Summary: Being an Authentic Follower of Jesus: Jesus Cleansing the Temple
Being an Authentic Follower of Jesus:
Jesus Cleansing the Temple
June 6, 2010
Big idea –Jesus will always act in ways that gets our attention.
Jesus is cleansing the temple because something was fundamentally wrong with the way worship was being facilitated. There was a need for national repentance. The temple was meant to be a place where the nations could gather to meet with God and received the forgiveness of sin. But the leaders were using the temple as a means for personal gain. None of us may be in that camp but all of us have wrong views of God, church, community, etc based upon any number of things – our upbringing, parental relationships, our personalities, etc.
The good news is that God will always act in ways that gets our attention. He is always acting mercifully to expose our sinfulness, our need for him, to transform us, and spare us from the coming judgment. We need to see all of life, every little thing that happens, as God’s means to get our attention, to awaken us to our sin and our need for change. Jesus is always graciously pointing out our sin – either directly or more commonly indirectly through others.
Jesus, as the rejected King is confronting the religious leaders and the nation as a whole because their faith had become a warped and man centered religious system. Last week we saw him weep over their hard heartedness and now he declares his authority over the temple by cleansing the corruption of the nation. He is acting in a way that demands their attention and he gets it (47-48).
Let me paint a picture for you. Jesus is in the temple in Jerusalem with thousands of pilgrims coming to participate in temple worship and they have to purchase animals in order to offer sacrifices. So there are thousands of pilgrims and thousands of animals in the Court of the Gentiles. Envision a third world market place. There are also money changers because people come from all over and need to exchange their foreign currency to purchase animals with local currency and for the temple tax because you could not use pagan coins in the temple. So you have this street market and you have money changers making it possible to shop. Both were necessary and acceptable services. What Jesus was angry about is the inflated prices they are all charging at the approval of the religious leaders, especially the priests. They were robbing God’s people financially and spiritually by stealing the opportunity to know God. Ministry had become means of personal gain. That is a danger for anyone in ministry and that is why there are seven or eight warnings related to leadership and money in the New Testament.
“For an overseer, as God's steward, must be above reproach. He must not be arrogant or quick-tempered or a drunkard or violent or greedy for gain (Tit 1:7).”
“These are grumblers, malcontents, following their own sinful desires; they are loud-mouthed boasters, showing favoritism to gain advantage (Jud 1:16).”
I want to address another issue about the temple and how it relates to church and buildings. The temple in the mind of the Jew was the dwelling place of God. Not that God was contained in a building but it was the place of God’s presence with the people, the place of forgiveness of sins. But it was only temporary and provisional (21:5-9). Jesus is the new temple, the one who dwelled among us; who mediated Gods presence.
And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth (Joh 1:14).
As his people we now mediate his presence because he has given us his Spirit (John 14:16-18; Eph 2:19-22).
We as God’s people are now the dwelling place of God and we mediate his presence to the world.
What does this passage mean for us? First it means that leadership must always live with the best interests of the body, Gods’ family in mind. All of us that hold a position of leadership – elders, Sunday School directors, Advisory board, trustees, building team, etc – need to keep the best interests of our body and where God is taking us, our vision and mission in mind. Leadership is God’s grace to his church to lead and care for it. Leadership is the God ordained means by which he moves and works and leads the body of Christ. Leaders lead and care for the flock by fulfilling the mission of God – winning, training, and sending. We do not exist to maintain our existence we exist to fulfill the mission of God. Maintenance is self serving and centered around building our own kingdom; mission is other centered and centered around Gods kingdom.