Summary: A sermon about Mark’s version of Palm Sunday, telling us that when Jesus arrived in Jerusalem, he went to the Temple and looked it over.
Hillsborough Reformed Church at Millstone
April 9, 2006 Palm Sunday
“What Does Our Lord See?”
“11Then he entered Jerusalem and went into the temple; and when he had looked around at everything, as it was already late, he went out to Bethany with the twelve.”
I wonder what Jesus would think if he walked into our church this morning?
What would bring a smile to his face? What would lead Jesus to rebuke us?
When I came to this church as a candidate for your pulpit, I was given a tour of the parsonage and the church. What do you think a minister looks for when he or she sees the church building for the first time? I was interested, of course, in the condition of the buildings. The church and Memorial Hall were basically clean and orderly. Oh there was some cutter, but it was good clutter – clutter that indicates a lively church.
I was impressed with the feeling of history here. You cannot help but be drawn back to colonial times when you enter this kind of building. I like that feeling.
The Sunday School rooms were festooned with projects done by the children of the church and with allsorts of exciting things that bespoke vitality in the church.
All in all, the church seemed alive and vital and active.
When was the last time you bought a house? What were you looking for?
Right now cable TV is full of shows about buying and selling houses and what makes them attractive to buyers and what sellers can do to get the value they want out of their houses. There are TV shows like Sell This House, Flip this House, Design to Sell.
A kitchen big enough for entertaining? Adequate counter space? Plenty of light? Good sized closets? If you are like most people, when you went into a house you might consider buying, you wanted one that did not have the same faults as the house in which you were presently living – a leaky basement, bedrooms that were too small or too dark.
The gospel of Mark says that after Jesus entered Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, he “looked around at everything.”
That is kind of amazing, since Jesus is the Son of God. Being divine as well as human, he must have known all about the Temple. Except one thing. Except what the Temple was like to a carpenter from Galilee. Jesus wouldn’t have known that. Now he would know what it was like for a man to approach the Temple.
What did Jesus see? He saw a great throng – it was Passover the city was jam-packed with people there to sacrifice and celebrate. No doubt the reason he stayed in Bethany, two miles from the city, is that there would be no vacancy in the city. Jesus could say, “Been there, done that!”
He saw much noise and commotion, smoke rising constantly from the altar as tens of thousands of lambs were sacrificed. He would have seen confusion on the faces of people who weren’t sure what they should be doing. And we know Jesus saw something that made him very angry – people being cheated by money changers in the Temple.
And think about this! Here is an astonishing truth. There were parts of the Temple to which Jesus could not go! Chances are, if he was making a sacrifice he might be admitted to the Court of the Priests, but only for the sacrifice of his lamb and then he would be whisked away to make room for the next of the tens of thousands of Jewish men bringing their lambs. But Jesus brought no lamb, so the Court of the Priests would be closed off to him.
But only the High Priest could enter the Holy of Holies, the inner sanctuary space, the most sacred space of all.
The most sacred parts of the Temple, thus would be off limits to the Son of God!
No one knew it, but this was the beginning of the end for the Temple.
A major change was coming. God was no longer going to be confined to the Temple. Like tearing a curtain in two, God was going to rush out into the world to embrace his people, forgiven in Jesus Christ.
And so today, our church buildings are tools for worship. They are not cages that hold God, but centers, places of assembly, where God’s people gather for worship, to hear the good news, and go back out into the world transformed.
So what does Jesus see when he comes into a church?
Well, you know. He looks into the hearts of the worshipers. Jesus isn’t so much looking for new carpet, or perfect furniture, or the latest in technology.