Savage Jesus – John 2
This message is a part of our series on the Gospel of John.
Find the rest of the messages in this series here.
I know that many of you, like me, married someone that you met in high school, but imagine with me that you’re returning to your 25th high school reunion and you’re attending with your spouse who didn’t know you in your high school days. Your high school friends say to your spouse, “boy have we got some stories to tell you!” For some of you, that would be terrifying because you’ve probably changed a lot since high school, but also because your friends aren’t going to tell the mundane everyday stories, they’re going to tell the most extreme stories. They’re not going to tell about the time that there was a book report and you finished it on time and got a “B.” They’re going to tell stories about the pranks you pulled, trouble you got into, etc.
When John tells us the story of his best friend’s life, he’s told us that he’s going to tell us all of the signs so that we might believe and having believed in his name we might have life. John’s whole point is to show you evidence from Jesus’ life that He is who He claimed He is. Last week we saw that John shared with us the story of Jesus at a wedding being generous. Today we are going to see a very different angle of Jesus’ character, but I think that when we are done going over this passage we’ll see that the Jesus of the beginning of chapter 2 is the same as the end of chapter 2…
Read John 2:13-25
Last week I mentioned that people often bring up Jesus turning water into wine to justify their drinking. People often mention Jesus throwing over tables at the temple to justify their anger problem. Jesus doesn’t lose his temper in the temple. Jesus is full of righteous indignation.
There’s a difference between anger and righteous indignation. We often call our anger righteous indignation, but it isn’t. Let me show you how we know Jesus didn’t lose his temper. Jesus took the time to make a scourge or a whip of small cords. He made himself a tool for driving all the animals out. He didn’t snap, he thought through what he was going to do. He took steps to prepare and then he went about clearing the temple of this bazaar. He drives out the animals, he doesn’t harm anyone. He pours out the money. He doesn’t take any. He turns over the tables. He tells the people with doves to carry them out. Turning over the cages would harm the birds. Releasing them would have cost the people selling them their livelihood. Jesus doesn’t cause anyone to lose their income, he doesn’t harm anyone.
Obviously, this is pretty serious action, but it wasn’t a loss of control.
Righteous indignation does not cause us to lose control and do wrong. Righteous indignation prompts us to take control and right wrongs.
Why was Jesus so upset? Why was he so full of indignation over this? When the disciples see this they are reminded of a verse of scripture from Psalm 69:9
17 And his disciples remembered that it was written, The zeal of thine house hath eaten me up.
Jesus was passionate for the house of God. What he saw when he came to passover was that the people were selling sheep, oxen, and doves in the temple. Plus there were money changers…
Now, the purpose of these makes sense when you realize what the passover was all about, it was one of the feasts where people who worshipped the God of Israel came in to make sacrifices. Most of these people didn’t live in Jerusalem where the temple was, so the convenience of getting a sheep or ox or dove right there in the temple when you arrived was great. The problem was that the convenience had trumped the true purpose of the space and the day. It was to be a sacred place for personal sacrifice and worship and the people had turned it into the mall on the Saturday before Christmas.
In an age of church hopping and church surfing, this demonstration of Jesus Christ’s zeal for the house is vital.
v. 16 make not my Father’s house an house of merchandise.
Church is not a place where we “get” what we need or want. Church is a place where we are part of something. Church is not a place where we come and we pick up the things we need for the week… Church is not the place we come to pick up stuff like we would the grocery story or walmart. We’ve come to think of church as the place we get our spiritual stuff like Aldi or Ruler is where we get our food stuff. For the fancy among us Schnucks or Fresh Thyme. Walmart and Target and TJ Maxx are the places we get stuff for our homes and church is where we get stuff for our spirit… It’s not like that! Church is not about coming to get something, it’s not a house of merchandise. It’s not about what we can get, but what we can be a part of… We are on a mission!
Consumer Christianity looks for the best and/or easiest way to get what we want out of God with as little investment of time, effort, or resources as possible.
True Christianity searches for the most effective way to bring God glory and rescue lost people.
