“Jesus is Your Redemption” Sermon / Luke 21:5-28 / Pr. Ted A. Giese / Sunday November 17th 2019 / Season Of Pentecost / Mount Olive Lutheran Church
Mount Olive Lutheran Church / Rev. Ted A. Giese / Sunday November 17th 2019 / Luke 21:5-28 / "Jesus is Your Redemption"
And while some were speaking of the temple, how it was adorned with noble stones and offerings, [Jesus] said, “As for these things that you see, the days will come when there will not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down.” And they asked Him, “Teacher, when will these things be, and what will be the sign when these things are about to take place?” And He said, “See that you are not led astray. For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am He!’ and, ‘The time is at hand!’ Do not go after them. And when you hear of wars and tumults, do not be terrified, for these things must first take place, but the end will not be at once.”
Then He said to them, “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be great earthquakes, and in various places famines and pestilences. And there will be terrors and great signs from heaven. But before all this they will lay their hands on you and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors for my name's sake. This will be your opportunity to bear witness. Settle it therefore in your minds not to meditate beforehand how to answer, for I will give you a mouth and wisdom, which none of your adversaries will be able to withstand or contradict. You will be delivered up even by parents and brothers and relatives and friends, and some of you they will put to death. You will be hated by all for My name's sake. But not a hair of your head will perish. By your endurance you will gain your lives.
“But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation has come near. Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains, and let those who are inside the city depart, and let not those who are out in the country enter it, for these are days of vengeance, to fulfill all that is written. Alas for women who are pregnant and for those who are nursing infants in those days! For there will be great distress upon the earth and wrath against this people. They will fall by the edge of the sword and be led captive among all nations, and Jerusalem will be trampled underfoot by the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.
“And there will be signs in sun and moon and stars, and on the earth distress of nations in perplexity because of the roaring of the sea and the waves, people fainting with fear and with foreboding of what is coming on the world. For the powers of the heavens will be shaken. And then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. Now when these things begin to take place, straighten up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.”
Let us pray: May the words of my mouth and the meditations of all our hearts be acceptable in Your sight O Lord. Amen.
Grace peace and mercy to you from God our Father and from our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Good Christian Friends. Jesus' disciples want to know about The End. The End of the Temple. The End of the World. The End of Everything.
In the Old Testament, which they were familiar with, they may well have learned these words from Ecclesiastes, where Solomon writes "Better is the end of a thing than its beginning." But the picture Jesus paints is not in its entirety more marvellous than the beginning of everything, on the face of it, it is actually a horrifying picture. It is a picture of destruction. This leaves us with another question: is it ever a good thing for something to be destroyed? Could it be a good thing for the Temple to be destroyed? About the Temple Jesus says, "the days will come when there will not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down.” When does this happen?
The last time that the Physical building of the Temple was destroyed was in the year 70 AD almost 40 years after Jesus says these words recorded in the Gospel of St. Luke the Physician. That 30/40 years is nearly a generation, as counted by time, Jesus Himself concerning these things said "Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all has taken place," This is the generation that He is speaking in, the one Jesus is preaching in as He stands in the Temple: Jesus is saying that it is the generation that will see these things, that will see the people of Israel rise up against Rome, and will see the Roman Empire come in its power against Israel. And leading up to this these followers of Jesus will be persecuted, they will be delivered up to the synagogues and prisons, they will be brought before kings and governors for Jesus' name's sake. They will have to stand firm on His Word, on the Word of God as found in the Old Testament and they will need to do this in the face of cultural opposition, in the face of people who hate them. They will be given opportunity to bear witness about Jesus. And what they don't know is that the main and central thing that they will bear witness about is just about to happen. Jesus Himself will be delivered over to the synagogue of the Sanhedrin, He will be brought before the governor Pontius Pilate the representative of the Emperor the King of Rome, Jesus will be beaten and mocked by the Roman soldiers in the prison while awaiting execution. Everyone will fall away from Him even those closest to Him and He will be crucified. Peter, James and John, and all the twelve, apart from Judas, will all testify to this following the Resurrection of Jesus on that First Easter Morning. They along with people like St. Luke and St. Paul will also testify to this in the years leading up to the year 70 AD and some like St. John would be alive after the year 70 and the destruction of the Temple, and they will continue to testify about this and the truth of Jesus.
