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Grace Bible Church - Gatesville, Tx
Grace Bible Church - Gatesville, Tx

Episode · 10 months ago

The New Temple

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

The New Temple

John 2:12-25

Dax Bryant - Preaching

Well, as I mentioned, we're going to be in John Chapter Two, Verses Twelve through twenty five. There's a as I've mentioned before, C s Lewis's work, the chronicles of Narnia is one of my favorites. In book five of that series, the voyage of the down treader, there's a scene that happens towards the end of the book where Lucy and Edmund Disembark from the ship and they begin making their way to the shore and they come they walk across the shallow waters and the sand and eventually they come to this mighty expanse of green grass. It's just green as far as the eye can see. But but way out in the middle of all that green is this little white spot and they can hardly look at it. It's so bright they can't tell what it is even until they get much closer and they discover that it is a lamb, white pure and the lamb is there in the middle of that green grassy field cooking a breakfast of fish. And so the imagery that that Lewis is using is not so subtle, right. But but then the lamb begins to explain to them the way to Aslam's country and as he starts speaking and explaining that, something incredible happens. Lewis writes it this way. He says his snowy white flush into tawny gold and his size changed and he was as LN himself, towering above them and scattering light from his Maine. That's a vivid picture of one of the most important truths about our faith, that the lamb is the lion, the lamb who takes away the sin of the world is the lion of the tribe of Judah. Jesus has both qualities, qualities that we consider to be lamb like gentleness and meekness, but he also has all of the majesty and ferocity of a lion, and in this passage, in John Two twelve through twenty five, it is his lion like attributes that are on full display. And again we want to ask why is this story here? And I want to remind you again of John Purpose statement for his couple. It's in John Twenty thirty one that these things are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the son of God, and that by believing you will you can have life in his name. And I trust that you're going to have that memorized by the time we're through John's Gospel. So so, with that purpose statement in mind, that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the son of God, we have to ask, well, how does this story accomplished John's purpose? Because as the lion of Judah comes to his father's house, to the temple in Jerusalem and clean's house, he also puts his full deity on display. And we're going to ask three questions from this passage that will reveal Jesus as the son of God. If you remember back to another the story where Jesus is sleeping in the storm, is on the sea and he comes out after the disciples wake him and he stills the wind and the seas and the disciples ask who then, is this that even the wind and the waves listen to him? These questions are offered in that same spirit. Who, who is this? How can he do this? Who can do these things? Because, as we're going to see, the things that Jesus does and says in this passage are...

...things that only God can do. So let's let's begin here, verse twelve after this, so that is immediately after the miracle at Cana that we looked at last week, or return the water into wine. He went down to Copernum with his mother and his brothers and his disciples and stayed there for a few days. Now we don't know exactly how much time passes between verse eleven and Verse Twelve, but it's clear these are still very early days in Jesus Public Ministry Kapernam. You could make that walk from Cana in a long day. It's about twenty miles. Kapernam was also the adopted home of Peter and Andrew, situated right on the seashore of the Sea of Galilee, perfect for their fishing business that they had going. COPERNAM also eventually becomes Jesus's adopted ministry headquarters. When he's in the area and as they are coming home from Cana, I'm sure it's an exciting time for Jesus his disciples, including his mother, their fresh off that wedding event. But this, this stop in Kapernam is very brief. It says they stayed there for a few days. Why? Why such a short stay? Well, verse thirteen tells us the Passover of the Jews was at hand and Jesus went up to Jerusalem, the Passover of the Jews, it says. Why does John Describe it that way? I mean, after all, even even gentiles who would be reading this Gospel would know that the Passover, of course it's Jewish. Well, in the first century it was the people who lived in Judea who were called the Jews by those who lived in Galilee and even those who were scattered further abroad. And the Passover, of course, was celebrated at the temple in Jerusalem, which was located in Judea. So that's why it's called the Passover, Passover of the Jews. So Jesus goes up to Jerusalem for this very reason, to celebrate the Passover. And, as I'm sure you know, you always go up to Jerusalem wherever you're coming from, not just because of the elevation climb, but because Jerusalem is the historic center of the it's the capital, it's the nation's capital and it is the religious hub of Israel. So you always go up to Jerusalem and Jesus does a celebrate the Passover. Now, the Passover itself, of course, is the defining event in the history of the Jewish people. It's that night when they were still enslaved in Egypt, when the angel of death passed over the houses that were marked with the lamb's blood and killed the firstborn and all the other homes, and through that event the Jews were delivered from Egyptian slavery, and this was something that God called them to remember and celebrate forever and by the time we come to the first century. The way they're doing that is hundreds of thousands of Jewish pilgrims from all over the Roman Empire flock and crowd into the holy city of Jerusalem to worship God as he has prescribed, at the Passover. The Passover was a holiday that included feasting and singing and, importantly, the sacrifice of a lamb. And here among all those pilgrims is Jesus, and I don't want us to miss that. We need to just just take a moment to consider how...

