(A homily preached at Concordia Theological Seminary, in a former life.)
O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, killing the prophets and stoning those who are sent to you! For three transgressions, and for four, your house is left to you desolate, emptied of Him who fills all things. The voice of the blood of prophets, wise men, and scribes cries out from your ground, the soil which opened its mouth to imbibe your brother’s blood. Woe unto you, Jerusalem, city of “peace”, where in the guise of peace, prophets are sawn in pieces, wise men stoned by fools, and the King of Kings crowned with thorns. O Jerusalem, how oft would Christ have gathered your children together, as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, but you, O brood of vipers, hired a man with filthy lucre, to lead a pack of wolves to that hen who longed only to save your life.
O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, killing the prophets and stoning those who are sent to you, would to God that we were better than you. Would that we might not have been angry, and our faces fallen, when you rejected our prideful ways and our self-serving sacrifices. Would that when sin crouched at our door, we might have mastered it instead of becoming its slaves, feeding our rage as we licked our wounded pride. Would that our hands were not smeared in the blood of those whose reputations, whose hopes, whose lives, we have murdered—our brethren for whom Christ died. And would to God that when He asked us, “Where is your brother?” we might have confessed and lamented our evil deeds instead of scoffing at heaven while we danced upon the grave of that brother, no, those brothers, whom we have failed to keep.
O Seminary, Seminary, woe unto you if you shed no tears over the Jerusalem that raises Cain within your heart. Woe unto you if outwardly you appear spic-and-span, but within are full of dead men’s bones. Seek the LORD, all you humble of the earth who have carried out His ordinances; seek righteousness, seek humility. Perhaps you will be hidden in the day of the LORD's anger (Zeph 2:3). Rend your hearts and not your garments; return to the LORD your God, for He is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger, abounding in lovingkindness, and relenting of evil (Joel 2).
There are three things which are too wonderful for me, four which I do not understand: the way of an eagle in the sky, the way of a serpent on a rock, the way of a man with a maiden, and the way of Christ with His world (Prov 30). For when the Judge demanded of us, “Where is your brother, Abel?” Christ bid us be silent, removed every drop of blood from our hands and wiped it onto His own, holding them up for the Judge to see. Off of our neck He slipped the noose and tightened it over His own. One will hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us, the offspring of Cain (Rom 5). So verily, verily I say unto you, neither idolatry, nor blasphemy, nor murder, nor adultery, nor theft, nor slander, nor coveting, nor sins present, nor sins to come, nor height of arrogance, nor depth of depravity, nor any other thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord (Rom 8).
O Seminary, Seminary, blessed are you, for the righteous blood of the Son of God, shed on Jerusalem’s soil has washed your unclean hearts. His mark of mercy the Lord has set upon you, that “thorn-crowned, blood-marked tree displaying, sign the devils find dismaying.” Blessed are you who become in the name of the Lord a bearer of that baptismal sign that marks the children of the new and better Adam, first-born acquired from the Lord. The voice of blood cries out from your bodies which opened their lips to receive our Savior’s blood from His cupped hand—blood that speaks a far better word than the blood of Abel.