Summary: It’s time to stop playing and start praying.
“Has It Not Been Written: My House Shall Be Called a House of Prayer?”
Rev. Brian Bill
A preacher’s young daughter noticed that her father always paused and bowed his head for a moment before starting his sermon. One day she asked him why. “Well, honey,” he began, thrilled that his daughter was paying attention during his sermons, “I’m asking the Lord to help me preach a good sermon.” To which she replied, “Then, how come He doesn’t do it?”
Would you pause and pray with me right now before I begin preaching?
This past Wednesday was Parent Night at AWANA. I enjoyed hanging out with Megan and was very impressed with the caliber of the teaching and shepherding and loving that takes place in this ministry. When I was upstairs for council time Lisa Mayback did a great job communicating the Bible to the girls. While I was sitting next to Megan, I was able to see a girl in front of us as she opened up her Bible and Sunday’s bulletin fell out. I noticed that she had something written on the cover and so I leaned forward and asked her what it said. She held it up and said: A little is always a lot in the hands of the Lord. That was the summary of the sermon last week. I applauded her for writing it down and she said something like: You said it a lot so it was easy to remember. Let me give you today’s sermon in a sentence: Don’t play; it’s time to pray.
Jesus certainly preached some great sermons, didn’t He? The Sermon on the Mount comes to mind. Much of his preaching was done through parables like the one about the prodigal son and the teaching about talents. People admired Jesus and as we learned last week, they often ran to greet Him so they could hear more questions like this one: “How many loaves do you have?” His compassion led Him to feed the 5,000 and His tenderness caused children to flock to Him. Most of us picture Him as gentle and kind, and He was, but there’s another side to the Savior. We tasted this two weeks ago when Jesus asked this convicting question from Mark 12:24: “Are you not in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God?”
We need the complete picture of Christ, not just the caricatures that we like. He was the perfect embodiment of grace and truth, of mercy and holiness, of love and zeal. And in our penchant for promoting only the characteristics of Christ that we like by emphasizing the utilitarian aspects of what works for us, we have marginalized His majesty. We would rather avoid those passages where He seems untamable and unpredictable, especially when His words make us wince and His actions make us uncomfortable.
Today we’re going to study a sermon that Jesus preached and a question that He asked that will smash some of your images of Him. The timing is the day after Palm Sunday, in the last days before He was crucified. The setting is Jerusalem, specifically the Temple. Please turn in your Bible to Mark 11:11. After hearing the cheering and the hosannas, “Jesus entered Jerusalem and went to the Temple. He looked around at everything, but since it was already late, he went out to Bethany with the Twelve.” The phrase “looked around” means that He examined everything closely. This reminds me of what Nehemiah did in Nehemiah 2:13: “examining the walls of Jerusalem.”
God’s people actually had three different Temples.
1. Solomon’s Temple. Almost one thousand years earlier, Solomon constructed the first Temple and we read that God’s Shekinah glory filled it so full that the priests couldn’t get in (see 1 Kings 8:10-11). The Temple was where God dwelt and where His people could meet with Him. It was the holiest place in the land and the focal point of their worship. Hundreds of years later, this Temple was destroyed and God’s people were sent to Babylon.
2. Zerubbabel’s Temple. When they returned seventy years later, a second Temple was constructed, which was nothing compared to Solomon’s. It’s been called Zerubbabel’s Temple (see Haggai 2:3) and it lasted for about 500 years.
3. Herod’s Temple. This was an amazing edifice and was built as a grandiose gift to the Jews and as a tribute to Herod’s haughtiness, taking 46 years to finish. To give you a feel for the size, the columns were so mammoth that it took three people with their hands outstretched to surround a column at its base. [Demonstrate] Everything in the Temple symbolized something and was used to help communicate God’s power and purposes. For example, when children would ask about the meaning behind the pillars, parents would answer: “Our God is so great that He upholds the heavens and the earth.”