Summary: Jesus was a zealous man. He was passionate about God. He was passionate about God's temple, that day that He tossed out the money changers. He is passionate about His Church - We are the temple of the Holy Spirit, after all.
What do you do with the passage that Breda just read? Is it very familiar? Is it troubling to you? The gospels can be seen as a series of moments in Jesus’ life.
We’re presented here with a moment in Jesus’ life that a lot of folks have struggled with. What do you do with Jesus making a whip? What do you do with the level of anger expressed here by the Son of God? What do you do?
How many here saw the movie version of C.S Lewis’s The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe? The book and the movie are essentially part one of a series of books by Lewis called The Chronicles of Narnia, and Narnia is another world outside of our own.
It’s a world inhabited by centaurs, dwarves, talking wolves and beavers, fawns, and all kinds of mythical creatures. The land of Narnia is covered in an endless winter as the result of the cruel White Witch. And this world is just waiting for this winter to end.
The central character of this book is a lion by the name of Aslan – and Aslan represents Christ. And in The Chronicles of Narnia Lewis is asking what it would look like if Christ had to come to such a world to bring salvation.
One of the differences between the book and the movie is the portrayal of Aslan. When the four children – Lucy, Edmund, Susan, and Peter – end up in Narnia Mr. and Mrs. Beaver tell them about Aslan. They learn that Aslan is the true King and the son of the “Emperor-Beyond-The-Sea.”
When they learn that Aslan is a lion – the Lion – and not a man, Susan says, “Is he – quite safe? I shall feel rather nervous about meeting a lion.” Mr. Beaver replies, “If there’s anyone who can appear before Aslan without their knees knocking, they’re either braver than most or just quite silly.”
Then the youngest of the children, little Lucy, says, “Then he isn’t safe?” To this question Mr. Beaver replies, “Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he’s not safe. But he’s good.” [Thanks to Derek Melanson and his sermon “The True Temple” - http://www.sermoncentral.com/sermons/the-true-temple-derek-melanson-sermon-on-lordship-of-christ-88198.asp
In today’s passage we see a moment in Jesus’ life when this perhaps is very clear.
As we start to look at today’s passage more closely, we find that the action of the scene is taking place in the Temple. Why the temple? What is the temple?
The Temple Was a Place of Reconciliation
The first thing we need to understand is that there was a reason for the temple to exist, a reason it had been built over generations.
It was a place to worship God, yes, but most importantly it was intended as a place where reconciliation could happen. The sin in the heart of every man and woman is a barrier to communion with God.
The remedy to sin has never been, biblically, to balance the amount of sin in our lives with an equal or better amount of good deeds.
The remedy for sin is atonement, it is sacrifice. Sin has a price that must be paid. In the temple, sacrifices were made to pay for the debt of sin.
That’s why the temple was there in a nutshell. It had a clear purpose and function in people’s lives. But it had degraded into something else.
The Temple should have been a place
1. where people could come to commune with God,
2.to learn from the teachers of the Law of how God expected them to live (for example living out the Ten Commandments that Isaiah read to us in our Old Testament reading this morning) and
3. to bring their sacrifices for their sins.
What had it become. A rip off zone
1. You weren’t allowed to sacrifice unless you bought your animal or bird from the sellers in the Temple Courtyard.
2. You could not use everyday money to purchase the bird or animal, you had to buy with Temple money.
The pilgrim was being doubly ripped off -
1. once with the exchange rate and
2. secondly with the exorbitant prices required for sacrificial animals.
So the temple had a purpose that was being distorted, abused.
We might and think that Jesus was upset that the religious system was being corrupted, and that’s why He overturned the tables and drove out the money changers. But this was much more personal to Jesus. This was a family affair.
What does He say? v16 To those who sold doves he said, "Get these out of here! How dare you turn my Father's house into a market!"
Humans tend to think: “Temple” or “Church”; maybe “institution”. Jesus, who was fully human and fully God, was thinking: “My Father’s house”.