The Tenth Sunday after Trinity – Historic Lectionary – Luke 19:41-48
In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, Amen.
In righteous anger, our Lord drives the wicked, the evil, and the moneylenders from the Temple.
In righteous anger, He scatters the sacrificial animals and overturns the tables for buying and selling.
In righteous anger, He fashions a whip out of cords, which is to say,
that today He is not waiting to hear his opponents out,
today, He is not preaching from the pulpit seeking to win his enemies over.
The time for talk is ended, the time for action has come.
Our Lord makes a mess out of false religion, and so sweeps clean the household of God.
Behold the righteousness of Christ. It waits for no man.
On this Monday of Holy Week, our Lord begins, with or without the people of Jerusalem, to put in place the things that make for peace.
You and I are living right now in a nation that is clamoring for peace.
We are living in a culture that is desperate and crying out for an end to all of the insanity,
an end to the violence, an end to the abusive talk and the hate-filled words.
And some have decided that the time for talk is over, that we can no longer just debate the ideas, but that change must happen now, that the time for action has come.
You know these things. You are not blind to the fact that this cannot be contained to the city Charlottesville; that it doesn’t just go away if you turn off the TV, or shut off the news.
We are not simply watching it right now, we are living in it.
And today, as we hear and watch Jesus drive evil out of the temple, and cleanse it for the purpose of peace, there are for us, many pitfalls and many traps ready to overtake us.
After all, we hear this Gospel lesson not in a vacuum, but in the midst of our own anxieties and worries and fears and problems that we bring with us to church.
For we may be tempted to view Jesus’s angry work as an example to follow wherever we see fit.
We may be tempted to think that we know what exactly is moving in the heart of Jesus.
That we too, in these earthly matters of peace and violence, know what it is to be so committed to a cause,
so zealous for righteousness, so bent on peace and an end to hatred, that we would do what Jesus does.
That the time for talk is over, the time for action has come. That sometimes the ends will justify the means.
That when it comes to hatred and evil ideologies, we just need to sweep the house clean. That righteousness and goodness waits for no man. It’s time to just do it. Make it happen. End it.
The Church and the world will always been tempted to see nothing more in the peace that our Lord comes to bring, than a simple earthly solution to earthly problems, a short term plan, a political or human philosophy, a how-to guide on how to protest, or fight, or wage a holy and righteous war.
We are often short-sighted, and like the people of Jerusalem,
we often fail to understand the real things of peace that Jesus has come to bring.
Our Lord is not giving us a how-to guide on earthly peace today.
His eyes are fixed on something far greater and far beyond the short-term plans of men.
To be sure, there is a righteous anger of Jesus that the Church does embody and is called to live in.
You actually heard about it two weeks ago, as Christ called you to judge the prophets.
When it comes to the peace of God, His salvation given for free and without cost, He does come with wrath against anyone and anything that would bar the way between His cross and His people.
So He cleanses the temple, so He drives out the religion of works, so He makes room for the blind and the lame, the sinful and the unrighteous.
And so does His Church, as she takes up the call of righteous anger and explicitly preaches against false teaching, as she exposes the false doctrine of works and the glory of men.
In that, we do live in the righteous anger of Christ…but that’s where it ends.
It goes no further than the Word of the Gospel given for the Church to speak, not to fight with, but to speak found in pulpits, fonts, altars, and the lives of Baptismal witness.
Everything else that we participate in with our anger, is the sinfulness of men. Everything else does not make for peace; it does not go far enough, it does not answer the real problem, and it does not last.
That is what the Christian must come to grips with.
That no matter what he scraps and gathers together, no matter what good he thinks he’s doing, none of it, outside of the cleansing blood of Christ, will make for true and lasting peace, it will always come to an end.
Mankind makes for war in every way imaginable. He identifies and fights with his skin color, his social class, his political party, his gender, his education, whatever it might be.
