What Do You See as You Follow Jesus? ( March 17, 2019)

Sermon Text: Luke 13:31-35

Pastor Daniel Schmidt

At the beginning of his ministry here on this earth, the Savior found 12 men and simply said to them, “Follow me.”  And for three years these 12 men followed the Savior as his disciples.  During the Lenten season, you and I have the opportunity to join the disciples and follow our Savior.  As we do, what do you see?  What do you see as you follow Jesus?  Based on God’s Word from today’s Gospel Lesson, we see his willingness to complete his mission because of his love for all people; because of his love for you and me.

God’s Word before us today shows us that the Savior’s mission to save the world from sin had a definite time table. That is what Jesus was referring to when he said,  “I will drive out demons and heal people today and tomorrow, and on the third day I will reach my goal.  In any case, I must keep going today and tomorrow and the next day–for surely no prophet can die outside Jerusalem!”  Jesus Christ, as true God, was in complete control of the events taking place around him. No one was going to force him to complete his mission.  He would do this willingly, on his own time schedule.

How often don’t you and I find ourselves complaining about the Lord’s time table?  Far too often you and I would like to “force our God’s hand”, to move things along according to OUR time table.  We make demands of our Savior-God like: “Heal my loved one NOW!”  “Get me better NOW!”  “Get my job situation figured out NOW!”  “Straighten things out at home and in my family NOW!”

It is important for you and me to remember that all the sinful complaining which you and I do about our Lord’s timetable, really spits in the face of our Savior.  It is sin.  It is a sin anytime you and I think we know what is better for us, rather than relying on the timetable of our loving Lord.

Some see the passing of time as meaning that the Lord doesn’t care.  But what does God’s Word tell us about our Savior-God’s timetable?  In 2 Peter 3:9 we read, “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promises, as some understand slowness.  He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.”  This is the same Lord Jesus who kept his promise to sinful mankind.  He willingly completed the mission he was sent to carry out. Our Savior knew what was going to happen in Jerusalem, yet we don’t hear him grumbling or complaining.  We don’t read anywhere in the four Gospels where Jesus attempted to “run for the hills” or that he tried to escape somewhere to get as far away from Jerusalem as possible.

No, according to his own timetable, Jesus willingly went to Jerusalem to suffer and die.  He did this to accomplish the goal of winning the forgiveness of all sins, including those times when you and I question his timetable. As New Testament Christians, you and can’t help but see the words of our Savior here as a reference to his glorious resurrection three days after his death on the cross.  On Easter Sunday the mission would be complete.  The goal reached.  The forgiveness of sins won.  The resurrection of Jesus is our guarantee of that.  What do you see as your follow Jesus?You see his willingness to complete his mission.

In Romans, chapter 5, God the Holy Spirit says through the pen of Paul, “Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die.  But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”  Perhaps you and I would be willing to give up our life for someone who was good to us, who treated us with kindness and love.  But, how many of us would be willingly to suffer and die for one of our enemies? Yet, that is exactly what our Savior, Jesus Christ, did for each and everyone of us.  The Bible teaches us that by nature, because of our inherited sinfulness and our sinful thoughts, words and actions, you and I enemies of the one true God, deserving only his wrath and punishment.  However, what do you see as you follow Jesus? You see his love for all people; you see his love for you.

It is interesting to note that “Jerusalem” means “city of peace.”  However, time after time in the Old Testament we read about the people living in the “city of peace” killing the messengers of that peace. And when the One came who could offer everlasting peace between mankind and God, the majority in Jerusalem hated him. They rejected him.  Jesus’ own words show the tragic state many of the people of Jerusalem were living in, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing!”

Here we see the clear rejection of the promised Messiah by many of the people living in Jerusalem.  What is the result of this rejection?  Jesus says, “Look, your house is left to you desolate.”  This prophecy of the Lord was fulfilled just about 40 years later, when the Roman army came to the city of Jerusalem and destroy it.

Finally, Jesus says, “I tell you, you will not see me again until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.’”  Is Jesus here referring to Palm Sunday, when he would come into Jerusalem with a crowd praising him?  Or, as some commentators of the Bible have suggested, is Jesus referring to the end of the world, when he will come again in all his glory and all people will give him praise and acknowledge him as the one and only Lord and Savior.  Certainly we can see Jesus’ words here as referring to both events.  As one author has written, “Only those who would acknowledge Jesus as their Lord, who would call him blessed, would see him again as their only Savior from sin. The rest would be doomed to destruction.  This took place on Palm Sunday.  This will take place at the end of the world when Jesus comes again in glory.”

Are you and I ever like the unbelieving people of Jerusalem?  Do you and I ever find ourselves walking away from the Lord instead of coming to him?  Your sinful nature and mine wants nothing to do with Jesus.  In fact, our sinful natures, the sinful world around us and the devil himself want you and me to get as far away from the Lord as possible.

When you and I make excuses for not coming to worship, when you and I fill up our days with so many other activities that we don’t spend any of our time in the Word of our God, when you and I fail to go to him in prayer, we aren’t coming to the Savior, rather we are running away from him.  If this continues, the tragic result may be falling into stubborn unbelief.  If this happens we will push Jesus away and reject him just like many of the people living in Jerusalem.  Then we will hear the Savior say to us, “How often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing!  Look, your house is left to you desolate.”

But, thanks be to our Savior-God who continually reaches out to you and me in his love!  In love for you and me, Jesus comes to us time after time, proclaiming the Law of God to show you and me our sinfulness and the destruction that you and I are headed for.  In love, the Savior proclaims his soul-saving Gospel message of complete payment for all your sins and mine through his perfect blood shed on the cross.  In love, the Savior calls you and me to his side.  It is the deep desire of our loving Lord and Savior that all people, including you and me, enjoy the saving blessings of his completed mission.  In love for all sinners, in love for sinners like you and me, Jesus won the forgiveness of all sins.  By the grace of God, as we follow Jesus you and I see his love for all people, and join in that song of praise, “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.”

As you and I continue to follow our Savior, Jesus Christ, this Lenten season, we will quickly come to the end of our journey for this year.  When we do, you and I will be able to look back at all that Jesus was willing to do to put you and me in a right relationship with our Father in heaven.  My dear Christian friends, each and every day, during this Lenten season and in the days beyond, open your Bibles and follow Jesus.  What do you see as you follow Jesus?  You see his willingness to complete his mission because of his love for you.  Amen.