...incredible it is that Jesus is present to celebrate the Passover. Jesus, who is the fulfillment of the Passover, or will be, the sinless lamb of God, the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world, identifies himself with the sinners who are coming to the Passover in Jerusalem. That's amazing, but what he finds there is very troubling. Notice verse fourteen, in the Temple. He found those who were selling oxen and sheep and pigeons and the money changers sitting there. So we have two groups mentioned here. First are those selling the animals that will be used in the sacrificial worship that takes place in the temple, which makes sense. If you were coming in from out of town or traveling a great distance, it was much more practical to purchase an animal on site than it would be to bring an animal along with you. And the second group of people that are mentioned there are the money changers. So these pilgrims who were gathering in Jerusalem, they're coming from a wide range of areas. They would have had different kinds of coins with them, but the temple tax, which was due from every Jewish male age twenty and up, had to be paid with a special currency and of course, to exchange that money involved a fee. Now, with these two activities going on, the buying of animals and the exchanging of money, it's not too hard to imagine some level of corruption developing here. You know, exorbitant markups on the prices of animals, exchange rates that were exploitative, working together to prey on the masses of people who are there. It remains me sort of like when you go to a stadium to watch a game, or or an amusement park somewhere where you're not allowed to bring in your own food and then you have to buy, you know, eight dollar hot dogs and four dollar cokes. Your kind of captive. You're stuck. It's the price of convenience, but it also feels coherced. Now something like that, I have no doubt very well, could have been going on here, but it's important to notice that the text actually doesn't say that that's going on here. So we have to be careful not to read more into this than what's actually in the text. Jesus has complaint isn't that these people are guilty of, you know, dishonest business dealings and they need to take a class on ethics or or register with the better business bureau or something like that. The problem is that they are doing this on the temple grounds period, because the temple was a holy place where God himself had manifested his glory. It was there at the temple that God, God Shkina Glory, descended and entered and Hubbard over the mercy seat of the Ark of the Covenant in the Holy of holies. This was God's house, and what Jesus witnesses taking place there angers him. That's right, Jesus gets angry. Isn't it a send to be angry? Well, not according to David, who writes in Psalmn for verse for be angry and do not sin, and not according to Paul, who quotes David. Be Angry and do not sin, do not let the sun go down on your anger effusions for Verse Twenty Six. And not according to Jesus. There is a place for righteous anger, if we understand that that righteous anger is being angry at the things that make God angry. Anger is part of...

