322. Tenth Sunday after Trinity. I.
God, make us partakers of the heavenly riches of thy grace and love. Amen.
Gospel Lesson, Luke 19, 41-48. And when he was come near, he beheld the city, and wept over it, saying, If thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace! but now they are hid from thine eyes. For the days shall come upon thee, that thine enemies shall cast a trench about thee, and compass thee round, and keep thee in on every side, and shall lay thee even with the ground, and thy children within thee; and they shall not leave in thee one stone upon another; because thou knewest not the time of thy visitation. And he went into the temple, and began to cast out them that sold therein, and them that bought; saying unto them, It is written, My house is the house of prayer: but ye have made it a den of thieves. And he taught daily in the temple. But the chief priests and the scribes and the chief of the people sought to destroy him, and could not find what they might do: for all the people were very attentive to hear him.
That which the Lord foretold concerning Jerusalem has been fulfilled to the minutest detail. As the people of Israel “knew not the time of their visitation,” but crucified the Son of God, who came to save them, it was necessary that the judgment of wrath should come upon them, and destruction fall upon them as an armed man. For God is just, and punishes without respect of person all that despise his mercy. Jerusalem and the Jews shall be a powerful warning to us; for they are a living and striking illustration of the truth that God is not mocked, but that every man shall reap that which he has sown.
Let the judgment on Jerusalem and the dispersion of the Jewish people unto this day teach you that the word of God is true, and that his righteous wrath falls surely and heavily on the obdurate.
Above all, however, our gospel lesson shows that the Lord’s heart is full of tender mercy toward his people; and this, again, may in a two-fold manner serve for our edification.
1) God will not have the sinner to be destroyed and die. There is in his heart something which revolts against the thought, and which cries out with loud voice to all the earth and into the soul of every prodigal son: “Repent! This I pray thee with burning heart, with my tears and my blood! Turn to me, and live!” The tears of Jesus over the obdurate city and his words of infinite sadness, “if thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace,” show us beyond contradiction that justice makes the punishment of the impenitent unavoidably necessary; but they also show us with at least equal clearness that God does everything for our salvation, and that the death of a sinner is therefore wholly the sinner’s own fault. These tears and sighs of pain give us the assurance that Jesus most ardently desires to receive sinners. Had Jerusalem, soiled by sin and torn by Satan though it was, but given heed to the Lord’s call, and sought mercy at his feet, he would have taken it to his heart, washed it with his tears and blood, and brought it to the Father; and what rejoicing would there not then have been in heaven! — The Lord still is what he was; he has the same loving heart toward you and me and all.
2) The friends of Jesus must grieve with him over the unhappy fate of the Jewish people. Jesus wept over them; and Paul could wish himself accursed from Christ, if they might thereby be saved; should not, then, their unhappy condition grieve us? Shall we look without concern on the affliction of the daughter of Zion? Shall we not weep over the deep abasement and misery of this glorious chosen people of God? The children of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; the people of whom Christ was, he who is God exalted for evermore; — these people are his most bitter enemies, and curse the God of glory, whose mission it was to bless them, and to make them a blessing to all the earth. And in place of the heavenly heritage of the first-born son, of love and the life eternal, they have chosen mammon and worldly wisdom, and have sold themselves to those things which are not of God. The joy of their heart is ceased; their dance is turned into mourning. The crown is fallen from their head; their heart is faint, their eyes dim. The mountain of Zion is desolate; foxes walk upon it. But hast thou, O Lord, utterly rejected thy people? Is there no more hope for them? There is hope. We will not let thee go; we will weep and pray day and night for Israel.
Lord Jesus, help us to weep as thou didst weep over thine own people. Amen.
O that the Lord’s salvation
Were out of Zion come,
To heal his ancient nation,
To lead his outcasts home!
Let fall thy rod of terror,
Thy saving grace impart;
Roll back the veil of error,
Release the fettered heart.
Let Israel, home returning,
Her lost Messiah see;
Give oil of joy for mourning,
And bind thy church to thee.
323. Tenth Sunday after Trinity. II.
Come, Holy Ghost, and give us thy gifts. Amen.
Epistle Lesson, I Corinthians 12, 2-11. Ye know that ye were gentiles, carried away unto these dumb idols, even as ye were led. Wherefore I give you to understand, that no man speaking by the Spirit of God calleth Jesus accursed: and that no man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost. Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of operations; but it is the same God which worketh all in all. But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal. For to one is given, by the Spirit, the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge, by the same Spirit; to another faith, by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing, by the same Spirit; to another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues: But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will.
Every man who speaks by the Spirit of God exalts Jesus, and proclaims his excellence. If any man say that he has the Spirit of God, and do not with word and deed confess that Jesus Christ is God’s only begotten Son, that man is a liar, and the Spirit of God does not speak through him. But whosoever calls Jesus Lord, and exalts his divine grace and power, and lives in his precepts, and walks in the light; this man has the Holy Ghost; for he can learn this of no other teacher. Here is the keynote by which the Spirit of God is known. The love of the pure and lowly Savior is in his believers. He is their only hope and they belong to him; they live by him, and in him, and for him.
This one and the selfsame Spirit gives impulse to the diverse gifts of the Christians, even as one and the selfsame mind of a man directs the several members of his body. Every believer has his special gifts and his special service to perform in God’s kingdom. The church in Corinth was exceedingly rich in gifts, but was therefore also exposed to many temptations. For, the greater the gifts, the greater the temptations; — temptations to pride, and to contentions, and to opening the door to false spirits. For this reason Paul writes, and gives the Corinthians the above mentioned general rule for the discerning of spirits, and teaches them to serve one another in love and humility with the different gifts. — Our churches also have received their several talents; the gifts have not ceased in the church, but are given it to profit withal. Here are the word of wisdom, and the word of knowledge, and prophecy, and faith; and there may on occasion be the power of working wonders, if the Lord see fit, and it be profitable. If we would but be faithful and make the proper use of that which he has given us, the great diversity of gifts would even now more gloriously appear. But we let the spirit of the world subdue us and prevent the best use of our gifts. The cares of this world hover like swarms of locusts over our hearts, shut out the sun, and devour the growing grain. God help us in these evil times! May the spirit of love unite us, and that condition be brought about in fact concerning which it has been written: “How beautiful shall be the church of God, and how lovely in his sight, when all hearts are united in the one mind and desire to love God and continue to increase in charity!” In this case how wonderfully the diverse gifts of the Spirit would thrive! Are you working for this object, dear reader? In what way are you making use of your talent to this end ? Let me remind you that the virtue known as humility is of the very highest possible importance in causing charity and peace to flourish under one and the selfsame Spirit. O, that we might in the love of Christ bend our every energy and consume our strength for the increase of the church, and adorn all our conduct with his holy humility! Then the gifts would increase and be multiplied.
This we earnestly ask of thee, merciful God; grant us this favor for Jesus’ sake. Amen.
O make the deaf to hear thy word,
And teach the dumb to speak, dear Lord,
Who dare not yet the faith avow,
Though secretly they hold it now.
Shine on the darkened and the cold.
Recall the wanderers to thy fold,
Unite all those who walk apart,
Confirm the weak and doubting heart.