April 14, 2019

Palm Sunday, Sunday April 14, 2019 — Matthew 23:37-39 — Our Broken-hearted King

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Passage: Matthew 23:37-39
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Sermon for Palm Sunday – Sunday April 14, 2019

Calvary/Marquette ● Soli Deo Gloria

Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, to God who alone is wise, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen (1 Timothy 1:17).

Matthew 23:37–39 (NKJV)

37 “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing! 38 See! Your house is left to you desolate; 39 for I say to you, you shall see Me no more till you say, ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD!’ ”

In the Name of Christ, the King,

   Dear Fellow Redeemed in His Blood –

It was only Tuesday of the week we know as Holy Week, but it had already been a long week for Jesus of Nazareth.

 

       Sunday -- On the first day of the week, the day we know as Palm Sunday, the Savior rode into Jerusalem on the colt of a donkey, upon palm branches and people’s coats. Jesus returned to Bethany for the night.

       Monday – On Monday morning, Jesus traveled from Bethany over the Mount of Olives to Jerusalem and the Temple.  On that day the Temple wasn’t a quiet place of prayer but a cacophony of salesmen and money changers.  Jesus drove them out of the temple for a second time in His Ministry and returned to Bethany for the night.

       Tuesday – On Tuesday morning, Jesus again traveled the two miles from Bethany to Jerusalem and the Temple.  He taught in the temple for much of the day, honoring John the Baptist and a widow’s gift to God.  He taught by means of parable and even met a group of Greeks who had traveled to see Him.

But for Jesus, it was also a day of conflict.  The Scribes, Pharisees and Teachers of the Law came or sent others with question after question intended to trick Jesus into discrediting Himself. They asked about taxes, about marriage after the Resurrection, about the Law of God and the Messiah.  He answered every question wisely and they were stumped.

Then Jesus turned to His Disciples and the crowd, offering seven criticisms of the Pharisees (Matthew 23:13-36):

ü  Jesus condemned them for purposely getting in the way of God’s Kingdom and putting on a religious show.

ü  Jesus condemned them for pridefully working to add converts only to mislead them.

ü  Jesus condemned them for their practice of taking oaths by the things of the temple but ignoring the One who was to be glorified in the temple.

ü  Jesus condemned them for carefully giving to God a tenth of every herb while ignoring justice, mercy and faith.

ü  Jesus condemned them pointing out that they were like dirty cups and whitewashed tombs, looking clean on the outside but rotten on the inside.

ü  Finally, Jesus condemned them for rebuilding the tombs of the prophets whom their fathers had killed, while suggesting that they would not have done the same. They were truly blind guides.

 

Then Jesus left the temple for the final time.  He crossed the Kidron Valley and turning back to look at Jerusalem, Jesus spoke the words upon which we meditate this morning.  These are the words of our ‘Broken-Hearted’ King.

So, why is Jesus broken-hearted? 

       He is broken hearted because His Word is rejected and his prophets killed.

       He is broken hearted because His creation is in imminent dangerbut few believe it.

       He is broken hearted because His Worship is replaced with self-worship.

       He is broken hearted because He has been rejected.

Let us pray:

O King most glorious, Savior most humble, hosanna to You, the Son of David, hosanna in the highest! Praise be to your name! Just as you rode into Jerusalem to fulfill God’s promise to save us, so come into our lives and keep us on the way of righteousness. You didn’t waver on Your way to the cross; forgive us when we waver on our way. Because your will is one with the Father’s so make our will one with yours. Glory be to God. Amen!

 

+++++++

Now I’ve never been to our nation’s capital, to Washington DC, but I’m sure that there is more to the city than the White House, the Houses of Government and the familiar monuments.  I would guess that like most every large city in our country, there is are parts of the city that aren’t so nice.

Philadelphia – isn’t only known for the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall. It isn’t always the ‘City of Brotherly Love’ but has developed a reputation for abrasive and even unkind people.  It isn’t just Washington and Philadelphia; Jerusalem also had a bad reputation.

Jerusalem – means ‘city of peace.’ It was the capital city of King David and King Solomon and the place where the Temple of the LORD was built…twice.  Unfortunately, Jerusalem, like Washington, wasn’t only known for the positive things. Jerusalem became known as the burial ground for the Prophets.  When the Prophet Zechariah rebuked the people for breaking God’s Commandments and forsaking Him, they stoned him to death there in the temple courts (2 Chronicles 24:20-21). Jerusalem had become so notorious in that respect (Luke 13:33)!

Jesus lamented this sad history of Jerusalem when He said:

37 “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her!

In the Bible there are a few examples where a name is repeated twice for emphasis.   

Absalom -- When King David heard of the death of his rebel son, Absalom, he cried out in a way that can only be described as anguish and sorrow (2 Samuel 18:33):

 

“O my son Absalom—my son, my son Absalom—if only I had died in your place! O Absalom my son, my son!”

 

Martha – When Martha chided her sister Mary for not helping to serve but sitting at Jesus’ feet, the savior said (Luke 10:41):

“Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things.

Saul – When the Savior Jesus appeared to Saul of Tarsus, calling him to be the Apostle Paul, He said (Acts 9:4):

“Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?”

 

We can’t help but hear this as a sorrowing over Jerusalem’s sad history. Jerusalem, especially the religious leaders of the city often didn’t listen to God’s Word when it was brought to them by the Prophets and others sent by God. When the Promised Savior appeared, their response, sadly was the same (cf. John 1:11).

Jesus wasn’t angry, our King was broken hearted.  Even though He knew – as God – that they would reject Him, it didn’t stop Him from repeatedly visiting Jerusalem and reaching out to them with His Word.