...the right response of holiness toward unrighteousness, and what Jesus saw here in the temple led to decisive action on his part that came out of this righteous anger. Notice firse fifteen and making a whip of cords, he drove them all out of the temple with the sheep and oxen, and he poured out the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. And he told those who sold the pigeons take these things away, do not make my father's house a house of trade, a house of business, a market place. Now there would have been cords and ropes and things like that lying around from the the animal cages and the pins that were there. Can you imagine Jesus gathering those and nodding them together and fashioning this whip? And then the sound of tables crashing, coins spilling and Jangling across the hard stone floor, the rush of people and animals being driven out by Jesus. Take these things away, he says, do not make my father's house a house of trade. The lamb was a lion, and we don't need to water down the intensity of Jesus in this moment because he was indignant, he was angry, he was forceful, not not cruel, of course, certainly not sinful, but he didn't fashion that whip, I don't think, without the intention of using it. Surely there were some who felt the sting. The question is, do you have a category in your thinking for this side of Jesus? There's the idea of of gentle Jesus, Gentle Jesus Meek and mild, and that often plays a very prominent role in how we pictured Jesus. Sometimes, however, so much so that it can actually distort the full portrait of Jesus that's given to us in the scriptures. Jesus is not just some sentimental, nice guy whose big goal in life is to let you off the hook with a with a little wink and an odd so that you can go have a nice day and live your best life now. Please hear me, though. Jesus is gentle and loving and humble. In fact, I'm reading through the book gentle and lowly by day in nortland right now, and it is filled with these wonderful, often neglected truths about who Jesus is. Jesus is gentle and and lowly and meek and mild to those who come to him with a contrite heart and a broken spirit. To them, his yoke is easy, his burden is light. This, this gentleness, is how Jesus relates to those he is redeeming. But we need to balance that gentleness with other descriptions of our Lord, particularly in his attitude towards people who continually resist him and stubbornly, defiantly cling to their sin. The Gentle and merciful Christ also Burns with Holy Wrath and always works with perfect justice. We see that throughout the New Testament.

In Mark Chapter Three, where Jesus heals the paralyzed man or the guy with the paralyzed hand, and people are making a fuss because he does this healing on the Sabbath. Were told that he looked around at them with anger. There were certainly nothing gentle in the message that Jesus sent to Herod, who was seeking to kill him. He said, go and tell that Fox, and the Pharisees weren't contemplating Jesus's gentleness and meekness and mildest when he said you're like whitewashed tombs, you serpents, you brewed of vipers. How are you to escape being sentenced to hell? Woe to you. But what's important for us to keep in mind is that in his moments of anger, Jesus is just as much God as when he weeps for his friends or when he welcomes little children or when he hung on the Cross. His love for what is holy and good is not incompatible with his hatred for what is unholy and evil. In fact, his hatred for what is unholy further reveals his love for what is holy and right. Here Jesus reveals a burning passion for holy reverence in worship. That's what's behind these righteously angry words. Do Not Make my father's house a house of trade. In other words, how dare you treat my father's house this way? John Calvin writes of this passage. Why, then, does he drive the buyers and sellers out of the temple? It is that he may bring back to its original purity the worship of God, which had been corrupted by the wickedness of men. In other words, this is about worship. Here in the temple, the place where humans were meant to worship God, instead of solemn reverence and the soft murmur of prayer, there is the loud bellowing of cattle and bleeding of sheep. Instead of repentance and adoration and petition, there is the noisy activity of commerce, of haggling and arguing, and Jesus shows up to clean house. It's reminiscent of Malachi chapter three, where we're told that the Lord will suddenly come to his temple like a refiner's fire. Judgment, you see, has begun at the House of God. In fact, John Tells Us, the Apostle, John tells us they're down in verse seventeen that later his disciples remembered that it was written zeal for Your House will consume me. That was in fulfillment of words that David wrote in Psalm Sixty nine. So on one level, Jesus was right to be angry because people were being hindered from coming to know God in this environment. All of this was happening in the temple courtyard, the court of the gentiles it was called. This was this was supposed to be the place where gentiles could come and observe and ask questions and and hear about the one true living God. And on all of this commotion was disrupting that. But even more importantly than that, Jesus is anger is is rooted in the fact that God was being dishonored by what was happening in his house. The very purpose, the very reason for the existence of the temple was to glorify God,...

