Summary: His love has arrived and he desperately desires for it to fall on you. Are you sold out to his love or are you selling out?
Zeal for You Consumes Him
Pastor Jim Luthy
After this he went down to Capernaum with his mother and brothers and his disciples. There they stayed for a few days. 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 2:12-17, NIV)
Let me say right up front that John did not include this story in Jesus’ life to give you permission to lash out when you are angry. I know you would like it to be so! So would I. When I’m frustrated with my kids and I want to yell at them, I want to justify it as “righteous anger.” When I, the pastor, don’t have the cooperation I would like from you, I am tempted to exercise my “righteous anger.” Of course we all know that would not be right. Taken to extremes, “righteous anger” has been used to justify all kinds of inequity, like spousal abuse and killing abortion doctors. Jesus did not say he was angry. Nor did John ever comment that Jesus was angry. That’s not what this story is about.
This story is about a very fierce love. It is a jealous love. It is all about Jesus’ love for the Father and the things that were meant for the Father. Ultimately, that means it is about his love for you. He is consumed with love for you. Let me explain.
Look carefully at what the disciples remembered had been written: “Zeal for your house consumes me.” King David inked those words nearly 600 years earlier in a prophecy about the Messiah. “Zeal” does not mean passion alone. It means jealousy. One of the marks of the Messiah would be jealousy for the house of God. The disciples remembered that when they saw Jesus clearing the temple.
Clearing the temple was the act of one who is very passionate, but in complete control. He drove out the sheep and cattle with a whip. Do you know why? Was it because he was angry? No. He used a whip (now get this, it is very profound) because whips make sheep move! The animals used for sacrifices were not to be sold in the temple courts. Jesus moved them. He scattered the coins of the moneychangers because there was no place for profiteering in the temple courts. Then he rebuked those who sold doves, saying, “Get these out of here! How dare you turn my Father’s house into a market!”
Jesus was motivated with a jealous love. He was jealous for the Father’s dwelling place—the temple—to be a place for the Father, not a place for profiteers and swindlers. David prophesied that this jealousy would consume the Messiah. That means the jealousy of Jesus for his Father’s house ate at him. It never stopped filling his mind and capturing his attention. It wasn’t a zeal that came and went. It was his never-ending passion to see the Father’s house to be a place of worship and a place of reverence and purity in which the Father could dwell.
Have you ever been really jealous? I’m not talking about envy or coveting. Nor am I talking about being suspicious. I’m talking about being consumed with jealousy because the one you love has given his or her affections to someone or something else. The wife whose husband spends more time at the bowling alley than home with her is jealous. The husband whose wife has left him for another man is jealous. The person who is consumed with jealousy will act drastically to restore that love. When we respond to our jealousy in the flesh—without the Spirit of God—we tend to drive a deeper wedge between us and our loved one.
My first year out of high school I dated a girl quite seriously. I think I loved her and we even talked about marriage. I had a great relationship with her parents. Her mom helped me find a job at the restaurant where she worked. When that girl broke up with me because she was attracted to a guy she met at the Kentucky Fried Chicken where she worked, I was really jealous. That jealousy consumed me for more than a year, even until after that other guy was out of her life and she had moved on to college at Central Washington University. One time her mother learned that I was heading over to visit some friends at Central and asked if I would take her daughter a care package. Happy to oblige, I took the package and headed over the mountains. Later that evening, with a few beers and a lot of bitterness in me, I decided to check out what was in the package. The chocolate chip cookies were pretty good. The bra didn’t fit me though. Do you think I had any chance of restoring that relationship after I ransacked her personal package? No way. That’s how jealousy can consume us. It’s also how that zeal can cause us to do things we regret. In Shakespeare’s Othello, Iago told the noble Moor, “0! beware, my lord, of jealousy; It is the green--eyed monster which doth mock the meat it feeds on.”