Jesus is still broken hearted today when people reject His Word! He is grieved when His people don’t take the time to come to Him and listen to His Word.  He has given us His Word to make us ‘wise for salvation through faith’ and yet, having received the basics we sometimes think we’ve heard it all and consider ourselves experts.  We come up with excuses why we just can’t come to church or just can’t make Bible Study. God grant us grace that we not be turned from His Word…or lead others to.

Jesus wasn’t only grieved that the Religious Leaders rejected His Word.  He was heart-broken when they also discouraged and dissuaded others from following Him. When the called Him a false prophet, the Savior didn’t respond with anger.  He kept traveling to Jerusalem to preach and to teach that they might be drawn to Him for protection.

If they were lost, it wasn’t because He didn’t want them.  

How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing!

Jesus wanted to gather the children of Jerusalem, not only literal children, but the simple, the common folk of the city. He wanted them to hear Him, to believe and to follow Him.  Sadly, many of them rejected the invitation of God.

The LORD still wants to gather people to His Son.  He gives life because it is His earnest desire that everyone hear about what His Son accomplished for them.  He wants to save everyone from Eternal Death.

How do we know? He tells us in simple language (1 Timothy 2:3-4):

For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior,who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.

 

The LORD didn’t only say it, when His people wandered from His Word and His Ways, He sent His Prophets to call them back to Himself.  He didn’t only send His Prophets, He sent the Great Prophet, His Son.  He sent Him to the Cross to show just how much He truly loves fallen humankind.

The King is broken-hearted because the crown of His Creation is in imminent danger…but few believe it or take it seriously!  Notice the figure that Jesus chose to illustrate His concern for the people of Jerusalem – a hen, a mother bird gathering her chicks under her wings.

Do you know when and why a hen gathers her chicks under her wings?  It’s when there is imminent danger, severe weather or a circling hawk or a dog getting too close to her brood that she gathers her little ones under her wings.

The Danger – For the people of Jerusalem the danger wasn’t the Roman Empire or an earthly army.  For the people of Jerusalem, the danger was their sin and the fact that they were sure that they were either good enough to stand before God, or that they would be accepted merely because they were related to Abraham. The Day of Judgment is coming and unless sins are covered in the blood of Jesus, there is no hope.  It is that urgent.

It is so urgent that God employs sinful human beings to go out into the highways and byways to proclaim Christ.  Pastors, teachers, sunday school teachers, laymen, mothers and fathers and even children are to make known where safety is to be found – in the shadow of and beneath the Cross of Christ.

Our King was also broken-hearted because the Worship of the True God had been replaced with self-worship. Consider then the ominous words to the Jews here recorded:  

 

38 See! Your house is left to you desolate;

What house is Jesus talking about? 

 

Is this house the family of Israel?  Were all of the family of Israel lost to God?  Well, no, while many of those first deceived by the Religious Leaders turned from Him, some did believe in Jesus.  After Pentecost, there was a large assembly of believers in Jerusalem.

Is this house the Temple of the LORD?  It could be, because this may have been the very last day that Jesus spent in the Temple. The long-promised Savior had come to His temple as foretold by the Prophet Malachi (3:1).  The LORD through His Prophets warned about the consequence of not listening to His Word (Deuteronomy 18:15-19).  When the Son of God left the Temple, having taught there for the last time, the True Glory of the Temple departed (Haggai 2:9). When He left it, it became truly empty, just a building of stones.

In 70 AD that not one stone was left upon the other.  It was torn down because they had rejected and missed His Coming (Luke 19:44).

Notice how Jesus describes it – not as His House or the House of His Father – but your house. It had all come to be about them, from the sales of animals, to the collection of taxes, to their pride in the building itself.  It stopped being His House when their worship stopped being about Him.

May God grant that this simple place of worship may always be – in this respect - His House and not our house. 

39 for I say to you, you shall see Me no more till you say, ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD!’ ”

It wasn’t just that Jesus’ time in Jerusalem was coming to an end.  It wasn’t just that this was the last time He would set foot in the Temple of the LORD.  After the events of Good Friday, the people of Jerusalem would see Jesus no more. After the Resurrection, Jesus appeared to His Disciples and to those who believed in Him.  They still recognized Jesus as the Promised Savior, the Messiah – as on Palm Sunday.

What does this mean that you will see me no more till you say, “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD!”?

 

Ø  Judgment Day?  There are some Christians who see these as referring to Judgment Day. On Judgment Day all will have to acknowledge that Jesus is Lord (cf. Philippians 2:9-11). While an interesting idea, these words of Psalm 118 are more than an acknowledgement, they are a greeting and welcoming of the Savior.

Ø  Millennium?  There are other Christians, who twist the Scriptures and see in these words a promise that all the Jews will be converted, and become believers and welcome Jesus at the Judgment.  This is religious fantasy.

       By Faith!  How is it that we see Jesus today?  How is it that we listen to Him speak?  It is by faith, through His Word. Those who believe in Jesus see Him in the Scriptures through the eyes of faith.  The only way that the Jews would see Him again, was if they received Him by faith as the Promised Savior.  Sadly, many still look for another Messiah, another Christ, to greet with these words.

God help us that we never take for granted the priceless gift of faith, faith that trusts in what Christ has done.  It is the greatest of blessings to believe in Jesus as your Savior from sin and deliverer from death.  It is the greatest of blessings to be able to listen to His Word and still learn of Him.

May God grant that we rejoice in the love of our broken-hearted Savior, and share His Word with all!  Amen!