Sermon audio here.
Nobody knows for sure where the word “okay” comes from, let alone what it means. Sure, on paper it means “good” or “fine.” “That’s okay by me!” But if I ask you how the food is at the new Mexican place in town and you say, “The food’s okay,” I’d take that to mean, “Meh, not great,” or maybe even, “Watch out for la cucaracha.” Okay is not always okay.
“Okay” is what Jeremiah was complaining about. People were being lied to in the Lord’s house. They went to the temple and heard sermons about how everything was okay. They were told, “Don’t be so hard on yourself. You’re doing great.” Deep down the people knew they weren’t, but if you lie to yourself long enough, you eventually start to believe it.
Our Lord saw right though their lies. He knew everything wasn’t okay and saw the temple for what it really was. Armed with a whip of cords, Jesus burst in and started throwing tables around. Things were certainly not okay in the temple. It was supposed to be a house of prayer, but the people had made it into a den of robbers.
There’s something very wrong here. The temple was supposed to be heaven on earth, the place where, like Eden, God is present with man. But instead, the people had turned it into a den, or a cave. Caves are dark, scary places—certainly not heaven on earth. Caves are places where terrorists are most comfortable. There, they can plot in secrecy.
That’s what God’s house had become: a cave for robbers, a place where sinners were comforted in their sin. Instead of being called to repentance, they were told, “that’s okay, just keep on living however you like.”
These things have been written down for us as examples, beloved. People think God never gets angry, but remember what Christ did in the temple. Remember how He proclaimed the destruction of Jerusalem:
“For the days will come upon you, when you enemies will set up a barricade around you and surround you on every side and tear you down to the ground, you and your children within you. And they will not leave one stone upon another in you, because you did not know the time of your visitation.”
And keep in mind, Jerusalem was the holy city, a second paradise to God. It was the place where God appeared with His holy angels, the place of His dwelling and the center of worship. Jerusalem was where Christ walked, preached, died, rose again, and where the Holy Spirit was poured out. There is no place in the world that’s more precious to God than Jerusalem, yet He visited them with destruction. If God was willing to do this to His holy city, how much less will he spare ours?
Christ’s Church is not a den for robbers, a place where Christ makes sinners feel okay with their sins. If you don’t think Jesus cares about how you live, on the Last Day He will tell you: “Depart from me; I never knew you.” God doesn’t give those who come to church and go through the motions a get out of jail free card. The Pharisees and the people in the temple spent more time in church than anybody else, yet their hearts were far from God. Not everyone who says Lord, Lord will enter the kingdom of heaven.
Jesus came to destroy the works of the devil, not to leave you in slavery to sin. To the woman caught in adultery, He proclaimed Holy Absolution and added the words, “go and sin no more.” When Christ ascended into heaven, He didn’t tell His disciples to proclaim a life of ease or comfort, but to proclaim repentance and forgiveness of sins in His name.
This is who Jesus is, whose very name means, “He who saves His people,” not for their sins, but “from their sins.” Jesus isn’t the Lamb of God who is okay with the sin of the world; He’s the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. He takes them away, which means you can’t have them anymore. And if you want them back, you can’t have Jesus. Jesus and sin are mutually exclusive. Repent. You have become far too comfortable with sin.
The devil loves to preach the gospel, to tell you that it’s all forgiven anyway, so why not do as you please? There’s a big difference between the devil’s “it’s okay” and Christ’s “I forgive you all your sins.” It’s the difference between east and west, darkness and light, death and life. “It’s okay” is why Jesus wrecked the temple in an act of divine mercy. The wages of sin is death. There’s nothing okay about sin, death, or the devil. Okay is the enemy of perfection & holiness.
These things were written for your instruction. Consider the den of robbers your heart has become. Be as ruthless in your self-examination as Christ was with the moneychangers in the temple. If you let them stay, you will suffer worse than Jerusalem did in 70AD when the Romans showed up and not one stone was left upon another.
Don’t be satisfied with telling yourself “it’s okay.” Facing reality and owning up to sin is never pleasant, but living in denial won’t make the problem go away. You are Christ’s temple. Let Him enter in, turn over some tables, drill out the decay in your heart, and change the ways you do business. If you confess your sins, He will cleanse you from all unrighteousness.
Jesus didn’t come to save pretty good people, but sinners. You will never find peace by lying to yourself by saying it’s okay. Jesus is your peace. He has made peace between you and God by the blood He shed on the cross. His blood covers your sin in Holy Baptism and nurtures you in the Holy Supper. By the grace of God, you are better than okay. You are as righteous in God’s eyes as Christ Himself.
Soli Deo Gloria