Tag Archive | Hebrews 13:5

Jesus Wept

(Luke 19:28-44)

Today we celebrate Palm Sunday, the beginning of the commemoration of the last days of Jesus’ life, culminating in His resurrection after his trial and crucifixion by the Roman government.

Jesus was headed to Jerusalem; there was nothing that would get in His way. Even though He has stopped and ministered to people, he has never lost sight of His final goal. As he completed the final days of His life, He had been healing the sick, feeding the hungry, returning sight to the blind, raising the dead and teaching the people about the love of God.

And now, as he approached Jerusalem, he was met by crowds who saw him as the savior that would stop the oppression of the Roman. He was greeted in a ‘triumphal entry’; people were lining the road, cheering for Him. They waved palm branches crying

    “Hosanna”, (Matthew 21:9)

laid their cloaks on the road and shouted:

    “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven, and glory in the highest heaven!” (John 19:38)

There was intense anticipation that He was going to do a wonderful thing – they were going to be free of the Roman officials. They had been promised by God that someone would come to save them. Everyone in Israel had been taught that the Messiah would be enthroned as King in Jerusalem. The Old Testament make it very clear that the coming King would come to Jerusalem to establish His kingdom. Since the Garden of Eden, all of heaven and earth have been waiting for that moment when the Messiah would enter Jerusalem for the last time, establishing the Kingdom of God.

But, Jesus knew that the kingdom He was to establish was not of this earth, and the people did not understand.

That Palm Sunday Jesus began his final walk to Jerusalem. He stopped on the hill overlooking Jerusalem called the Mount of Olives where he had previously preached the Sermon on the Mount, looked over Jerusalem and

    he wept over it. (Luke 19:41)

Some of the people in the crowd on that first Palm Sunday thought that they were witnessing a revolution. They were certain that they would be saved from the Roman government. They were cheering for the promised Messiah.

But those cheers turned to jeers by the end of the week; Jesus was turned over to the Romans for trial, found guilty of trying to overthrow the government and rejected by the people for the life of Barabbas.

If someone did that to us, we would be angry and not care what happened to those people. But Jesus was the perfect man, forgiving each of them as a loving parent would forgive a naughty child. He was disappointed, sorrowful and moved to tears.

Do you know, there are only three instances in the Bible where Jesus is said to have wept?

  1. The first time is when he travels to the house of Mary and Martha after Lazarus has died and been buried for four days. He was so touched by their sorrow that He raised Lazarus from the dead. (John 11:38-45)
  2. We just heard that Jesus wept before He entered Jerusalem for the last time in Luke 19:41. He wept then because He knew that the people did not understand about the Kingdom of God, and men, women and children were going to continue to suffer. He knew that, ultimately, on Maundy Thursday the people would turn him over to the Roman government to be crucified.
  3. The last time He wept was when He was praying in the Garden of Gethsemane on the night of His betrayal. He praying that He would be strong enough to undertake the challenge He had in front of Him (Hebrews 5:7).

There is a common theme through these three instances when Jesus wept – His love of the people and sorrow that they did not understand about the Kingdom of God. They did not understand that the eternal life one finds through the resurrection of Jesus is the peace of the Kingdom of God.

The people of Israel rejected Him. We reject Him when we don’t follow His teachings. Yet, Jesus wept

    for us

    for you and me,

    each one of us.

In spite of our rejection of Him, Jesus still cares for all of us.

The events of Holy Week tell us that we are still saved by his crucifixion and resurrection.

That He had promised us

    “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5)

So as we move through this week of celebration, betrayal, death and resurrection, let us remember this assurance from God:

    Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am thy God; I will strengthen you; yea, I will help you; yea, I will hold you in my right hand (Isaiah 41:10).

