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Clear the Temple

4 March, 2018

13. When it was almost time for the Jewish Passover, Jesus went up to Jerusalem. 14. In the temple courts he found people selling cattle, sheep and doves, and others sitting at tables exchanging money. 15. So he made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the temple courts, both sheep and cattle; he scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. 16. To those who sold doves he said, “Get these out of here! Stop turning my Father’s house into a market!” 17. His disciples remembered that it is written: “Zeal for your house will consume me.” (Psalm 69:9)
18. The Jews then responded to him, “What sign can you show us to prove your authority to do all this?”
19. Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days.”
20. They replied, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and you are going to raise it in three days?” 21. But the temple he had spoken of was his body. 22. After he was raised from the dead, his disciples recalled what he had said. Then they believed the scripture and the words that Jesus had spoken.
John 2:13-22

13. さて、ユダヤ人の過越の祭が近づいたので、イエスはエルサレムに上られた。 14. そして牛、羊、はとを売る者や両替する者などが宮の庭にすわり込んでいるのをごらんになって、 15. なわでむちを造り、羊も牛もみな宮から追いだし、両替人の金を散らし、その台をひっくりかえし、 16. はとを売る人々には「これらのものを持って、ここから出て行け。わたしの父の家を商売の家とするな」と言われた。 17. 弟子たちは、「あなたの家を思う熱心が、わたしを食いつくすであろう」と書いてあることを思い出した。 18. そこで、ユダヤ人はイエスに言った、「こんなことをするからには、どんなしるしをわたしたちに見せてくれますか」。 19. イエスは彼らに答えて言われた、「この神殿をこわしたら、わたしは三日のうちに、それを起すであろう」。 20. そこで、ユダヤ人たちは言った、「この神殿を建てるのには、四十六年もかかっています。それだのに、あなたは三日のうちに、それを建てるのですか」。 21. イエスは自分のからだである神殿のことを言われたのである。 22. それで、イエスが死人の中からよみがえったとき、弟子たちはイエスがこう言われたことを思い出して、聖書とイエスのこの言葉とを信じた。
ヨハネによる福音書 2:13-22

The table flip game.

In today’s reading we heard about Jesus clearing the temple. [Image] This must have been one of those really awkward moments. It was Passover time, a holy time for the Jews when people were supposed to be on their best behaviour, and at their most devout. Then Jesus comes into the temple and goes bananas. He makes a whip and drives out the cattle. You can imagine the stampede, the noise of all the hooves scuttling on the ground and all the braying and lowing of the cattle, and all the owners chasing their livestock down the street and the livestock trampling the food and clothing stalls. But Jesus is only warming up. He then scatters the money of money changers all over the floor. It probably sounded like tipping a draw full of cutlery down the stairs. And then for his grand finale, He flips all the tables over. I expect it would have been just like playing that table flip game in the arcade. Only it wasn’t a game. It was really serious, and Jesus was really angry.

Why was He so angry? And was this behaviour really appropriate even in anger? What happened to the meek and mild Jesus, the gentle Jesus of mercy and grace, the love-your-neighbour Jesus?

There are times when sin must be rooted out aggressively. For Jesus, His aggression was never directed toward the world. It was never directed toward the lost. Jesus’ anger and aggression was always directed toward the religious people. It was the Pharisees, the teachers of the law, and the temple workers who bore the brunt of Jesus’ anger because they were the ones who were corrupting the the name of the Lord. They were the ones who were misleading people into godless religion. And Jesus loved the lost and broken of the world so much, that this religious blindness made Him furious.

The religious people were making God’s house of prayer for all nations into a den of thieves. And so Jesus was cleaning out His Father’s house. He was cleansing the temple.

It says in 1 Corinthians 6:19 that our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit.

Our bodies are temples. Lent is a good time for us to cleanse our temples (bodies). As we prepare our hearts to understand anew the work of the cross and receive a fresh filling of the Holy Spirit, we need to ask Jesus to cleanse our temples, just as He cleansed the temple building 2000 years ago at Pentecost.