That’s what the temple was supposed to be about, people glorifying God and offering sacrifices for their sins. That’s what the temple was supposed to be. The other gospel writers record that Jesus said here, my Fathers house is to be a house of prayer for all people but you’ve made it a den of thieves. (Providing for consumers is profitable- why do you think there’s no shortage of preachers on TV asking for money? Appealing to peoples greed to get their money…) So the leaders of the temple come to Jesus and they want to know by what authority he is doing these things…
On earthly terms, Jesus had no right to be doing this. He had no earthly position. Now clearly, this was His house, but by earthly standards he didn’t have a right to be doing this… They ask for a sign- remember the Gospel of John is all about signs…
John gives us 7 signs in this book. Jesus does not give a sign here.
Jesus says, tear down this temple and I will build it back in 3 days. Now Jesus is foreshadowing his death and resurrection- he is pointing to the ultimate and final sign of His deity- His willingness to make this ultimate passover sacrifice and then conquering sin and death, raise again from the dead. This is an important statement because it’s actually one of the charges they would bring against Jesus in court, that he had claimed he could destroy the temple and rebuild it in 3 days. The idea of destroying the temple was offensive to the leaders. To them the space was special, it was their place of worship, and an attack against it was an attack against them, their way of life, and their religion.
Here’s what’s crazy about that- the people who would be the most offended by this statement were the ones who had made it into a shopping mall. They would accuse Jesus of threatening to destroy the temple when they were the ones that desecrated it. Ya’ll hang with me here because I think if we get this next part it will be really helpful.
The greatest desecration to the house of God is the lack of zeal for the Son of God.
How many of you remember when this happened?
It was the day after our Dino-Might night and someone tagged our church with graffiti. They actually tagged Kempers Market, a school bus, our church shed, and then a shed in Pinecrest trailer park. We later found out they basically provided a police a path to their house with the things they had tagged and when the cops showed up to talk to them they still had spray paint on their fingers.
Removing this took about 5 minutes with some great stuff that I bought at Lowes for $15. I put this picture on Facebook and people went crazy. This is the most shared item I’ve ever posted other than the video of about our Break the Chains event. It was kind of weird to watch people on facebook go crazy about this, because people who cared nothing about church, hadn’t been in years were sharing this saying stuff like, if anyone knows who did this to my church, please let me know.
A similar thing happened on a much bigger scale in France last month when Notre Dame burned.
People who were unaffiliated with the church mourned the loss of this culture icon and they made huge donations for it’s rebuilding, but these are people who are uninterested in following Jesus. The disconnect between people’s love for the space and understanding of it’s purpose is well illustrated in one architects proposal to turn the roof into a giant pool.
I know what some of you are thinking, and no we are not pursuing this here…
We have a tendency to make this about something other than what it’s about… We have a tendency to make church about the church or the building or the prestige and it’s devoid of Jesus. That’s what John is talking about in the last 3 verses of this chapter. He tells us there were many that believed, but Jesus didn’t entrust himself to them because he knew their hearts. Some of you aren’t able to discern people- we know that by looking at your list of exes…. But Jesus knew. They were in it for what they could get. They weren’t followers of Jesus, they were followers of what they could get, what they could consume…
Jesus won’t give you what you want if it gets in the way of what you need.
If you’re a parent, you know this. “I know you want a cookie, but you need supper in 30 minutes.” “I know you want to stay up, but you need to sleep cause you’ve got school in the morning.”
The greatest desecration to the house of God is the lack of zeal for the Son of God.
The greatest desecration to the house of God is making it about us instead of God.
Because that makes it about what we want instead of what we need! I would much rather have a church that’s covered with graffiti and all about Jesus than a beautiful new building that’s dead on the inside… I’d rather have a church of a few people that are following Jesus than a gathering of thousands who are just picking up their spiritual goods for the week…
Jesus cleansed the temple because it wasn’t about God. Jesus cleans out our lives because they’re not about God.
When Jesus cleanses the temple, it’s grace.
He’s helping the people return their focus where it needs to be, he’s redirecting them to where they need to go… When Jesus points out the stuff in your heart that needs to go, it’s grace. When Jesus points out the sin in your life, it’s grace. When Jesus destroys the temple, it’s grace.
When Jesus cleanses our lives, it’s grace.
Jesus was zealous for the house, but he’s zealous for us! Jesus took a whip to drive out all of the distractions…Jesus took out a cross to drive all the sin from our hearts and lives…
Jesus cleansed our lives by giving up His.