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Third Sunday in Lent

March 15, 2009

Third Sunday in Lent         
March 15, 2009                                   

                                                                                          + Jesu Juva +

St. John 2:13-22

Who in the world does this Jesus think He is?  Good grief!  He acts like the temple belongs to Him!  Like it’s His house!

Perhaps you didn’t know that . . . but it is!  It’s the house of His Father!  The temple is the place where the Father put His saving name for the benefit of His people in the Old Testament.  And where God’s Name is God Himself dwells.  “Wherever I cause my name to be honored,” He promises in Exodus 20:24, “I will come to you and I will bless you.”   God graciously gives His most holy and saving Name to His people at the temple.  And so with His Name He’s there to bless.

From Exodus 20 we heard the Second Commandment today.  “You shall not misuse the Name of the Lord Your God.”  God’s people are to use His most holy Name properly.  To call upon His Name in times of trouble, pray, praise, and give thanks – calling on His Name.  And so God promised to be at the temple with His Name to hear His people’s prayers and to forgive their sins because of the promised Savior who was to come.

We heard the Third Commandment as well from Exodus 20 today.  “Remember the Sabbath Day by keeping it holy.”  The Sabbath Day is kept holy as the Lord speaks His Holy Name over His people and puts His Holy Word into their ears and hearts at the temple.  Most holy are His Name and His Word that bestow God’s own holiness at the temple.  And so going to the temple or church was to hear the divine Word of reconciliation and absolution for the sake of the promised Savior.  Sins forgiven.  Sins not counted against.  Sins not reckoned.  That’s keeping the Sabbath Day holy – when faith gives its “Amen” to the Lord’s word of forgiveness!      

And now in the text the only begotten Son of the Father from eternity shows up.  God in the flesh.  Tabernacling- among-His-people-Jesus.  The name “Jesus” means, “the Lord saves.”  Jesus the Lord saves sinners from sin and sin’s malignant and hellacious consequences.  This Jesus comes to His Father’s house where His Name and His Word should be going on.

The temple’s busy.  Full of activity.  Big crowds.  But lo and behold it has been corrupted and commercialized.  Holy Name?  No!  Preaching God’s Word?  No!  House of prayer?  No!  Instead:  money, cash, merchandise!  Work of the people!  And it’s a big hit.  Successful.  Quite exciting. 

But the big wigs running the temple don’t expect the folks to call upon God’s most holy Name for mercy and forgiveness.  The religious leaders don’t teach the folks at God’s house to pray for those in need, to praise God for His gifts, and to give thanks for all His benefits. 

The big wigs running the temple aren’t preaching God’s Word of forgiveness.  Could care less about that.  Not encouraging sinners to hold God’s Word sacred or to gladly hear and learn it.  Instead, business principles rule the Father’s house.  Financial gain and trading in goods.  God’s Word is despised.  The marketing principles of men are divinized.  A big time First Commandment problem!  There’s a different kind of god going on for these folks.  

Time for a house cleaning.  A holy house cleaning.  Zeal for His Father’s house consumes Jesus.  It is no longer of house of forgiveness but a prison camp of self-righteousness.  So Jesus makes a whip.  Personally kicks out the traders with their livestock.  Overturns the   registers and spills all the coinage on the floor.  For the temple has become so dominated by the affairs and things of men that you couldn’t tell it was God’s holy house. 

Many are offended by what Jesus does.  Is it because He’s too masculine or macho?  Too inconsiderate or rude?  That He is angry? 

No, they are scandalized because they have a different religion!  That’s right.  A totally different religion.  Theirs is a religion of works hidden in the business transactions and deal making going on at the temple.  What they do or don’t do is what matters.  Theirs is a liturgy that can be described as the business or work of the people.  A Savior?  They are their own.  They look to themselves for all good.  First Commandment?  They could care less.     

Now you can understand why Jesus is so angry.  He is the Lamb of God who has come to take away the sin of the world.  He does the salvation verbs.  He pays the price of redemption as the one and only Passover sacrificial substitute.  He purchases and wins sinners from all sin, death, and the power of the devil.  NOT WITH GOLD OR SILVER COINS!  But with His holy precious blood and with His innocent suffering and death on the Cross.  And they could care less!

“Destroy this temple and I’ll raise it on the third day.”  The temple He’s talking about is His body.  His body is God’s dwelling among sinners.  Salvation comes only by His bodily death and bodily resurrection.   

His Calvary dying is the wisdom and power of God!  Jesus is the Lord our God who comes as gift.  Gives sinners His Name.  Reckons sinners to be righteous through faith in Him.  Delivers forgiveness through His Word.  His is the free gift of salvation to all those who believe in Him. 

If you don’t want that Jesus, then you don’t have a Savior.  Insist on running the church of today like the big wigs of old at the temple, you know – in the way of business principles – you get what you deserve – work harder  — pay the price, etc., then it’s time for another house cleaning.  Before it’s too late.  Eternally too late! 

The text says that the disciples believed in Jesus.  Yes, trusted even in a Jesus who clears out the temple with a whip.  For He is the true temple that replaces the old.  His body is the temple of God on the earth.  And He offered His Body into death for your salvation.  Shed His Blood to atone for all your sin. 

There’s no sin He didn’t answer for.  He is the Lord your God.  Come to give you a good house cleaning.  A house cleaning of the heart.  A heart that believes in Him too.  And such faith is the highest worship of Jesus.  Fix your eyes on Jesus the author and perfecter of your faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, scorning its shame and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Whoever believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life. 

Happy believing in Him.  

From → "B" Sermons

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