This talk of the destruction of the Temple was just the sort of thing to get everyone in Jerusalem hopping mad. Historically it had been the physical embodiment of the promise of God to His people that He would be present with them. It was the place where God promised to be present. No Temple, no presence of God. The destruction of the Temple for the Jewish person of that day was like The End of the World itself.
Keep this all in mind and remember that Jesus had another thing to say about the Temple and this is as important to you today as it was to the disciples and to all the people in Jerusalem that day. Today's reading comes after Jesus' Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem and His cleaning out of the Temple, His turning over of the money changer's tables. In John's Gospel as Jesus is turning over the tables some of the Jewish people confront Him and demand a sign saying, “What sign do you show us for doing these things?” Jesus answered them, “Destroy this Temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” The Jews then said, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and will you raise it up in three days?” But [Jesus] was speaking about the Temple of His body. When therefore [Jesus] was raised from the dead, His disciples remembered that [Jesus] had said this, and they believed the Scripture and the word that Jesus had spoken."
Luke's Gospel describes the crucifixion like this, "It was now about the sixth hour, and there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour, while the sun's light failed. And the curtain of the Temple was torn in two. Then Jesus, calling out with a loud voice, said, “Father, into your hands I commit My spirit!” And having said this [Jesus] breathed His last." About the same things Matthew's Gospel says, "And behold, the curtain of the Temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. And the earth shook, and the rocks were split. The tombs also were opened. And many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised, and coming out of the tombs after His resurrection they went into the holy city [Jerusalem] and appeared to many."
On the one hand a lot of what Jesus says in our Gospel reading from Luke 21 today sounds like stuff happening at the crucifixion, but then it's not just about the Temple of Jesus' Body, it's also about the Physical building of the Temple and yet it is also about The Last Day, the final Judgment when Jesus will come in a cloud with power and great glory. The picture Jesus paints with His words is of the cross, the Temple's destruction in AD 70, and of The Last Times: The Day when we as Christians are to straighten up and raise our heads, because our redemption is drawing near. This is the beauty of The Last Day which supersedes the beauty of the first day, on The Last Day the body of your temple will be raised up in the resurrection of the dead and it will never be destroyed again. Saint Paul says of your body as a Christian, "do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God?" "Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ?" So if the Temple of Jesus' Body was raised up even though it was destroyed at the cross as it received the wages of sin, as it died there nailed to the wood, your body which is a Temple of the Holy Spirit and which is a member of Christ's body will likewise in Christ be raised up on The Last Day. Ah, and now you find yourself smack dab in the middle of this Gospel Reading!
Where is God's promise that God will do this for you? Around 20 years after Jesus' death, resurrection and ascension, Saint Paul in his letter to the Roman Christians writes "Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? We were buried therefore with [Jesus] by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ [Jesus] was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have been united with [Jesus] in a death like His, we shall certainly be united with [Jesus] in a resurrection like His." This is your gift in Baptism, you now are given to stand firm in the face of The End, in the face of your physical death, in the face of any trouble because just as Jesus was raised from the dead you will be raised too. Jesus, as He came forth from the grave glorified, ensures that you will come forth in glory from your grave too. You therefore with the disciples and with all Christians can settle it in your minds to trust in Jesus who will give you a mouth and wisdom, which none of your adversaries will be able to withstand or contradict.
