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God’s Word for You

Luke 13:35 Your house is abandoned

by Pastor Timothy Smith on Friday, September 14, 2018

35 “Look! Your house is abandoned to you. I tell you, you shall not see me until the time comes when you say: ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!’”

What does Jesus mean by “Your house is abandoned to you”? Let’s begin with what we know, and this will guide us through what we don’t know at first glance. The “house” is more than the temple, since Jesus has cried out to more than the temple. His vocative cry in verse 34 was “O Jerusalem!” and that’s the house here: the walls, the homes, the palaces, the temple, and everything else that was once Jerusalem. Jerusalem stands for the nation of Israel, the Jews. The other thing we can be sure of is that “you” here means the Jews who did not stay under their Savior’s willing wings. So, the Jews who abandoned Jesus have their Jerusalem, but it has been abandoned by Jesus—abandoned by God—and it has been left to the Jews who rejected Jesus. In doing so they have become unbelievers. The city, what’s left of it, no longer holds the presence of God. This is the sad state of affairs for the Jews today.

Some readers may not know the history of the Jewish people after the close of the New Testament. It cannot be told in full here, nor does it need to be. But a sketch is offered here, keeping in mind that the situation was not always the same in every part of the world. All dates are A.D.

  • 66-70. Rebellion (led by the Zealots) against Roman rule is crushed. The temple is destroyed, and Jerusalem is reduced to rubble.
  • 130-135. Roman Emperor Hadrian orders Jerusalem to be rebuilt as a pagan city (Aelia Capitolina). A revolt led by Simon Bar Cochba is crushed and half a million Jews are killed in the battles.
  • 313. Roman Emperor Constantine becomes Christian. Persecution of Christians ends in the empire, and Jews are persecuted in many places. Two important concentrations of Jews are in Babylon and Galilee.
  • 637. Muslims conquer Babylon and Jerusalem. The Code of (caliph) Omar puts heavy restrictions on Jews under Muslim rule. The Dome of the Rock is erected in Jerusalem more or less over the site of the former temple.
  • 711-1031. Jews begin migrating in large numbers to Spain (the Spanish period).
  • 1077. Jerusalem is occupied by Seljuk Turks.
  • 1099-1260. The Crusades.
  • 1215. The Fourth Lateran Council places restrictions on the Jews in Catholic territories similar to those of the Code of Omar. Jews begin to be persecuted in many European nations.
  • 1290. Edward I expels Jews from England.
  • 1480. The Spanish Inquisition is created in part to uncover marranos, Jews who made a public confession of Christian faith but secretly retained their Judaism.
  • 1500s. Thousands of Jews migrate eastward. By 1645 there are more than 500,000 Jews in Poland. In 1648-1649 the Chmelnicki massacres heavily reduce the number of Jews in Poland and many begin wandering to find a home.
  • 1650. Oliver Cromwell encourages Jews to leave Europe to settle in the English colonies in America.
  • 1791. France lifts restrictions on Jews living in the Republic.
  • 1848. After the wars of German unification, Jews are generally allowed to live peacefully throughout Europe.
  • 1917. The overthrow of the Czar and his regime in Russia causes the expulsion of more than 2 million Jews, most of whom emigrate to America, Argentina, South Africa or Canada.
  • 1930s-1940. Approximately 6 (or as many as 8) million Jews are murdered in Nazi concentration camps before and during World War II.
  • 1947. The Balfour Declaration establishes the nation of Israel in western Palestine.
  • 1948 (spring). Jews and Palestinians go to war when Jews attempt to force Palestinians from their homes and cities.
  • 1949 (spring). Armistice. The Jews and Palestinians will remain in moderately peaceful (but armed) conditions. The Balfour Declaration has created a permanently hostile war zone without solving the problem of forcing a migration into a region occupied by another nation for more than a thousand years. Conflicts continue: Suez Crisis (1956), Six-Day War (1967), Yom Kippur War (1973), 1982 Lebanon War, 2006 Lebanon War.

This is merely a political history. What is Jesus saying to these people, once his beloved, who have abandoned him? Notice that he says “you,” which here is plural. Jesus allows that there would be some Jews who would indeed turn back to him, even though they had once rejected him. One outstanding example here is Paul, who was so rabidly anti-Christian at this time and in the years following Jesus’ resurrection that he persecuted Christians and had some like Stephen put to death for their faith in Jesus (Acts 7:58). Later he was converted to the very faith he had rejected and became its mightiest champion in the early church. He lamented later in life, “I persecuted the church of God” (1 Corinthians 15:9). It is such people as Paul who can cry out, “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord” (Psalm 118:26). In the Psalm, no one can deny that someone who cries out to the Lord this way is someone who embraces all of the word of God, someone who can also cry out “O Lord, save us!” (Psalm 118:25). This salvation is possible only in Christ, the Messiah promised to Abraham (Genesis 12:3), to Isaac (Genesis 26:4), and to Jacob (Genesis 28:14). Could there be someone who believed in the God of Abraham, but not the God of Isaac? He is one and the same God. He is the God of Jacob as well. He is the God who became a human being in the body of Mary, who gave his life on the cross for us all, and who gives forgiveness and eternal life to everyone who trusts in him. These are the ones—some of them the “you” of this verse—who will say, “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.”

Jesus cannot be teaching a final conversion of all the Jews as a nation in this verse. Jesus is talking to listeners here, not penning a letter only to be read and understood by future generations. Jesus says, “Your house is abandoned to you.” These are not the words of conversion, but the preaching of the law to people who need to repent, to realize their sin and unbelief, and to beg God for mercy. Then they will see Jesus in the resurrection. Then they will sing his praises with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. “All who swear by God’s name will praise him, while the mouths of liars will be silenced” (Psalm 63:11). The name of God is any name or title he uses in his word to describe himself. This includes every name of Jesus, which must not be rejected. It is he who says, “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine” (Isaiah 43:1). Only those who are called by Christ will enter into eternal life. But all who are called, whether many or few, will join the hosts of heaven to sing God’s praises forevermore.

In Christ,
Pastor Timothy Smith

Pastor Tim SmithAbout Pastor Timothy Smith
Pastor Smith serves St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in New Ulm, Minnesota. His wife, Kathryn, attended the Chapel from 1987-1990 while studying Secondary Education (Theater and Math) at UW-Madison. Kathryn’s father, John Meyer, was also the first man to serve as a Vicar at Chapel.

To receive God’s Word for You via e-mail, please contact Pastor Smith.

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