March 2018  
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3-4-18 Sermon

Sermon Lent 3 John 2:13-25

It’s easy to see the passion—emotional side of Jesus in this passage. But this scripture points out very clearly, Jesus was angry.    All of us have our emotions flare up and suddenly our anger spews out--which then usually results in something we regret.  But the important truth here is not all anger is sin.  It’s what we do with our anger that’s really the issue. We know that Jesus was perfect and without sin.  Yet we see Him in this story quite upset to say the least.                                             

Jerusalem was filled with people celebrating Passover, that event when God had delivered them out of Egypt.  God told the Israelites that they must remember what God had done for them by sacrificing an innocent lamb —and if possible, it should be done in Jerusalem. So thousands of Jews had flooded the city.  Like the Olympics had come to town. The economic impact was huge.  So shops were set up where the people were going to be ... at the temple.                                                 

By the time Jesus arrived, the temple had basically been turned into a giant marketplace.  

Passover required everyone to have a lamb. Some people brought their own, others traveling a great distance, purchased it at the temple.    But even if you decided to bring your own animal, it had to be perfect, no spot, or blemish and the priest was the one who made that decision.  The priest turned down many animals—forcing people to buy one from them.  They charged higher prices and the people had no choice but to pay it. Religious blackmail. Moneychangers were needed because Roman coins were not allowed in the temple—only shekels…but the rate of exchange for temple coins was not fair.                                                                                                             

Given these conditions, Jesus had a right to be angry.  Animals, people, money, scattered everywhere as he drove them all out.  His voice rang out through the temple yard ... this is not a marketplace, this is God’s house-- a house of prayer.                  

So Jesus literally cleans house and it’s not easy, but He had no choice. Are there times when the temples of the Holy Spirit—our hearts—need to be cleansed?  When our spiritual priorities have gotten out of order?                                                                   

The discipline of the moneychangers wasn’t just for them. It was a teaching lesson for the disciples and for us. Jesus’ actions that day left an impression on them they would never forget. They learned from what they saw. They remembered God’s word. “Passion for God’s house burns within me.“  When we face life’s challenges do we go to God’s word?                                              

Do we use it to make decisions, find comfort, reassurance?                                                                     

 King David said, thy word have I hid in my heart so that I will not sin against You.”                              

We cannot hide God’s word in our hearts if you don’t know it. If we haven’t hidden God’s word in our hearts we won’t have it when we need it the most.                                                                                  

Did you notice how the Jews conveniently changed the subject and began to demand some answers from Jesus? Basically they were asking Jesus “who do you think you are?” Do something to prove your authority and on at least 2 more occasions they   demanded that Jesus show them a sign.   We still do these same things today. I’ll go to church Lord, if you will just make so and so stop drinking.   

OR Lord if you will just get me out of this…just this one time I’ll live like I should.                              

OR Lord if you will just answer this one prayer, I’ll do whatever you ask.                                                  

The religious leaders asked Jesus for a sign. But He simply answered their question. “Destroy this temple and 3 days later I will raise it up.”  Of course, Jesus wasn’t talking about a building, but himself. These very same Jews would be responsible for having Jesus crucified. Jesus was telling them that even after they killed him, Guess what! In 3 days, I’ll be back!!!   But they didn’t understand that either, because they chose not to believe.                                                                        

For those in CHRIST Jesus, life’s circumstances can result in greater faith. The disciples saw how Jesus reacted to the merchants in the temple. They recognized the sin just as Jesus did. They remembered we have fallen way short of God’s holiness and are in need of a Savior. But it wasn’t until after the resurrection that they understood.                                                              

What does it take for God to get your attention?                                                                                           

When you face trials or when God is testing you, how do you respond?                                                   

1. Do you get angry and blow God off?  When God tried to get Jonah’s attention, he ran. God tried to speak to Moses and Moses got angry. His anger kept him from entering the Promised Land.                                                                                            

2. Do you bargain with the Lord?                                                                                                                   

3. Are you still a skeptic demanding proof?       

4. Or do you submit to the Lord and grow in faith?                                                                                       

It has been my experience, the best thing you can do when God tries to get your attention? Just say yes Lord, your servant is listening.                                                                                                           

Authentic faith in Jesus has one goal--to help us grow in love for God and one another. Faith reminds us that we really matter, not because we are remarkable, but because our God is remarkable. “God so loved the world . . .” is the heart of Lent.