...and and the sin of the money changers and the animal sellers were was detracting from the communication of God's glory. This was this was desecrating God's house and therefore God himself. So this this is about improper worship, worship without reverence. And, brothers and sisters, God has said a great deal to us about worship. He he is concerned earned about how we worship him. And in scripture, when when worship is offered wrongly, well, it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the Living God. Israel worships the Golden Calf and three Tho men are killed. Aaron's sons offer strange fire before the Lord and they are incinerated on the spot. As a reaches his hand out to steady the Ark before it falls off and he's killed instantly. It's not just in the Old Testament either. Members of the CORINTHIAN church fail to properly consider the Lord's supper, the Lord's body, and they die and they fall ill, careless. Irreverent worship is a curse and God despises it, he rejects it and ultimately it arouses his anger and judgment the we could say it this way. The whip of our Lord is wielded against anything that detracts from God's glory and worship, and that's something that we, just generally Christians, don't take very seriously in the church today. And yet there's there's hardly anything that's more widespread and and therefore very relevant for the Modern Day church than this very thing. Are Our attitude, in our approach in worship. And of course I'm not just talking about all the bizarre practices and strange things you can encounter of socalled worship that you can find, you know, on Youtube or whatever, and I'm not even talking about the entertainment driven, consumer focused approach to church that is so commonplace. I think most of US recognize how bad those things are. That's not what I'm most concerned about it, especially for the people who belong to to our church. I think the greater danger for most of us is the tendency that we have to remake God in our own image, to reduce God to something much less than he really is. Well, how does that happen? What does that look like? Well, many ways, but I think it really could be as simple as this. On Most Sundays you come together to worship, but your heart is just like that Outer Court of the temple, cluttered and and noisy with thoughts of business deals and office problems and athletic events and shopping trips and social occasions and all the trappings of this world. Solomon, I think, said it best in proverbs five, verse fourteen. Solomon said, I am at the brink of utter ruin in the assembled congregation. You See, improper worship happens not just in you know all those other churches out there who are who are doing it wrong. It's possible for you personally to be in utter ruin, even...

...while you are part of a strong Biblical church. Just having an irreverent, casual approach to God restricts your ability to properly worship, because what happens is you inevitably replace worship with God, with what God's concerned about, and you replace that with what works best or feels right to you. And the fact is the way we worship reveals what we think about God, because it doesn't it doesn't matter what your view or my view or your preference or my preference is when it comes to worship. What matters is God's view of worship. So we have to fight against that, that drift that we all have to selfishness, that that has this effect of making us desensitized to the greatness and holiness of God. We have to resist the the nominalism that creeps in, even from with within the realm of professing Christians who say things like you don't you don't have to take this God stuff so seriously. I mean compare those attitudes to to what we see here with Jesus. Zeal for Your House will consume me again. That's from Psalm Sixty nine, and the second half of that verse, that's not quoted in this passage, is very telling it, psalm sixty nine continues to say, and the reproaches of those who reproach you have fallen on me. That means that we are to identify so closely with God that when someone defames him or or tarnishes his glory with improper worship, we feel that reproach, we take it personally, and I think the implication of that is that we should feel and experience the same holy anger toward that that he does. The question is, do you have that kind of zeal? Are you consumed with protecting the honor and integrity and Majesty and Glory of God that that should be a priority for us, especially when we are worshiping him. We should always be asking ourselves, is God being glorified in this. Is this honoring to God? Is God's name being exalted, or are we doing something else here? God takes worship seriously. Now, serious does not mean lifeless, serious does not mean joyless. But the point I'm trying to make is that that any form of worship that turns the focus on ourselves, on our convenience, on our preferences, on our entertainment, on our needs, that takes away from God and that evokes God's anger. And the day is coming when Jesus will drive that completely out of his father's house once and for all. Back in John Chapter two, when Jesus is cleansing the temple, what's he doing while he's putting his deity on display? How? So? Because he's regulating worship, that's the first question. That that helps prove John's agenda that Jesus is the son of God, because who has the Authority to regulate worship? Only God and the the implication is obvious there. But Jesus comes not only to pureify the temple, he comes to personify the temple. Verse Eighteen. So the Jews said to him, what sign do...

