Hanging On His Words
August 23, 2022 Pastor: Rev. George Fyler
Luke 19,41-48 ~ “Hanging on His Words”
10th Sunday after Trinity
When you heard the words of today’s Gospel lesson you may have thought, “Sounds like a Palm Sunday reading—but it’s August—what’s going on with the lectionary?” You heard Jesus’ word of warning for The Temple’s and Jerusalem’s total destruction to come. According to the Jewish calendar this took place in 70 AD during the month we name August, thus the placement in the Lectionary..
These words of St. Luke that close out today’s Gospel reading command our attention — “and He was teaching daily in the temple. The chief priests and the scribes and the principal men of the people were seeking to destroy Him, but they did not find anything they could do, for all the people were hanging on His words.” (Lk. 19:47-48)
In the name of the Father and of the (X) Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Dear beloved of the Lord:
The Holy Spirit has brought you to this house of God where you can find Jesus so you can live now and forever by "hanging on His words."
In today’s Gospel reading Jesus is in Jerusalem — the city founded by God to be a city of peace and safety. Believers especially, gathered at God’s Holy Temple where the people were "hanging on His words," thus preventing the chief priests and scribes from destroying Jesus — at least that day — for His time had not yet come.
However, by the end of the week it would be Jesus, the very Son of God, who would be hanging on His own words for all the people, pouring His blood out and dying on the cross for them so that by hanging on His words they, and you, would not be destroyed eternally.
Yes, Jesus comes for this very reason, to bring believers God’s Words of righteousness, forgiveness and peace — and the safety that comes with them.
But that peace and safety comes at great cost. For the price is Jesus Christ’s holy precious Body and Blood and His innocent suffering and death — suffering and death that every one of His followers including His disciples then, us today and every baptized child of God until He comes again must indeed share. “So, When [Jesus] drew near and saw the city, he wept over it, saying, "Would that you, even you, had known on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes.” (Lk. 19: 41-42)
Jesus has come to bring peace to His people in the heavenly realm, that is, in the presence of God there is peace because He has come to forgive the sins that separate us from Him and earn His wrath. But the way He does it is just not easy to understand and believe — in fact, impossible for us apart from the work of the Holy Spirit. Hanging on His words 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: “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword.” (Mt. 10:34) And according to Hebrews 4:12: “For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.”
As awful as that sounds, it is the truth we need so that we may continue to hang on His words, which is nothing other than faith. God sends and keeps sending messengers to bring that sword, that Word of God to His people who have such a hard time receiving and believing it. They often fall prey to the wolves in sheep clothing who bring another Gospel, another Jesus other than the One who goes to the cross — hanging on His own words for us — and baptizes us into His death and resurrection in which He is hanging onto us by His words.
Six hundred years before the event Luke records today, God warned His people through the Prophet Jeremiah; "You shall say to them, Thus says the LORD: When men fall, do they not rise again? If one turns away, does he not return? Why then has this people turned away in perpetual backsliding? They hold fast to deceit; they refuse to return … . Everyone turns to his own course, like a horse plunging headlong into battle. … but my people know not the just decrees of the LORD. … "How can you say, 'We are wise, and the law of the LORD is with us'? But behold, the lying pen of the scribes has made it into a lie. The wise men shall be put to shame; they shall be dismayed and taken; behold, they have rejected the word of the LORD, so what wisdom is in them? … from the least to the greatest everyone is greedy for unjust gain; from prophet to priest, everyone deals falsely. They have healed the wound of my people lightly, saying, 'Peace, peace,' when there is no peace.” (Jeremiah 8:4-11)
Jesus echoes Jeremiah and laments: “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!” (Lk. 13:34)
Because of all 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 will have to endure … because He knows the devil has you targeted — "When [Jesus] drew near and saw the city of God," Jesus wept for Jerusalem." That includes all her citizens past, present, and future — just as He had also wept for Lazarus before calling him out of the tomb back into the world of trial and tribulation. And just as He wept for Jerusalem that day He wept also for you and the trials, tribulations, and death you must face like every one of His dearly beloved and baptized saints.
There is more for us to learn from our Gospel today and never forget. It is something that every Lutheran pastor is taught, something with which he and his congregation must agree, and something which shapes everything we do in our Lutheran churches. I am quoting words from the Smalcald Articles of our Lutheran Confessions. They apply to us, today.
"… 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, … . (Sound familiar?)
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, … ." (How true!) [SMALCALD ARTICLES: PART III ARTICLE VIII.3, CONFESSION]
So to protect us from the false prophets, from our own enthusiastic feelings, and even from the very devil himself, Luther’s preaching on this Gospel lesson is: "Christ drove out the merchants that pandered to base appetites, and made room for His Word." Why? Because "The things that make for peace are never to be found in the visions, feelings, or works of men — no matter how pious and well-intentioned. They are only to be found in the express will of God as revealed in His Holy Word and sacraments, and confessed in the teaching and practice of His Holy Christian Church. And they are certainly never up for sale.
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 Holy 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 ONE Holy Christian APOSTOLIC Church.
- Always forgiving your sins and giving you the name of the One Who Is Faithful so you can always be hanging on His words for eternal life.
In the name of the Father, and of the X Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Amen
- D. G.
[8-21-2022 REVGFF3 @ OUR SAVIOR EVANGELICAL LUTHERAN CHURCH, 4000 Wallings Rd. North Royalton, Ohio 44133 – covering for Rev. Jonathan McCall]