Grace and peace in our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
Our text for today is part of the Holy Week account in the Gospel according to Saint Luke. Precisely from the account of Palm Sunday, when Jesus approached Jerusalem seated on a donkey. A large crowd greeted him and shouted, "Hosanna to the Son of David" and threw thier mantles and palms on the road. Jesus' last entry into Jerusalem was a triumphal entry. Why are we talking about this text today, which is not Palm Sunday?
Our text reads: "And when he came near the city, when he saw it, he wept over it, saying: Oh, if you knew also, at least in this your day, what is for your peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. For the days will come upon you, that your enemies will surround you with fencing, and they will besiege you, and they will shake you everywhere, and they will bring you down to the ground, and your children within you; And they shall not leave a stone upon stone upon you; Because you did not know the time of your visitation. "
In the midst of his triumphal procession, Jesus wept over the city and prophesied the destruction of it and its temple. Also in our Old Testament reading (Jeremiah 7: 1-11), before the first time the city and its temple were destroyed, the prophet Jeremiah warned the people: "Improve your ways and your works, and I will cause you to dwell in this place. Do not believe in lying words, saying, "The temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord is this."
The temple of Jerusalem was a large building located on top of the hill called Zion. To the Jews, it was a symbol of their homeland, but more than that, it was the house of God. Every day the people offered prayers and sacrifices of thanksgiving in the temple, and on the appointed dates priests offered sacrifices of animals in propitiation for the sins of the people. There was one special day every year, the Day of Atonement, when the high priest entered the Holy of Holies to offer sacrifices for the sins of the whole nation. The temple had its outer courts, one for the Gentiles, one further inside for women, one even further inside for men. In the center of the temple was the Holy Place, only for the priests and inside the Holy Place, the Most Holy Place.
The first temple in Jerusalem was built by King Solomon, about a thousand years before the birth of Jesus Christ. Jeremiah speaks of this temple. The temple was a great blessing to the people. Jeremiah warned them against taking this blessing for granted. They did not live as children of God. "Behold ye yourselves trust in lying words, which do not profit. Slaughtering, slaying, and adulterating, and swearing falsely, ofering incense to Baal, and walking after strange gods that you did not know. "
Then came the day of the destruction of the city and its temple by the Babylonians. After 70 years of captivity in Babylon, the Persians defeated the Babylonians and allowed the Jews to return to their land and rebuild Jerusalem and its temple almost 600 years before Christ. The temple at that time of Jesus was the second temple.
In addition, 20 years before the birth of Jesus, King Herod the Great began a project of temple renovation and expansion. This project was not fulfilled until 20 years after the birth of Jesus. On the first Palm Sunday, the temple was larger than ever, but Jesus prophesied its destruction again.
This prophecy was fulfilled in 70 AD after the Romans destroyed the city and its temple. The temple was not rebuilt again. Today there are only the ruins of the retaining walls of the temple complex. A wall, called the Wailing Wall, is a place where Jewish pilgrims from all over the world travel to pray. But there is no other temple.
In that time of Jeremiah, God allowed the destruction of the temple because of the idolatry and immorality of the people. But, it also allowed the rebuilding of the temple, because the sacrifices in the temple still had to point to the perfect sacrifice of Jesus Christ.
God allowed the destruction of the temple the second time because people rejected the promised Son of God to their parents. But this time, the destruction of the temple signaled the end of an era, the time of atonement sacrifices. The blood of Jesus, the Lamb without blemish, covered all our sins, now and forever.
Therefore, we do not have to sacrifice animals to avoid God's wrath and damnation. Nor is the Mass an atonement sacrifice. The blood and body of Christ is present at the sacrament, but not to be offered in sacrifice again. Let us receive the blood and body of Christ for the nourishment of our faith and to be living members of the body of Christ which is the church.
Neither should we travel to Jerusalem to worship God. As a spirit, God does not need a home. We can pray and praise God in our own home or elsewhere. However, we are creatures of flesh and bones, of five senses. God has ordained means of grace with elements visible to us.
Also, this house of prayer is a blessing to us. For more than 10 years, we gathered for worship in a roofed courtyard. We experienced a lot of distractions from the rain, the wind, the noise from the streets. Now we have a place to focus on the Word of God and prayers with Christian art.
What God wants above all else is sincere worship with the fruits of love and mercy in our lives. Jeremiah and Jesus also warned the people that there will come days of judgment and destruction of the temple. A day of judgment will come for us too. If we take the opportunity to repent of our sins and receive forgiveness and nourishment of our faith, in the final judgment after physical death, we should not have the fear of God because of Christ. This is our hope and in that we have peace that surpasses all understanding. Amen.
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