...you show us for doing these things? These are the temple authorities. They are demanding some kind of miraculous sign to justify this, this show of force, and they have the right to question the credentials of someone who would dare enter into the temple grounds and and act so boldly as to regulate worship in the temple. But but the very question here, I think, reveals something about their hearts, because, first of all, notice they're not concerned about if what Jesus did was right or just or pleasing to God. They're less interested in pure worship and they're more interested in a in power and authority and who has the right to do these things. But secondly, by asking this question, they must at least suspect their dealing with with a prophet who's sent from God, at the very least, because they don't just drag him out of there immediately. They they ask him to prove himself. They ask for this miraculous sign, something that he could perform on demand that would satisfy them. But Jesus isn't going to play that game. In fact, if they had eyes to see, what Jesus had just done in the temple was already a sign, a sign that they should have understood in terms of fulfilling scripture. But but they want to sign, and so here's your sign. Verse Nineteen. Jesus answered them destroy this Temple and in three days I will raise it up. This is this is again classic Jesus. Here, on the face of it, Jesus is inviting them to tear down the temple and promising that he will rebuild it again within three days of its destruction, and that would certainly meet their demand for a miraculous sign. But but of course it's a claim they're not likely to test, and so it's clever in that way. But it's not designed to be clever. It's designed to strike a nerve, and it very much does so, because people are still talking about this statement three years later. When Jesus is on trial for his life, when he appears before the Sanhedron, they they scramble to find all of these witnesses that they can bring against him, and one of the common charges that they bring, even though they can't get their story straight, is that they bring up the fact that he said that he would destroy the temple that's made with hands and in in three days he would build another temple not made with hands. This was something that was brought up from those who mocked him while he hung on the cross. So if they didn't understand it even then, they certainly don't get it here. And you see that in Verse Twenty Right. The Jews then said it is taken forty six years to build this temple and will you raise it up in three days? So naturally they're, you know, a little more than incredulous at this claim that a building that had been under construction for nearly half a century could be rebuilt in less than half a week. And of course they, and and actually Jesus disciples for that matter, they don't understand what Jesus is actually talking about. In this moment. He's speaking on a deeper level, and so the Apostle John Inserts this helpful little explanation so that we don't misunderstand what Jesus is saying Verse Twenty One. But he was speaking about the temple of his body. When, therefore, he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this...

...and they believed the scripture and the word that Jesus had spoken. You See, as important as it was that the worship of God in the Temple Be Pure in reverent, it's even more important to realize that the temple itself pointed forward to a better and final meeting place between God and human beings. That meeting place is now found in Jesus Christ. He came not only to cleanse the temple, but to replace the temple by fulfilling the very purpose that the temple had. But did you notice, it was only after Jesus was raised from the dead that his disciples remembered this. Only after the resurrection did they understand what Jesus said and how it fit into the teaching of scripture. How did they do that? Well, through the wonderful gift of the Holy Spirit, who called to their minds the things Jesus had taught and enabled them to understand those things that will see Jesus promise to sin. That that helper when we get to the upper room discourse, starting in chapter thirteen. So here the Jewish leaders demand a sign. The only sign that Jesus is going to give is something that involves his death and resurrection, and that sign would validate every word that Jesus ever spoke, every miracle that Jesus ever performed, armed every attribute of God that Jesus ever displayed. Eventually they're going to kill him, they're going to seal his body in a tomb, but in the temple of his body, the ultimate sacrifice will take place and within three days of his death and burial, Jesus Christ, the True Temple, would rise from the dead. His resurrection is the sign of his ultimate authority over all things, and it puts his deity on full display. That this is our second question. WHO has the power to rise from the dead? Only God, and the fact that Jesus does it here, well, the implication is obvious. But there's one one final display of Jesus's Deity in this passage. Here it's found in that last little paragraph, starting in Verse Twenty Three. Now, when he was in Jerusalem at the Passover feast, many believed in his name when they saw the signs he was doing. But Jesus, on his part, did not in trust himself to them because he knew all people and needed no one to bear witness about man, for he himself knew what was in man. So the Passover is not just one day, it's this week long feast. And during the same time when Jesus is in Jerusalem for this feast, apparently seemingly he's doing a number of miraculous signs that that have the result of many were told believing in his name, and that's important to just think about too. It's it reminds me of the very last verse in John's Gospel, all the way at the end Chapter Twenty One, Verse Twenty Five, John Writes now there were also many other things that Jesus did. Were every one of them to be written, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written. And so we remind ourselves again...