We do not know the things that make for peace. Even in the name of so-called love, even in the name of harmony and non-violence, we push aside, we tear down, and we cast the untouchables out from our midst.
On and on it goes, and it never lasts, at least not permanently.
In 70 AD, a kind of peace will come to the walls of Jerusalem.
This peace will have a name, that of Titus and the Roman army.
This peace will surround the city, cut off the water supply, bar the way in and the way out, and in the name of peace it will starve 3 million people from the inside out. The Romans will have peace, the rebellion will be crushed; all of the insanity will end.
Later a new kind of peace will be brought to Rome itself, it will capture the city and put an end to its empire.
It will bring peace, but it will not last, for it never does.
Jerusalem is a warning to us, to examine ourselves and the things that we scrap together in the name of peace.
Repent for holding on to the things that do not make for peace, and for believing desperately as if they did.
Repent when the assurance of your faith is entirely dependent upon the election cycle.
Repent when your peace is made by the things of your child’s sports schedule, or the next weight loss program, or the security of an ethno-state, or the outcome of national wars.
These are not the things that make for peace.
And if you hang your hopes on them, believing that you will have peace by them, believing that you will not struggle, that the Lord will not oppose you, that He will not preach against you, that He will not come to sweep clean the unrepentance and unbelief of your hearts…
Then on the day of your visitation, you will be caught unaware and unprepared. Repent.
The things of peace are the body and blood and death of God Himself.
And that peace, is a peace that does not end.
Neither is it at all like the things that men try to throw and hold together.
It does not throw out the untouchables, neither does it pit man against his neighbor
neither does it destroy or tear down, or push out with wrath and vengeance.
It is one thing to preach from the pulpit that in Christianity there is no place for racism, it is another to proclaim why that cannot be.
The truth is not found in the Law, it isn’t simply the hard word of ‘don’t be a hateful person’ or ‘try not to judge your neighbor’.
Racism is not found in the body of Christ, because it is not possible.
In short, and in Christ, it is not what you are, it is not what He has made you.
To be sure, in this fallen flesh, racism attacks and pervades us all, we all need to repent, we distrust our neighbors for a variety of ridiculous reasons, skin color being only one of the many.
But in Holy Baptism, outside of the Law, outside of a winsome, attractive, or even ‘preachy’ word from the pulpit, the truth is that Christ has already pulled you out from the many identities that you love to claim, and He has replaced them with but one name, one identity, one people.
The body of Christ. United by His blood. Blood which draws all men to Himself.
For He cleanses the temple not to destroy the moneychangers, but to fill it with His blood.
He scatters the sacrificial animals, so that His body might be put in its rightful place upon the altar.
He overturns the tables, so that His death and body and blood costing Him everything might be given for free, to sinners, to you, to make you clean.
This is the Peace of Christ: that you, having true and everlasting peace, would have peace over the grave, peace over the sword, over violence and death, and that you would this even now.
It is not that you will not suffer, it is not that you will not face violence, but you do not have to despair in it, you have what is needed, what has made for peace, what cannot tear you away from the Father’s love.
Luther famously said in the face of persecution, “World, death, devil, hell, away and leave me in peace! You have no hold on me. If you will not let me live, then I will die. But you won’t succeed in that. Chop my head off, and it won’t harm me. I have One who will give me a new one.”
As you are in Christ, you also are made to walk with Him and in Him,
to go the way of Jerusalem, to go the way of the Cross.
To live in the One who for our sake, brought us peace by taking all the violence and wrath and scorn and hatred and division and rebellion into Himself. Suffering all of it, that to us, we might have none of it.
So the Christian lives in Christ, and for the neighbor. She suffers the ridicule of an unbelieving world, She suffers the violence of men who do not know what makes for peace.
She suffers these things, because she has already that which promises to overcome even this earthly life, even the violence of the neighbor, even the unbelief of Jerusalem.
Indeed, in you, it has already done this.
Our Lord has swept you clean, He has placed you in His Kingdom, and He will not let you go.
In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.