Summary: This sermon calls the congregation away from triumphalism into a consideration of God's offer of salvation and redemption to humankind through acceptance of Jesus Christ as personal Lord and Savior.
4-1-12 Palm Sunday Luke 19:29-44
The title of my sermon today is “Why Was Jesus Crying on Palm Sunday?”
There was an item on the news this week about a preacher down south, I’m not just sure but I think it was somewhere in Georgia, who was arrested because of bothering people in a public parking lot by asking them if they were saved and preaching in a way that disturbed people. The authorities explained that if the preacher had only applied for a city permit, he would have been allowed to preach in designated areas. I’m not sure why any preacher would find it necessary to apply for a government license to preach but I suppose the whole issue was one of disturbing people. I guess it can be dangerous for preachers to disturb people. That being said, I’m going to wade in up to my chin and possibly disturb you today by asking if you have really and truly accepted God’s gift of salvation, and if you have really and truly totally committed yourself to God, and if so, if you are bearing fruit in your life?
You know, there is no such thing as a “dying church”, only dying church members. But what most people do not understand is that for a church to be vibrant it must bring in converts.
It is unfortunate that talking about trying to bring in converts causes so much resistance. I guess most people associate the concept with “sheep stealing”, trying to get people to leave the Lutheran Church, for example, and join the United Methodist, or whatever. What most people do not understand is that the vast majority of people in our communities, while nice people, aren’t Christians at all. As the Lord said, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few.” If you understand this you will then understand that seeking to convert people doesn’t really mean trying to get them to change churches, it means trying to get them to accept commit their life to the Lord.
As the joyful Palm Sunday procession neared Jerusalem, Jesus stopped, wept and predicted the destruction of Jerusalem saying, “If you had known, even you, especially in this your day, the things that make for your peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. Days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment around you, surround you and close you in on every side, and level you, and your children within you, to the ground; and they will not leave in you one stone upon another, because you did not know the time of your visitation.”
“Because you did not know the time of your visitation.” Does that statement by the Lord spoken on the first Palm Sunday still mean something today? Does it really? At the time it didn’t mean anything to the people of Jerusalem, and as a result destruction and humiliation fell upon them, horrible, hideous, and complete destruction. According to the Jewish historian Josephus, surrounded by their enemies, starving mothers stole food from their children, and people ate the dead to survive… and this, the Lord says, all because they did not know the time of their visitation.
Do you know the time of your visitation? Or are you, like the people of Jerusalem, rejoicing and giving thanks on this day, but blind to the things that make for your salvation?
Today is the accepted time and the day of your salvation. Though you continue in your sins for a while, rebelling against God, grieving his Spirit, and provoking him to wrath, yet if you turn to God today, you will be saved. Now is the day of your visitation, the accepted time and the day of your salvation!
Jesus said in Matthew 5:25-26, “Agree with your adversary quickly while you are on the way with him, lest your adversary deliver you to the judge, the judge hand you over to the officer, and you be thrown into prison. Assuredly, I say to you, you will by no means get out of there till you have paid the last penny.” Now God is our adversary, for we are by nature enemies to God by reason of sin. But God, in his tender love, has given us terms of reconciliation; agree therefore with him quickly, before his justice has seized you and you be delivered to the devil and cast into the prison of hell, and there lie in extreme and intolerable torment until you have paid the last penny.
Today, this very day, through God’s grace you may be converted. Even though you, by nature, an enemy to God, you may be reconciled. If you are in a state of damnation, you may be brought into a state of salvation. Now is the accepted time, and the Day of Salvation, the time for decision, the day of your visitation. But when once you have shut the door to salvation, and hardened your heart against the Holy Spirit, then your condition will be unalterable forever.