This was my sermon today, a blend of Jesus words from Luke 13:31-35, poetry from the book of Lamentations, some history, and my imagination–––
Woe to you Pharisees, who think that a threat of death will deter me from my purpose. Do you think me like Jonah, running from God’s voice as if I wasn’t destined to descend into the belly of darkness? I will not be swayed by the name of Herod Antipas. nothing more than a puppet of the Emperor Caesar, weak son of a despicable father who murdered innocent children in an attempt to do away with any rival to his power at my birth. Have you not ears, have you not eyes, you who call yourselves men of God? Do you not realize that no power on earth can silence God’s message? Return to that fox Herod and say unto him that though I would not set foot Sepphoris and Tiberias, cities built for worship of him, that Jerusalem will always belong to God. Jerusalem is God’s to build up and to destroy.
Jerusalem, home to those who silence and kill prophets, it is there that I will complete the work given to me, there that I will complete the Exodus of deliverance begun by my father through Abraham and Moses. Do not think that I will run from you, Pharisees, Sadducees, and the Romans who sent you. You say you are about the work of the Lord, but you are so diluted and polluted, you don’t know what it is to observe the laws of love and righteousness.
Nothing will keep me from my appointed task. The angry mob from my hometown of Nazareth could not push me off a cliff, neither will you. I will not be silent, even though the vile fox beheaded my cousin John. You tell Herod that this message is unstoppable. It is he who should fear for his life the day I set foot in Jerusalem.
Today and tomorrow I am doing my father’s work in the countryside, casting out demons and curing diseases, setting the captive mind and body free. And then the day after that, I will enter Jerusalem to face my death and become the Lord’s instrument for the ultimate act of healing. Jerusalem, Jerusalem, that day is coming soon, pay attention, read the signs.
O Abraham, O Jacob, O Israel, O Zion, Judah and Jerusalem, how often have your ears and hearts been closed? O City of David that destroys the prophets, Jerusalem where Jehoiakim struck down Uriah with his sword and threw him in a common grave, where Jeremiah was struck and left to die in a muddy cistern. O Terrible city that cut Isaiah in two. We have been singing lament over you for centuries, issuing warnings, proclaiming God’s judgment, offering plans for reconciliation, paths for redemption.
O desolate city whose foes have become masters, whose enemies prosper because of the multitude of your transgressions. How I brood over you my people, remembering the days of your slavery, and of your wandering, and all the precious gifts that were yours in the days before your downfall.
How I long to gather you together, like little chicks, to stretch out my wings and offer you the shelter and comfort of the Most High, and yet despite your groaning you will not come to me. You search for bread, but not for the Lord. For these things I weep, my eyes flow with tears, my heart is wrung within me at your rebellion.
O people of Zion, sit on the ground in silence, throw dust upon your faces, put on sackcloth, bow your heads and rend your hearts, for vast is the sea of your ruin. Your house is left to you. You have been your own undoing. Cry aloud to the Lord! Pour out your heart like water and lift your hands to him, for you will not come under my shadow.
O Jerusalem, trapped in arrogance, fear and unbelief, soon everything that is written about the Son of Man by the prophets will be accomplished. Your very foundations will shake and the curtain will tear in two. The time is coming, and sooner than you think, when I will pass through your gates and God will have the final word. You will line the roadside, waving branches and shouting, “Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord.” You will greet me like a king about to assume his throne, unaware of the events this triumphant entry will set in motion.
O Jerusalem, the day is fast approaching when I shall be nailed to a cross and the sky will turn black. I say to you once more, before it is too late, “Come under the shelter of my wing.”
Do you yet again refuse?
O my people, and my God, why have thou forsaken me?