We can start with the physical. We can change our eating, drinking, sleeping and lifestyle habits to honour and bring health to our physical bodies/temples in which the Holy Spirit resides. But it’s much more than that. Jesus said,

But the things that come out of a person’s mouth come from the heart, and these defile them. For out of the heart come evil thoughts—[thoughts of] murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. These are what defile a person.
Matthew 15:18-20a

しかし、口から出て行くものは、心の中から出てくるのであって、それが人を汚すのである。 というのは、悪い思い、すなわち、殺人、姦淫、不品行、盗み、偽証、誹りは、心の中から出てくるのであって、これらのものが人を汚すのである。

We tend to go very soft on ourselves, don’t we? But we need to be ruthless and aggressive in dealing with the sins of our hearts and the sins in our lives, just as Jesus was ruthless and aggressive in the temple.

Let me clarify this. We don’t put ourselves down. We don’t condemn ourselves. This is not an invitation to a pity party.

“Our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”
Ephesians 6:12


We examine our lives, and with the help of the Holy Spirit, we identify the sin in them. We then turn from the sin, we repent. We do this first with God, but it doesn’t necessarily stop there. If we have wronged others, we make it right again with them. If we need help overcoming our sin, we connect with an accountability partner who is mature in the faith, and we confess our sins to one another. But whatever you do, I want to encourage you today to not go soft on sin. This is a call to be aggressive in rooting out the sin in your life.

Jesus said,

If your right eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell.
Matthew 5:29,30


Just to be very clear, this is not a teaching about self-mutilation. Even a blind man can lust. It’s about being aggressive in cutting the sin and the bad influences out of our lives.

This was the very first message that Jesus brought into the world. This is how He started His ministry:

Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.
Matthew 3:2


In v17 of today’s reading, when Jesus cleared the temple, the disciples remembered the scripture that says,

“Zeal for your house will consume me”.

We studied zeal last week.

Jesus is zealous for you. He is zealous for your sanctification. In simple terms, Jesus really, really wants you to be holy and clean and right with God. He wants to lead you in repentance and forgive you your sins – this is a kindness of God. He desires to fill you with His Holy Spirit.

But it’s never that easy. In v18 of today’s reading we read that the Jews demanded a miraculous sign for Jesus to prove Himself. Isn’t it just the same today? When Jesus goes about entering our hearts, convicting us of sin and cleaning up our lives, we hear the voices of dissent. They come from cynics outside, and they come from the weaknesses of our own heart. And the voices say, ‘Who is this Jesus? Is He even real? Is He really who He said He was? Let Him prove Himself first. Let’s see a miracle. Then I’ll believe. Then I’ll act.’

Jesus’ answer to the Jews is the same answer for us as we respond to the voices of dissent. And that answer is the very heart of the gospel:

Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days.”
John 2:19


The Jews had no idea what Jesus was talking about at the time, but of course Jesus was talking about His death and resurrection which came three days later. Whenever you face doubt, or criticism or fear, go to the heart of gospel: the resurrection of Christ. Because one thing critics cannot contend with is the missing body of Jesus. The countless sightings of the resurrected Jesus by the disciples and others – there were 500 of them – and the radical change in the disciples and others by the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, doesn’t help their cause either.

The resurrection of Christ is the proof. Jesus lives, and He lives today to work in your life. Let Him. Let Him cleanse your temple. Follow His lead and cast out any sin and worldliness in your life, and let Him fill you with His presence.

We’re going to take communion now. As we do this, we remember that Jesus died on the cross in our place, to pay the penalty for our sin, so that we can be made holy and right with God. It’s only by the atoning death of Jesus that a person can be saved. There is no other way to the Father. There has been no other provision given for righteousness. There is no other name under heaven by which a person can be saved. Jesus alone is the mediator between people and God. We remember this as we eat the bread and drink the grape juice.

Having confessed our sins, when we take communion, we partake in the divine presence. The Spirit of Jesus enters us and makes us holy. The Spirit of God and sin cannot co-exist. We must turn from our sins aggressively before we can call on the name of Jesus, receive forgiveness and enter new life. Let’s take time to do that now. If you need help with this, come forward (or at the back) and pray with us.