26th Sunday after Pentecost


Jerusalem was among greatest of cities.

Well built and strong, it was a grand home for God’s chosen people.

And at its center was a Temple – THE Temple;

Adorned with noble stones and beautiful furnishings –

Attractive, commanding, and true.

All in all, it was a place of power and glory and…anxiety.

Jerusalem had long been occupied by a foreign army used to getting its way.

Taxes were high.

Freedoms were low.

And they only were allowed to worship because the government permitted it…for now.


Of course the inhabitants of Jerusalem wanted their home back.

They wanted their lives back, as anyone would.

The good news amidst all of that was that God had promised them a deliverer, a Savior.

Someone to end tyranny, oppression, and restore God’s land.


And so the campaign slogan of any would-be Messiah,

Worthy to follow in the footsteps of Moses would sound something like:

“Make Jerusalem great again!”

“No more Cesar. No more Herod. Give it back to the people, and back to the LORD”

That is what everyone wanted, even Jesus’ disciples.


Everyone wanted their home to be the place that their grandparents

And great grandparents had told them about.

They wanted that land promised to Moses, and to God’s people, Israel:

Milk and honey; jobs and prosperity, and all the rest.


“Lord, make Jerusalem great again!”

“And do it soon.”


From Jesus’ words in the Gospel text this morning,

We see that is not exactly His way of things.

Before things get any better, they’re going to get a lot worse.


That’s not a sermon anyone wanted to hear, but it is one they needed to hear.

And it wasn’t long at all before Jesus words were shown to be true.


In the year 70 A.D., because of their rebellion,

Emperor Nero sent an army to besiege Jerusalem and tear down the Temple.

And that’s exactly what they did –

Stone by stone by stone until not one was left on top of another,

Just like Jesus said.


It was a horrific time for mothers and babies as they tried to flee.

It was a violent time for men and boys who fell by the sword.

Jerusalem was great once; but that was a long time ago.


Despite the immense prosperity of our land,

Where even the poorest of you have more than most people who ever lived,

It could be said that you and I live our lives in days that are not so great.


We live in the tiny space between verse 24 and verse 25:

Between the age of the Gentiles, and the coming of the Son of Man, Jesus.


It’s an anxious time, full of pain.

It’s a time of danger and vulnerability –

When mothers aren’t cherished because they aren’t paid,

When the children inside them are treated as obstacles to greatness,

And so, like obstacles, they are overcome, murdered, and discarded.


This is a time of war and bloodshed –

Here and there and everywhere.

Wars and rumors of wars.

And we have our share in that.


I suppose it is natural enough to want someone to make things great again –

Someone to bring prosperity and comfort and peace.

This year is not all that different from every other.

Many have come saying, “I am He.” And many more will.


The temptation, of course, is to go after them, to trust in them, whoever they are.

They have what we want:

A promise of the greatness we would build with our own hands:


A city worthy of our importance;

And in the middle of that city a temple – one worthy of our wisdom;

And in the center of that temple an altar on which to sacrifice others for our gain.


With sins stacked like stones, we have built such places.

Cities and temples dedicated to ourselves, to our power, glory, and greatness.


But now in these last days, not one stone is left upon another.

For One Greater than Nero has torn them down.


While we and the disciples were looking for power that gives us control,

Jesus came in weakness and humility, as a servant.


While we were glorifying ourselves,

Jesus came glorifying His Heavenly Father.

As we were sacrificing others for our own benefit,

Jesus came and offered Himself as the perfect Sacrifice, to end all others.


And so it was, that by the time Nero’s armies came in the year 70, they were too late.


The real one had been torn down 37 years before,

When Jesus, the new Temple, was crucified;

It turns out that a shameful death, and the weakens of God,

was the only satisfactory answer to our greatness.


Jesus did not make the Temple great again!

Jesus made the Temple AGAIN, three days later, in His resurrection;

So that whatever Nero came and dismantled would just be a building.


Make Jerusalem great again?

No, Jesus has made Jerusalem AGAIN:

His heavenly city, His Kingdom of glory, heaven brought down to an earth remade.


As for you, Jesus promises to never ever, no not ever, make you great again.

You have tried it yourself, but that project is over now.

In the flood of Holy Baptism, He has washed all of that away.


And so you, citizens of the New Jerusalem,

You, Christians who worship in spirit and in truth,


You are forgiven and free and brand new!

And best of all, you are not great.

But Christ is.


He is greater than your fears.

He is greater than your anxieties.

He is greater than the land He has given us.


And He is here for you right now.


The rest of the world may be looking for signs in the sun and moon and stars,

And CNN may tell of the distress of nation s in perplexity,

And yes, some you may be tempted to fear for the future of our world.


But that is all the more reason to be here now this very hour.


Listen and you will hear.

Look and you will see:

The Son of Man descending, come now in bread and wine,

Body and Blood, with power and great glory to forgive and to bless.


So for goodness’ sake: straighten up!

Raise your heads.

Open your mouths to receive your Gift.

Christ Himself, your Redemption is drawing near.



About Pastor Hopkins