And now you see how the end of a thing can be more beautiful than the beginning. As beautiful as it is to see a baby, or a child or an adult be baptised more beautiful to the Christian is the Cross of Christ, more beautiful again will be The Last Day when the dead will be raised in glory and we all who are forgiven will walk into heaven were no evil will befall us. So why doesn’t That Beautiful Day come now? It could, and can, all that God the Father needed to accomplish in His Son Jesus has been fulfilled, “it is finished” as Jesus said, however St. Peter reminds us in his 2nd Epistle that the Lord has not fulfill His promise because He “is patient toward you [and all the people of the world], not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.” Yes with every day that God the Father is patient toward the World more people are brought to faith in Christ Jesus by the work of the Holy Spirit and are drawn into His Church, every day there are people who return to the Lord their God and turn away from those things that have damaged and threatened their faith in Jesus. Yes some of you may believe that you are ready for The Last Day to come but news flash you will not be the only person in heaven. Peter concludes his thought by reminding us that even though things seem slow in the moment now, “The Day of The Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed.”
What are we to do then as we wait for That Day? What are we to do when we see the good gifts of God squandered around us, when we see what He gives to us being destroyed by greed and selfishness and sin of every kind? What do we do when we hear of so many of our brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus, fellow baptised children of God, who have had the temple of their bodies destroyed by martyrdom? What do we do? We rejoice in their faith. We seek to be Christ's hands and feet where suffering has entered uninvited into the lives of our neighbours, sometimes even from afar, and help where we can, we offer up our prayers and we trust that God will take the tragedies we produce and make from them something good, for "we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose." All these things we do not to gain merit or salvation, for it is Christ who gains merit and salvation for you, but rather we do these things because our neighbor needs it. Our fellow Christian needs it, our enemies need it, the World needs it.
When the Roman Empire came in and destroyed the Temple in Jerusalem in the year 70AD something good came out of it, God the Father gave the Jewish people an opportunity to take their eyes off of the Temple and put them on Jesus His Son, their messiah, the long awaited Salvation, to put their eyes on Jesus the author and perfecter of their faith. The animal sacrificial system of the Old Testament came to an end and the people were given the opportunity to look to Jesus whose death at the Cross was the last and final sacrifice "since [Jesus] did this once for all when He offered up Himself," in His crucifixion. They were given the opportunity to trust in the real presence of God, not just in the physical Temple in Jerusalem, but now in the Lord's Super, in Holy Communion, the body and blood of Christ given for them for the forgiveness of their sins.
In Christ Jesus God the Father has forgiveness for you whenever you get anxious about The End of the World, the end of your life or even when you find yourself anxious in the midst of trouble. When you have wavered in your trust in God, God the Father comes to you with His Son Jesus and brings you His forgiveness, ask and you shall receive. Take heart therefore when you find yourself in trouble, when you face The End of Days, when you are on your death bed remember the words of your Lord Jesus, "when these things begin to take place, straighten up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.” Jesus is your redemption. Jesus redeems you. He did this at the cross, He does this in your baptism, He does this every day and every hour and every minute of your life and He will do it on The Last Day when He returns in power and great glory! Amen.
Let us pray:
Lord have mercy on us, Christ have mercy on us, Lord have mercy on us, “take our minds and think through them, take our lips and speak through them, take our hearts and set them on fire; for the sake of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, Amen.
 Ecclesiastes 7:8
 The Works of Flavius Josephus. The Wars of the Jews Containing The Interval Of About Three Years. From The Taking Of Jerusalem By Titus To The Sedition At Cyrene. Volume 1, Book VII. Chapter 1.1, Baker Book House 1974, pg 473.
 Luke 21:32
 What does AD mean? AD is short for Anno Domini, Latin for "in the year of the LORD"
 2 Chronicles 7
 Luke 19:28-40
 Luke 19:45-48
 John 2:18-22
 Luke 23:44-46
 Luke 23:44-46
 Matthew 27:51-53
 1 Corinthians 6:19
 1 Corinthians 6:15
 Romans 6:3-5
 John 19:30
 2 Peter 3:9–10
 Romans 8:28
 Hebrews 12:2
 Hebrews 7:27