Summary: Through his cleansing of the temple, Jesus reveals that we must not stand in the way of those who come to worship God.
Introduction: Have you ever wanted – even needed – something but you couldn’t get it. It was right there in front of you. It was within your reach. But you couldn’t get it. It was in front of you, you wanted it and yet something or someone prevented you from having what you wanted.
We’ve all been there. I’ve been there more than once, but never was it so painful and so frustrating and so overwhelming as it was when Katy, my oldest daughter, was born. As many of you know, Katy was born two months pre-mature. She decided that the world should be graced with her presence as soon as possible…so two months before her due date she joined us.
The problem with a baby joining the world two months early is that a baby isn’t ready to join the world yet. There’s a reason it takes nine months…not seven…for a baby to be born. And when they show up early some of the basic functions that we take for granted are up and running yet…like breathing, swallowing and sucking (thus eating), the ability to handle stress, etc. All of this to say that the world we live in is an incredibly hostile environment for a premature baby.
As a result, the hospital staff, doctors, etc. take great pains to protect the little one and my Katy was hooked up to all kinds of monitors, and tubes and IVs and placed in a small plexiglass box where we could see her, but rarely touch her. For the first month of her life, she lived in this little glass box and we could only hold her once every few hours to try and feed her.
We lived in Concordia, KS which was not equipped to deal with this kind of medical crisis so Katy was in the hospital in Wichita…more than two hours away. Merita stayed with friends in Wichita during the week and I stayed in Concordia and worked and took care of the boys. Every Monday I would drive Merita down to Wichita and for a couple of hours I would get to see Kaitlyn…even hold her for a few minutes…but if the timing were wrong, if we were late and missed the time when the staff said she could come out of the box…then I wouldn’t get to hold her until Friday when I picked Merita up so she could spend the weekend with us back in Concordia.
Let me tell you that when you want to hold your little girl and can’t it’s an incredibly frustrating, hopeless, painful feeling. What you want is right there….but someone or something prevents you from having it…it hurts.
My inability to hold my little girl when I wanted to was for her own good. So she could grow and develop and come home to live with us as a healthy newborn. And I knew that so it made the pain bearable…but just barely. However, there are times when we want or need something and it is prevented, we are blocked from getting that which we so desperately need or want and the prevention is not for the good. It’s because someone is calloused or selfish or is just plain evil and they prevent us from getting what we need. Sometimes its just carelessness on the part of others that block our access to what we want and need.
That’s what we’re looking at today. Jesus is confronted with a situation where people want…actually need…something desperately, but there are others that are preventing them from getting what they need.
As we continue to unfold and look at this compelling portrait of Jesus we going to dive into the book of John again. We’re picking up where we left off last week. We’re in John chapter 2.
I want to begin by reading this passage…taking a quick glimpse at the narrative that John gives us and then we’ll dive into it. And remember…with John you have layers to the story. You have the historical event that he recounts, but you also have the “Story behind the story.”
When it was almost time for the Jewish Passover, Jesus went up to Jerusalem. In the temple courts he found men selling cattle, sheep and doves, and others sitting at tables exchanging money. So he made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the temple area, both sheep and cattle; he scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. To those who sold doves he said, "Get these out of here! How dare you turn my Father’s house into a market!"
His disciples remembered that it is written: "Zeal for your house will consume me."
John 2:13-17 (NIV)
We have here a compelling portrait of the anger of Jesus. Here is a man who was gentle and compassionate. Who cared for those who could not care for themselves. And here we see his anger revealed. This is an important event in the life and ministry of Jesus. It is recorded in all 4 Gospel accounts.