Summary: God's work in view of the empty faith of the Temple...
Concordia Lutheran Church
The 4th week of Easter, April 25, 2010
Let Us Rejoice! He Calls to Us!
† IN HIS NAME †
May you and all of those you love hear plainly, that our Father has made Jesus both Lord and Christ. May you hear that He knows you each by name, that He has cleansed you and is your Shepherd, your Guide, your Protector, Knowing this – Let us rejoice! AMEN!
In the Shadows… of Silence…
It would have been a cold day, probably no warmer than 45 degrees, as the wind swept across the temple mountaintop in Jerusalem. Walking in Solomon’s Porch would have kept the blood circulating, as Jesus taught about the Kingdom of God.
It was the celebration of the restoration of the temple after the horrible desecration of a few centuries before, during the time between the Old and New Testament. As Jesus and those with him walked, they would look across the 35 acre courtyard, and they would see the restoration of the third Temple – Herod’s temple occurring. Herod planned, and wanted this to be the most glorious temple of all. Some 90 feet high, built on a raised mound, nearly no expense was spared in its being built – as Herod would style himself in the Roman pattern, and place his family symbol, and eagle, atop the edifice.
No matter how much Herod would try, this temple would be so much less than its predecessors. The most noted occurrence in the temple would not testify to it as the place God has put His name, but instead, just the opposite.
There was no Ark of the Covenant within it’s Holiest place, and no smoke would fill it as in days past, as God’s presence was known among his people. How could the priests simply go through the routines, how could the people have confidence in the sacrifices they offered? How empty, how hollow this edifice would have seemed.
It is no wonder that the Jewish people, as they heard about Jesus, would gather to him, hoping beyond hope, that the long awaited Messiah would restore the glory of Israel, that the beautiful temple would once again be the place where people would come, and know they were in the presence of God. They heart cries out for some hope.
John records it this way, “How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly.”
They Didn’t Listen
The scriptures had told them clearly, what they could expect of the Messiah. They didn’t grasp the old promises, from the garden, where Eve was promised her descendant would crush the power of the tempter; to Moses’ promise that God would raise up another prophet who would lead God’s people and establish anew a covenant; to David’s psalms, singing praise to the God who would provide for His people; to Isaiah’s promise of the child who would be called Wonderful Counselor, Almighty God, Everlasting Father and Prince of Peace, who would suffer and bear the sins of all.
To this promise of Jeremiah, found in chapter 3:15
15 And I will give you shepherds after my own heart, who will guide you with knowledge and understanding. 16 “And when your land is once more filled with people,” says the LORD, “you will no longer wish for ‘the good old days’ when you possessed the Ark of the LORD’s Covenant. You will not miss those days or even remember them, and there will be no need to rebuild the Ark.
Jeremiah 3:15-16 (NLT)
Jesus had told them about himself, as he proclaimed the kingdom of God was there, among them. He taught them, as they noted, with an authority that went beyond anything understood.
The miracles and power demonstrating God’s love told them that Jesus was the anointed one.
Yet, they didn’t hear…. they didn’t see, they didn’t grasp, that what they desired, to know they were in the presence of God, was happening in a way that David and Solomon and Isaiah and Jeremiah could only see as a far off hope.
My question is this morning, do we hear? Do we grasp that we live, moment by moment in the presence of God, or are we too found anxiously wondering where God is?
Why didn’t they hear? Why don’t people today? In the gospel, Jesus claimed it was because they weren’t part of His flock, that they didn’t hear His voice, because if they had, they would have followed, and known that they were given the gift of eternal life. Can the same be said of us today? That we are so distracted by our temples, by the things we are building, that we don’t hear, or even bother to take time to hear the voice of God calling to us? Are we so caught up by the world, and its demand of our lives, that we fail to hear the Voice of the one who spoke us into existence?