Let Us Draw Near With A True Heart
November 17, 2018
Verse: Mark 13:1–13:2
Christ Lutheran Church
November 18, 2018
by: Rev. Dean Kavouras
Pentecost 26 – 2nd Last Sunday Of The Church Year
Let Us Draw Near With A True Heart
As he went out of the temple one of his disciples said to him, "Teacher! Look! All these marvelous stones and wonderful buildings!" And Jesus answering said to them, "Do you see these magnificent buildings? There shall not be left one stone standing atop another that shall not be thrown down. Mark 13:1-2
The second last Sunday of the church year is not for the faint of heart. It is not user-friendly; nor will you find these verses on any of the glitzy programmable signs that seem to be popping up in front of pandering churches everywhere.
That’s because the second last Sunday of the church year is meant to alarm us. Meant to sober us up. Meant to wake us up from the stupor of the sins which so easily beset us.
It is a reminder in the words of St. Paul, that: “The night is far spent and the day is at hand; therefore let us cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light.” (Romans 13:12) It is a call to resist the devil, make no provisions for the sins of the flesh, lay aside all earthly cares, and to “fix our eyes upon Jesus the author and perfecter of our faith” (Heb. 12:2) – the very thing we are doing there today by grace through faith!
The disciples were well impressed with the grandeur of the temple and its precincts. With the massive stones of which it was constructed and why should they not have been? The Jerusalem temple was an architectural, engineering and logistical marvel. Yes, they were deeply impressed. But Jesus was not!
And so he throws a bucket of ice cold water on their wide-eyed enthusiasm. “Do you see these magnificent buildings?” he said. “There shall not be left one stone standing atop another, that shall not be thrown down.”
What could he possibly have meant by that?
It was his judgment on the temple! A judgment that would be carried out 40 years later when the Romans would level this same temple in fulfillment of the Lord’s prophecy.
Though the house of God is holy it had, in spite of an endless parade of prophets and warnings to repent, evicted its God! It rejected Jesus the Final Prophet and Son of God and, as such, was no longer of any religious value at all.
The same is true of the House of God that we occupy this morning. It is holy. Not just notionally because we “set it aside” for religious purposes. But factually holy. Made so "by the Word of God and Prayer” (1 Tim. 4:15) that was placed upon it when we dedicated it 2 years ago: and such it is holy ground.
Just like the holy ground that Moses occupied when he stood unshod before the burning bush that burned, but was not consumed. The same "bush" we kneel before each Sunday as we receive the true flesh and blood of Christ on our lips - in, with and under the bread and wine that is likewise not consumed though these earthly elements contain the inifinte God.
And as long as the gospel of Christ is preached here in its truth and purity, and the blessed sacraments are administered in accord with the gospel, it shall remain holy and continue to provide the Bread of Life for us.
This is why we pray in today’s Collect that God would , “ … release us from the bonds of our sins … that we may stand firm until the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.” And, further, why we sing in today’s hymn, “Come mighty judge and make us free from every evil.” (TLH #611)
But even as Jesus “exited” the temple in judgment as we hear in verse 1 of today’s gospel – a new temple was about to be established! It’s the one we hear about it today’s epistle lesson. It is the flesh and blood of Jesus!. St. Paul says it like this:
“Therefore, Brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is his Flesh! And since we have a Great Priest over the House of God let us draw near with a true heart; in full assurance of faith; with hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience; and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the Confession of our hope without wavering for he who promised is faithful! And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works; while not neglecting the assembling of ourselves together as the custom of some is. But let us encourage one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.”
Yes, Jesus is the temple of God and by baptism we are the living stones that comprise it; the holy priesthood that offers the spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. (1 Peter 2:5) And so let us do as St. Paul exhorts in Hebrews 10:22. As we are invited to do each Sunday in this holy house:
"Let us draw near with a true heart, and confess our sins unto God our Father beseeching him in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to grant us forgiveness” For we are the ones who, in the words of our Gradual, “have come out of the Great Tribulation” of our sins and by holy baptism “have washed our robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.”
As such we are the ones spoken of in today’s Old Testament lesson. We are the ones who are "delivered" from the cauldron of our sins. We are the ones who will soon “sleep in the dust of the earth.” But we are also those who, because of our baptismal union with Christ, and his indestructible life, will “awaken to everlasting life,” and “shine like the brightness of the sky above … and like the stars forever and ever.” (Daniel 12:1-3)
This is our future in Christ beloved!
And so let us draw near to God with a true heart and sing Holy Holy Holy to the Lord God Almighty! To our Lord Jesus Christ who was crucified, buried and raised again for us men and for our salvation, and who gives himself to us, body and blood, in Holy Communion today for the remission of sins, life and salvation. Amen.