...of John's Purpose Statement Chapter Twenty. Actually, if we start in verse thirty, it says now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples which are not written in this book verse Thirty One. But these are written so that you may believe John has curated a select few of these stories to share with us. Each one has been carefully chosen and arranged to arouse belief in Jesus as the son of God. So the question is, how do these last few verses do that? How did versus twenty three through twenty five accomplish that agenda? Well, even though we're told that, because of the miracles, many believed in his name. What we find here and and elsewhere in this gospel is that belief that is established on the basis of miracles alone is insufficient. Miracles don't save you, they are not enough to command lasting faith. The faith of the many in this passage would not last, and Jesus knew it. There's an interesting play on words here. See, it says many believed in his name, but Jesus, on his part, did not in trust himself to them. Those those two words. Believed in trust is the same Greek word, Pistuo, also translated faith sometimes. So to try to bring this across into the English because of the signs. Many were trusting in Jesus, but Jesus wasn't trusting them. Many were believing in Jesus, but he was not believing in them. He had no faith in their faith. is how we could say it. And the tragedy is that false professions of faith are a significant reality. They were in Jesus's Day, they are in our own day. Even the demons believe and tremble. There is the parable of the soils, there is the parable of the wheat and the tears, the good fish and the rotten fish. Jesus saying on the last day to professing believers depart from me. I never knew you. Many who claim to believe in Jesus will in the end proved to have had a non saving faith. I don't like that, but scripture is clear about that, and so all I can do is to warn you that your faith can't just be built on a desire for the miraculous, or on unbridled, ever expanding enthusiasm, or on a moving emotional experience or, especially for maybe of of us who are reformed leaning, your faith cannot be built simply on an intellectual knowledge of all the facts. True faith, lasting faith, involves a response from your whole person. Will see this more when we get the chapter four. It were called to worship in spirit and in truth, not with empty headed emotionalism and not with empty hearted intellectualism, but your whole person. And and the evidence of your faith is in what you believe, but also in...

...what you say and also in what you do, and in what you think and say and do, not just as maybe you get caught up in the moment, not not just in response to seeing God work in your life, maybe even in miraculous ways, not just as you go along with the crowd, but what you think and saying do over the course of your entire life, by by running well, by finishing the race with God's help. So why did Jesus not believe in their belief? Here in Verse Twenty Three, and this is the third and final display of his deity in this passage, we're told because he knew all people and need no one to bear witness about man, for he himself knew what was in man. He doesn't need to gather evidence, he doesn't need to hear testimony. He has a crystal clear, infallible perception of your spiritual reality. He knows you better than you know yourself. Who can possibly know that? That's our third and final question. Who can know the hearts of all men? Only God, and the implication here is obvious. Toward the end of John's Gospel, after cooking a breakfast of fish, Jesus Asks Peter Three Times if he loves him. Remember that, and how does Peter Respond? He said, you know that I love you. You know that I love you, Lord, you know everything. You know that I love you. And we're reminded that Jesus knows your heart. Now, if you are running from him or trying to hide from him or defying him. The fact that Jesus knows your heart is terrifying, but if you truly love him and seek to be reconciled with him, the fact that Jesus knows your heart is a tremendous comfort. The lamb is the lion, but the lion is also the lamb the the same hand that wielded the whip is the very same hand that was pierced by a nail and fixed to a cross. These things are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the son of God. WHO HAS THE AUTHORITY TO REGULATE WORSHIP? Only God, who has the power to rise from the dead, only God, who can know the hearts of all men, only God, and Jesus Christ does all of this and more, and John tells us about it here, so that you may believe and have life in his name. Will you pray with me? Father, thank you for sending your son, the God man, the perfect sacrifice that we all need, the only one who can stand in the gap between us and you. Thank you, Lord,...

...that in your word you have preserved for all time this, this picture of WHO Jesus Christ is and Lord, as we encounter these familiar stories in your word, I pray that your spirit would would prick our hearts, Lord, so that we might worship you and know you and love you and serve you in ways that bring you more and more glory God. I I too just continue to pray for our church this morning, the many people who are suffering from illness, and ask for your mercy and your healing. Lord, help us in the week ahead to to lift up your name, even in the midst of difficult circumstances. We love you and again, we are so thankful that we have this imperfect, not ideal way to connect, but we are grateful for what we have, as we are for all things, and so we we just give you all of the honor and glory and praise that you deserve in the name of your son, Jesus Amen.

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