Grace and peace in our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
Prophet, priest and king. This is the threefold office of our Lord. Prophet like Moses, priest after the order of Melchizedek and king of the line of David. On Palm Sunday, our focus is on his triumphal entry into Jerusalem as king and on Holy Week the sacrifice of his own body and blood as high priest. But, our text for today highlights Jesus in his role as prophet while the crowds saluted him as his king.
In our Gospel reading, Jesus predicted what the first century historian Josephus recorded forty years later. In Luke 13: 34-35 and Matthew 23: 37-39, Jesus at other times also prophesies the destruction of Jerusalem, but only these verses in Luke give us such detail These three incidents show that pain at the coming destruction of Jerusalem weighed heavily about Jesus. His tears shows his humanity while his knowledge of the future shows his divinity.
The tears of Jesus over the reprobate city of Jerusalem are the best evidence that he is sincere in his intent to redeem the sins of the whole world. He wants all men to be saved. But Jerusalem and its inhabitants had refused to acknowledge the time of his visitation, when the Lord came to them in the richness of his mercy and offered forgiveness, life, and salvation to all the people of Israel. If someone despises the visitation of grace that comes to him in time, when the Word of God is brought to his attention, when he has the use of the means of grace, then the time will come when spiritual blindness will set in, as the penalty of such contempt; and then comes the judgment.
During the days of the apostles, the Jews were warned never to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem or fortify their city. But during the sixth decade of the first century, they did. At the time of Passover in 70 AD, about 1,000,000 Jews gathered in Jerusalem. Roman legions surrounded the city and, for the next five months, Jerusalem was totally conquered and destroyed. Jerusalem was surrounded by three strong walls. The Romans broke wall after wall. The Romans also built a stockade around the city so that the Jews could not escape. The Jews burned it. The Romans rebuilt it from stone so that no one could escape.
The temple was burned to the ground on August 10, AD 70. Approximately 900,000 Jews starved to death as a result of the siege, were killed, or sold as slaves. Only about 100,000 remained in the city afterward. The Romans left some towers standing so that people would know where the city had been.
Why would this happen? Jesus says: "Because you did not recognize the time of your visitation." By "visitation" he refers to the preaching of the Gospel to the Jews from the days of Abraham. Time and again God had sent prophets with the Word, but the Jews rejected it just as they rejected the Son of God.
Already in the days of the prophets, Israel had abused the Temple which was built to be a place of forgiveness of sins and worship. Turning a place of worship into a hiding place for thieves shows us how far Israel had turned away from the Lord. Verses 45-46 tell us about the cleansing of the temple during Holy Week, the second cleansing. This is also described in the gospels of Matthew and Mark. John tells us that Jesus had also cleansed the temple two years earlier.
Since it would have been highly inconvenient, in some cases almost impossible, for every Israelite to bring their sacrificial animal from their home to Jerusalem, the Lord allowed those living at a distance to purchase their sacrificial animals and birds in Jerusalem. The consequence was that a thriving business soon developed, which seems to have been controlled by some of the religious leaders themselves, as they were not at all averse to making money. Everything would have been fine if they had held their market somewhere in the lower city. But the vendors had moved to the vicinity of the Temple and finally to their own courtyard. There were stables for oxen, pens for sheep and goats, chicken coops for pigeons. There were also the money changers; because it was necessary to convert currency. The fact that their methods desecrated the courts of the Lord had apparently not entered the minds of these eager businessmen. But the Lord made short work of all the buying and selling. He began to drive out buyers and sellers, reminding them in the meantime of the prophet's words about the fact that God's house should be considered a house of prayer for all people as Solomon had said in his dedication prayer. They had turned it into a den of thieves, where people sat bargaining prices and raking in excess profits.
It was not just the marketing that desecrated the house of the Lord, but also the fact that many people came there without true repentance, intending to buy themselves free of the wrath that would come with the sacrifices. But all sacrifices and prayers made with an unrepentant heart are an abomination in the eyes of God, a blasphemy of the most holy name of God. But the Lord is the Judge of all of them and, in the end, he will pass sentence on all who are guilty of hypocrisy. After Jesus had cleansed the temple, he taught in its corridors every day. During these days, people were very attentive to listen to him; They clung to his every word as if they couldn't get enough of the words of salvation. Therefore, all men must depend at all times on the Word of eternal life, as it has been revealed in the Gospel, because it bears witness to the Savior of the world and the peace that passes all over the world. Amen.
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