Faithlife Sermons

The Priority of Purity in Worship

From Glory to Glory: Jesus in the Gospel of John  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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The desire for purity in worship should motivate us to action

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God Demands our Worship ()

Explanation: Jesus and His disciples went up to Jerusalem for the Passover Feast. Passover was the observance of the great Deliverance that God performed for the Jews when He delivered them from the bonds of slavery in Egypt. The faithful Jews put the blood of the Passover lambs on the doorposts that night and the Death Angel passed over them. The observance of Passover was a perpetual requirement () and it was one of the three required feasts for all adult Jewish males ().
Illustrate: Consider birthdays. By the time a child is four or five years old they start to figure it out. On my birthday, I get a party with friends and cake and ice cream and lots of presents! There is an expectation of something special
Argument: Now consider the arrival of all the pilgrims in Jerusalem. They are there to commemorate and celebrate their great deliverance from slavery. The place they are to gather is the Temple where they are going to give worship and thanksgiving to the God who delivered them. This is to be a special time, a sacred time in which they honor Yahweh. Not only does God require this, there is, in the hearts of the faithful, a desire to give Him worship.
Application: There are many reasons people attend worship services. Some come out of habit, others from expectations of others, some arrive with the hope of personal gain (what’s in it for me?), and some come to worship the One True God of the Universe. What is your expectation today?

The Corruption of Worship is sinful ()

Explanation: When Jesus arrives at the Temple complex, He, and other worshipers, are met with bedlam in the bazaar. There He encountered the selling of livestock for sacrifice and those who exchanged money for the offerings. Both of these services were in an of themselves legitimate. Those Jews who came to Jerusalem from a distance could not easily bring their animal sacrifice with them. Instead, they bought the necessary animal sacrifice from the vendors in Jerusalem. Likewise, the service provided by the money changers was in and of itself legitimate and necessary. The Jerusalem Temple only accepted coins with the proper silver content, so the exchange was necessary.
What was sinful was the way and manner that these services were being offered. The livestock market was set up in the outer court or what was called the Court of the Gentiles. This area was supposed to be reserved for worship of Gentile Proselytes and Jewish women. And it was clogged with animals and noise and all that goes with it. The sin of the money changers was that they were charging high interest on the rate of exchange.
Illustrate: price gougers after a hurricane or major disaster. Gas prices go up to $5/gallon and motel rooms are doubled.
Argument: God’s house is to be a house of prayer and a place of worship. While there is nothing holy about the bricks and wood, the presence of God’s people gathered for worship consecrate the space into something special. Taking away from that experience or creating unnecessary barriers is sinful.
Instead of sacred peace - they encountered a carnival
Instead of furnishing a ministry - the money changers were fleecing the flock
Instead of providing access to unbelievers - the merchants were clogging the only open avenue.
Application: Do we sin by corrupting the purity of worship? Do we erect barriers by our traditions? We can an should provide access to God for all who enter this facility. And we ourselves should enter with clean hands & pure hearts

Passion for Purity in Worship should motivate us to action ()

Explanation: When Jesus encountered this obstruction of worship He was moved to action. Because He understood how critical the aspect of True Worship was for fallen humans, He did something about it. He made a scourge and ran out all of the sellers of livestock. He went to the money changers and tore up their trade and tossed aside their tables. Jesus cleaned house! Jesus experienced righteous anger and He acted in a corresponding manner. He did not injure any of the animals or genuinely harm any people. But He moved past politely asking them to leave - He was decisive and direct!
Illustrate: In an area near Aspen, CO in June of 2016 a mother heard cries for help coming from the yard where her 5 year of son was playing. Looking out she saw her son being attacked by a mountain lion. She rushed out and physically took her son away from the lion. The lion had the boy’s head in its mouth and the mother had to pry its jaws open to get her boy back.
Argument: One person with the right motivation is a force to be reckoned with. Jesus was only one man with just a small whip of cords. His righteous anger and His willingness to act made the difference. The merchants knew they were in the wrong and they scattered like cockroaches when the light is turned on!
The Apostle John cites and applies it to Jesus: “Zeal for your house will consume me.” Jesus was passionate about things pertaining to His Father, and His passion led to action. “John portrays Jesus as one who was consumed with passion for God’s glory and driven by a desire to remove from his people any obstacles to proper worship.” (Commentary on the NT use of the OT, Beale & Carson, p. 433)
Application: What are you passionate about? What motivates you to action? Some people want to save the Whales, some want to hug trees and go green, others rally against cruelty to animals. On a much larger platform, there are many who are passionate in the name of Allah (a false god) who are willing to die (and take others with them) for the lie they believe in.
For those of us with the Truth, what are we passionate about?

Standing up for proper Worship will bring about opposition ()

Explanation: After Jesus cleansed the Temple of unwanted persons and all associated activity, he was confronted by those identified simply as “the Jews.” In the NT, this identifier is commonly used of those who rejected Jesus and were hardened in their unbelief. These Jews were not happy with the actions of Jesus and wanted to know his source of authority. In essence, they were saying, ‘who are you to do such a thing by yourself?’ Even though Jesus did a good thing, a righteous thing, they were not happy with his for upsetting their religious system.
Argument: Jesus was in fact the Messiah, the Anointed One, and as such, He had the perfect right and the authority to purify the worship of the Temple. He declared His authority when He declared the Temple to be his Father’s house, a designation the Jews would have understood as Jesus claiming equality with God. Instead of accepting Him as the fulfillment of prophecy, they rejected His claims and demanded more “proof.” Jesus told them the only sign they would receive is that of the prophet Jonah. This time, Jesus put the sign in language of “destroying this temple” and in terms of His resurrection.
In modern times, if a person denounces the corruption of biblical worship, he or she will also encounter opposition. Taking a stand for holiness in the House of God and removing barriers that prevent others from experiencing God, will not be openly embraced by the world, or even the “church crowd.” Many have the mindset of ‘let a sleeping dog lie,” or “hey, it’s not as bad as it could be.” Neither are sufficient reasons not to deal with things that impair access to the holiness of God
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