The Second Sunday in Lent (3/13/2022)


Ps. 4; Jer. 26:8-15; Philippians 3:17—4:1; Luke 13:31-35.


Jerusalem, ‘… [I]t is impossible that a prophet perish outside Jerusalem.’ “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who have been sent to her, how often I have desired to gather your children in the way a hen gathers her own brood under her wings, but you were not willing. Behold, your house is being abandoned to you. But I say to you, you will surely not see me until you say, ‘blessed the Coming One in the name of the Lord.’” (vv. 33-35).


After besting Satan’s wilderness temptations, Jesus reentered the Land, God’s new Israel and Christ. His journey would take him into Jerusalem, and terminate on the cross outside her gates, the place of the devil’s “opportune time” (Lk. 4:13).


In the desert the devil had transported Jesus atop the Jerusalem temple, marking it “The Holy City”; but today Jesus’ lament over Jerusalem rather invites us to his cross where he will be invested, new Temple of God, the place of unique sacrifice in fleshly innocence but for the weight of our sin.


Thus, here we are in Lent, both the beginning and coming end of Jesus’ earthly journey; Jesus had gathered followers for his assault to regain from Satan the heart and soul of Israel in the Land, Jerusalem. Jesus is the Blessed One of tears for those who will reject his rescue (cf. Lk. 6:21), O Jerusalem, Jerusalem … I have desired to gather your children in the way a hen gathers her own brood under her wings, but you were not willing.”


Jeremiah, the “Prophet of Lamentation”, preached Jerusalem to repentance for its manifold distain toward God; warning that she could not avert judgment simply by relying on being “The Holy City”, the place of God’s temple presence.


St. Paul is an “Apostle of Tears” preached a similar Sermon to the church at Philippi over those who have fallen out of their baptismal way, “For many… I… tell you even with tears, walk as enemies of the cross of Christ” (Phil. 3:18).


Lovers who still long for another vacillate in their relation. The one beloved may react with indifference, especially to overtures perceived as lacking in reserve or proportionality. Love for a time is played at, a game of preliminaries, until perchance true union occurs and produces children, when love blooms to maturity that desires and gives unconditionally.


It may be a bit dicey to do theology from the perspective of human behavior; that said, God, who is wholly other from his creation, reveals his nature with the incarnation of his Son, joining himself to men and women by the absolute of the HS’ love through Christ.


God in Christ is the non-proportional, extreme Lover of men. He reacts to human ennui with love that culminated at the extremity of the cross; the abandonment of his only Son bearing the sin of the world. At one and the same time God also abandons those who are offended by Jesus’ outstretched enfolding arms for unreserved love (Lk. 23:39-43).


Jesus warned Jerusalem, “Behold, your house is being abandoned to you. But I say to you, you will surely not see me until you say, ‘blessed the Coming One in the name of the Lord.’” Jerusalem was about to be confronted by God’s unreserved love in Christ’s abandonment and ingathering. For those offended at the extremity of Jesus’ sacrifice; so also, Jerusalem would be more offended by God’s departure from the old temple.


St. Paul identifies “Christians” who abandon God’s absolute love in Christ saying, they “walk as enemies of the cross” with the result, that absent a gracious return to baptismal repentance, “Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame with minds set on earthly things” (Phil. 3:18, 19).


Repentant faith is continually worked by Baptism and Spirit, thus are we built up to be God’s New Jerusalem, united and one with his new Temple, “the secret place” (NKJV, Mt. 6:6, 18) of Jesus’ crucified and risen flesh and blood present to our Father and delivered for the saints.


Today’s Gradual directs us to the “graven image” over our Altar, from whence proceeds our Holy Communion, the extreme love formerly hidden in ages long past, “[O come, let us fix our eyes on] Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God” (Heb. 12:2).


Having focused on Jesus in word, the congregation is now able to participate in the sung words of consecration, acclaiming her new sight in the new creation’s feeding, to say, “Blessed is He, blessed is He, blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord” (Sanctus). Amen.


pem.