood and His innocent suffering and death—suffering and death that every one of His followers including His disciples then, you now, and every baptized child of God until He comes again must indeed share. In this alone do we find the presence of God who comes to forgive the sins that separate us from Him and earned His wrath. And that is just not easy to take—in fact, impossible for men apart from the work of the Holy Spirit. Hanging on His words with Him is simply not something our flesh is inclined to do by choice.

So to those who live the life of the flesh, Jesus gives warning:

O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you would not! Luke 13:34

This is why we as Lutherans are so adamant that

“. . . in those things which concern the spoken, outward Word, we must firmly hold that God grants His Spirit or grace to no one, except through or with the preceding outward Word, in order that we may [thus] be protected against the enthusiasts, i.e., spirits who boast that they have the Spirit without and before the Word, and accordingly judge Scripture or the spoken Word, and explain and stretch it at their pleasure, . . .

All this is the old devil and old serpent, who also converted Adam and Eve into enthusiasts, and led them from the outward Word of God to spiritualizing and self-conceit, and nevertheless he accomplished this through other outward words. 6] Just as also our enthusiasts [at the present day] condemn the outward Word, and nevertheless they themselves are not silent, but they fill the world with their pratings and writings, . . . “According to THE SMALCALD ARTICLES: PART III ARTICLE VIII.3, OF CONFESSION

So because of all of this

• Because of all of the rejection and unbelief His Word and messengers will meet in Jerusalem and wherever they go;

• Because of all the suffering and death He knows His followers, He knows YOU will have to endure;

• Because He knows the devil has you targeted as an individual since both Christ and His church are safe and at peace with God. [Revelation 12:17]

• Because He wants to protect us from false prophets,

• Because He would gather you even though you would not be gathered if it were your own choice and work

after hanging on His own word—by which He suffered, died, was buried, rose from the dead—He has now ascended to the right hand of the Father in heaven, from whence Jesus now sends the Holy Spirit to point you and even bring you to where He is to be found.

• Always through the cross;

• Always to have us live in the Baptism that makes us one with Him;

• Always preaching repentance and the kingdom of heaven;

• Always to have us confess and be absolved;

• Always to draw us to the table of His very body and blood;

• Always by the power of the Holy Spirit at work in His body here on earth, The Holy Christian Church;

• Always forgiving you your sins and giving you the name of the One True God Who Is Faithful so you can always be hanging on His words for eternal life as His baptized children—in the name of the Father ,and of the + Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen

Insofar as this sermon is a true proclamation of the Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ, it belongs to Him and His Church. Therefore its use is free to all who deem it worthy and beneficial.

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