And as He came near, seeing the city He wept over it, saying "If you had know in this day, even you, the things toward peace; and now they have been hidden from your eyes. For days will come upon you, and your enemies will throw alongside you a siege-wall, and surround you, and come against you on all sides, and will level you to the ground and your children within you, and not leave a stone upon a stone in you, because you did not know the season of your visitation." And He, entering into the Temple, began to cast out those selling, saying to them, "It is written, ‘& WILL BE, MY HOUSE, A HOUSE OF PRAYER ,' but you, yourselves have made it a robber's cave." He was teaching daily in the Temple, but the chief priests and the scribes were trying to destroy Him, also the leaders of the people, and they could not find what they might do, for the people, all were hanging upon Him, listening.
God's people in the Old Testament didn't listen to Him very well. Prophet after prophet were sent to them to speak the word of the LORD, but they didn't pay attention. So God sent the Assyrian armies to wipe out the northern ten tribes of Israel. Soon after, the remaining tribes of Judah and Benjamin also failed to listen to God's word, so the LORD sent the Babylonians to take them into exile for seventy years. When they returned, the very first priority was to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem and its Temple.
But again, the Jews failed to listen to the LORD. So He sent a famine of His word into the land. For some 500 years, no prophets were sent to proclaim God's word to the Jews–until John the Baptizer prepared the way for Jesus. Surely when God sent His only-begotten Son, His people would listen to Him, right? But they didn't. They listened instead to the Jewish big-wigs of the day, who convinced them to shout "Crucify, crucify!" For this, their city and temple would be destroyed along with 900,000.
It is crystal clear that God doesn't like it when His people fail to listen to Him, and dire consequences are sure to follow throughout history. So, what of today? Surely we listen to God as He desires, right? Or do we? Oh, we hear him, much like I may hear the lovely-Lauri talking to me during a football game, but we don't always pay attention to what we hear. Hearing is not the same as listening. Listening requires that we respond to God's word in faith–with faithful words and with faithful actions!
So a pretty good measuring stick of how well we listen to the LORD's Word would be what we say and what we do. Ask yourself: Do you gather with your brothers and sisters in this congregation in bible study to listen to God's word and learn from it? Or do you gather at meetings to discuss your opinions on how the church should be run, and what to do about our building and property in the future? Are your words speaking what scripture says God wants, or are they all about what you and others want?
Truth be told, many–far too many of our words and actions betray us as those who don't spend much time listening to God's word. This is probably because we fail to understand what the church is. It is not, I repeat, *not* a building. The church exists eternally, while its buildings come and go. Two Temples have come and gone in Jerusalem, but the Christian church born there continues on without a central worship building anymore. For the church's one foundation is not a building, but Christ Jesus!
You see, it's not about the building at all, but about what God is doing there. Jesus drove the salesmen and money-changers from God's house because they weren't about listening to God's word there. Then Jesus started teaching, and crowds were drawn by the Spirit to God's Word coming from His mouth. You too are drawn here today, not because of music, facilities, or anything else but God's pure Gospel word of forgiveness in Jesus. Christ's love to you from the cross draws you where He is!
It's also not so much about what *you* do as it is what Jesus does. We get preoccupied with who gets to read, usher, acolyte, or assist at communion as though our actions are the most important thing. They aren't. The work of God for you is a singular act: to believe, and thereby receive God's gifts. You passively listen as Jesus speaks words of forgiveness through the voice of your Pastor, as from Christ Himself, knowing that Jesus died for you at the cross to give you the gift of eternal life.
It's the same way with God's actions. Just as you did nothing but lay there when you were brought to the font for the LORD to adopt you into His family by the washing of water & the Word, so too you are passive at the Lord's Supper, as you receive the body of Jesus given for you in the bread, and as you receive the blood of Christ shed for you in the cup. Jesus is your Temple, wherever He may be found, in His word and sacrament. And you all, gathered to Him, are His body–the church!
Hymns for today from LSB:
#868 Awake My Soul and with the Sun
#644 The Church's One Foundation
#540 Christ the Word of God Incarnate