Faithlife Sermons

The Steps of a King - Cleansing

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Last week was the first sermon in a series dealing with the steps Jesus took during His last days before His crucifixion and resurrection - four events that labeled Him as King.  Last week was the Celebration; the people welcomed Jesus into Jerusalem shouting, “Blessed is the King who comes in the Name of the Lord.”

Today we go from the triumphal entry (the celebration) to the cleansing; Jesus goes to the temple and sees that the temple has being abused and He runs those who are mistreating the House of God out the door.

Just as with the celebration, all 4 gospels cover this event.  So once again we get to see the instant replay from several different angles.  Of the 4 gospels, John’s recording is the one I would like for you and I look at this morning.

John 2: 12After this he went down to Capernaum with his mother and brothers and his disciples. There they stayed for a few days.

13When it was almost time for the Jewish Passover, Jesus went up to Jerusalem. 14In the temple courts he found men selling cattle, sheep and doves, and others sitting at tables exchanging money. 15So he made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the temple area, both sheep and cattle; he scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. 16To those who sold doves he said, “Get these out of here! How dare you turn my Father’s house into a market!”

17His disciples remembered that it is written: “Zeal for your house will consume me.”

18Then the Jews demanded of him, “What miraculous sign can you show us to prove your authority to do all this?”

19Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days.”

20The Jews replied, “It has taken forty–six years to build this temple, and you are going to raise it in three days?”  The original language literally reads  “from that time until now it (the temple) has been under construction and is not yet finished.”

Obviously some of the same contractors working on that church moved over here to Southeast Texas.  Jesus said I’ve got a contractor who can rebuild what has been destroyed in 3 days!

 21But the temple he had spoken of was his body. 22After he was raised from the dead, his disciples recalled what he had said. Then they believed the Scripture and the words that Jesus had spoken.

If you have ever had a new car and an old car, you know that one is treated a little different from the other.  If you have to go get potting soil for your spring plants; you do not take the new car.  You don’t want to defile it by putting dirt in it. 

It is special to you, so you watch over it with great care. 

No coffee

Try to imagine how special the Temple was to Jesus.  On a previous trip, He stayed behind without His parent’s knowing that when he was 12 and they hurried back and found Him discussing the Word of God with the Priests.

It is hard to imagine the scene that Jesus sees when He enters the Temple.  In the past, the animals used for the sacrifice were kept in stalls in Kidron Valley.  But now they are in the Temple courts and not for the sake of being convenient.  But for the sake of taking advantage of the worshippers who had travelled many miles.

It is the Passover celebration.  Every male Jew age 12 and over were to be in Jerusalem for this Feast and they were to offer a sacrifice and pay the Temple tax.  This was of utmost importance to them.

Some may have brought their own animal to sacrifice, but it had to be without blemish, a perfect lamb.  That would mean bringing it to the priest to examine and if the priest said it was not good enough for the sacrifice; you would have to get another.  And how convenient that they just happen to have some pre-approved sacrificial animals right over there that you could purchase for a nominal fee.

And you have to pay the Temple tax, but you can’t use the coin you brought with you because it has the portrait of Caesar on it and that is unacceptable, so you need to go visit the money-changer’s table and they will provide you with the right coin; also for a nominal fee.  That way all of your offerings and prayers will be acceptable.

And if you will just send us a check, we will send you this prayer cloth made from the finest Middle Eastern silk, hand-sewn by Nazarite women; testimonies from all over the world are coming in about how people have had prayers answered when they prayed holding this prayer cloth in their hands; all you need to do is just send us your check today and your prayers will be answered tomorrow.

Jesus cleansed the temple with the words, “How dare you turn my Father’s house into a market.”

There are some pockets of churches in America and some ministries that need to have their tables turned over because they are more concerned about profit than prayer.

As the Church goes, so goes the nation.  The condition of the Temple was an indication of the spiritual condition of the nation of Israel.  Their religion had become a dull routine, presided over by worldly minded men whose main desire was to exercise authority and get rich.

18Then the Jews demanded of him, “What miraculous sign can you show us to prove your authority to do all this?”

I find the words of the Jews most interesting. They do not argue with Jesus about the evil of making the temple courts an emporium. I suspect the Pharisees agree with Him on this point. The issue is not what has been done, but who has done it. They raise the issues of Jesus’ identity and authority, which is not altogether hard to understand.

Suppose you ran a stop sign and were pulled over by a police officer. If you were smart, you would politely listen to the officer, admit you were wrong, take the ticket, and pay it. If, however, you ran a stop sign and were pulled over by an irate citizen, you would be much less inclined to listen politely. Even if you were wrong, you would likely protest, “Who do you think you are, pulling me over to lecture me about my driving?”

In one sense, the Jews do view our Lord’s actions as a sign, for someone to cleanse the temple and correct wrongdoing found there implies having the authority to do so. If Jesus is acting in God’s behalf (they cannot yet grasp that He is acting as God), then let Him establish His credentials by an exercise of divine power. If He is acting with God’s authority, let Him perform a sign to prove it. We have an irreverent expression, which captures the spirit of the Jews’ challenge (who are not very reverent either): “Put up, or shut up!” They have thrown down the gauntlet. It is Jesus’ turn to respond.

Jesus does not give them a sign.  He does not even refer to any of the signs He seems to have already performed in Jerusalem. (water into wine; raising Lazarus from the dead) He is not about to jump through their hoops.  He does not even try to convince them who He is. Instead, He speaks to them of the “ultimate sign,” His death and resurrection: “Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up again” (verse 19).

Typically, the Jewish religious leaders can think only in the most literal terms (see Nicodemus in chapter 3).  They assume Jesus is referring to Herod’s temple, a temple which has been under construction for “forty-six years.” Does Jesus think He can build a temple in three days that has already been under construction for forty-six years and is not yet complete?

John tells his readers what we already know. Jesus is not speaking of that earthly temple; He knows that it, too, will soon be destroyed.  But He is speaking of Himself as the temple of God, and of His coming crucifixion. He is not trying to persuade these Jews to believe in Him, but rather to prophesy that they will not believe, and that they will put Him to death on Calvary.  His triumph will be evident in three days, when He will be “raised up” from the dead.

In other words, there is nothing that man can do, that the King of heaven can’t undo.  Whatever this world does to you, there is one who can fix it.

The ultimate damage – destruction – Jesus said, “I will raise it up again.

If the church collectively is the temple of our Lord, it is also true that we are individually “temples” of the Holy Spirit. Because this is true, our sins in the body are taken most seriously.

Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? 20 For you were bought with a price. Therefore glorify God with your body (1 Corinthians 6:19-20).

It may look like your life is beyond repair…Satan may try to destroy your soul, but there is no sin that King Jesus can’t cleanse.

This good news, this gospel, this grace, as amazing as it is, does not eliminate the need for us to treat our temples’ properly and glorify God.

“without holiness no one will see the Lord”

The problem today is just as it was 2,000 years ago in that temple – we don’t have a problem with sin.

We use terms like social environment…genetic disposition…issues

Ladies and gentlemen, sin is sin and it separates us from God.

Paul wrote to the church at Rome and told them, “Don’t be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”

Winning the battle over sin, require winning the battle in your mind.

What goes into your body = what goes into your mind and spirit

This is what you need to remember today

Last week – some things wont make sense until Jesus is glorified

This week – the king can repair what has been damaged

King of Prussia visiting the prisons

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