Let us pray:

God of unfailing love, we come before you on this day with thankful and joyous hearts because your love knows no bounds. No boundaries, limits, or obstacles—including those of our own making—can thwart your loving kindness from following us all the days of our lives. Yet during this week, your story of passion mirrors to us how we have tested your love and spurned your compassion. As we enter into Holy Week fill us with strength and gratitude and with the assurance that you are with us, from now through eternity.
Amen
 
 
Delivered at In The Garden, Trinity Episcopal Church on Capitol Square, Columbus, OH; 20 March 2016

Do Not Be Afraid

Luke 3:7-18

We just survived the Thanksgiving holiday – cornucopias, fall harvests, turkey and pumpkin pie, corn stalks, and scarecrows — symbols associated with the holiday we celebrated only seventeen days (and 17 pounds on my
hips!) ago. Even before Halloween and Thanksgiving ended, holiday colors had changed. Orange pumpkin lights were replaced by white or multi-colored twinkling lights.

And now we are rapidly moving to Christmas Eve and the birth of the Christ Child. Frosties begin to adorn yards and rooftops. The Grinch Who Stole Christmas’ inflatable green body, topped with a red Santa hat, sits a few feet away from a lighted, plastic Nativity scene. Halloween candies have been removed from the shelves, replaced by candy canes and red and green wrapped Hershey kisses.

We hear “Happy Holidays!”, and Christmas carols assault our ears everywhere we go.

These four weeks of Advent prior to Christmas Eve are supposed to be a time of reflection and anticipation – waiting for the arrival of that small baby who would save the entire world as an adult. We should have ‘dreams of sugar plums in our heads’ and humming Christmas carols as we move through the days until Christmas.

But in recent weeks, unbelievable acts of violence have become normal. From Paris and Syria to Colorado and California, our nightly news centers on the daily terrorism which has raised our fears. Gun violence has led most of us to wonder aloud whether anything can be done, or if the all world had gone nuts. We have had more mass murders (4,052 as of last week) than we have had days in this year. There are political candidates who want to either stop people from entering the country, branding those who are not ‘Christian’ with numbers, or exporting
anyone who does not look and think like them. We hear from some conservative Evangelicals that the end of the world is not far away.

Instead of anticipation of Christmas Eve, we are shocked and immobilized by the extreme violence and cruelty that we are hearing about every day.

Advent is supposed to be a time of hope – hope for a better world. . . for peace, for justice and for loving one another. And we are halfway through the Advent Season; we should be waiting with anticipation for Christmas – the renewal of the hope for the world.

During this upcoming Christmas season, we had expected to enjoy times with families and friends and festivities and joy. But those expectations have been shattered this year. We could throw our hands up in despair; we could lament over a shattered world. We could grieve what we are losing, the dreams that have been shattered.

Or we could pray fervently for courage and hope.

In Luke 3:7-18, John the Baptist warns those he had just baptized that they were going to face adversity – things were not going to be ‘a bed of roses’. So what might John the Baptist say to us today in the wake of the refugee crisis in Syria, the attacks in Paris and Beirut, mass shootings in Colorado and California, and the daily violence that fills our lives?

John the Baptist does offer us a ray of hope. He had some sound advice for the people of that day and for us too. He did not feel the need to be politically correct; he named the sins of racism and sexism and fear of ‘the other’. And he blamed those responsible for these sins.

But he also said:

    “I baptize you with water; but one who is more powerful than I is coming; I am not worthy to untie the thong of his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.” (Luke 3:16)

And with the baptism of the Holy Spirit, God promised us:

    “Never, Never, Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” (Hebrews 13:5)

And Jesus, when he sent the disciples out into the world told them, and us:

    “You can be sure that I will be with you always. I will continue with you until the end of the world.” (Matthew 28:20)

So no matter what is going on in the world, no matter how discouraged we may feel, no matter how we are sure the world has forever been changed by the violence and injustice around us, we can be reassured that:

    “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me..” (John 14:1)

We are always in God’s presence and hands, loved as children of God:

    Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. (John 14:27)

Let us pray:

Compassionate God and Father of us all, we are horrified at violence in so many parts of the world. It seems that none are safe, and some are terrified. Hold back the hands that kill and maim, turn around the hearts that hate. Grant instead your strong Spirit of Peace – the peace that passes our understanding but changes lives. Amen.
 
 
Delivered at In The Garden, Trinity Episcopal Church on Capitol Square, Columbus, OH; 13 December 2015