SanLo Community, an update for January 27, 2019…
Thank you Pastor Joshua, for the message from John 2:13-22, “Living to Die, Dying to Love.” As we see in our own lives from God’s Word, we still focus too much attention on the unimportant things. Too much we divide our attention between unimportant things that will eventually hurt us instead of focusing on Jesus who came to save us. That leads us to our main idea, Jesus deserves our undivided worship because of His undivided love for us. In this temple scene we see Jesus is upset not primarily because these merchants were there at all but because Israel and her leaders were allowing their worship to be divided by lesser things. They were getting caught up in the things that would eventually hurt them instead of the One that would save them, just like we do… And that brings us to our first point.
1. Our worship is divided by worship of lesser things… (vv.13-17) Even when we think we’re worshipping God the right way by doing the right things, more often than we’d like to actually admit, our full worship of God is divided by the worship of smaller things. Reading verse 13 we see that Jesus was at the temple in Jerusalem during the time of Passover. This is the time of year Israel would celebrate God delivering them from the hands of Egypt. Then, taking a look at verse 14, we see Jesus arrives inside the temple where the festivities are and He finds oxen, sheep, pigeons and moneychangers. Essentially, the Temple represented the very presence of God in Jewish society. It was the place where worship should be occurring.
This is why we see Jesus acting as He does in verse 15. “And making a whip of cords, He drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and oxen. And He poured out the coins of the money-changers and overturned their tables.”…. It’s with this force that Jesus exclaims in verse 16, “Take these things away; do not make my Father’s house a house of trade.” Instead of adoration and peaceful worship, there was a moo-ing and bleating… Instead of repentance and solemn praying, there was selling and money changing… All of Jesus’ words and actions denounce the impure worship going on in Jerusalem’s Temple. It was a threat to the religious authorities but also a judgment on the hearts of the people. They turned what was a refuge into a retail space.
Now you might be thinking to yourselves, I don’t own any sheep or oxen … But I would ask you to take an honest look at your hearts with me. Let’s take a long hard look & evaluate our hearts as brutally honest as we can. Because though we aren’t worshipping in Jerusalem’s temple, we allow the temples of our hearts to become impure… forgetting what undivided worship of God actually is by letting sin make its home in us. Sin isn’t necessarily doing bad things, even good things can become sin. But anything can become sin because anything can divide our worship of God, not giving Him what He deserves. All this then begs the question, “why does God deserve our undivided worship?” “Why should I give my life to Christ?” “How can God redeem our worship?” That leads us to our second point…
2. Jesus redeems our worship by His undivided love for us. (vv.18-22) Jesus redeems our worship by giving up His very life for us. In verses 18-22, we see the Jews looking for a sign from Jesus, any sign of the sign of the Messiah, the one spoken of in prophecies (Is. 42:1; 62:1-3) that would eventually save and redeem Israel once and for all. So as legal authorities, these Jews who questioned Jesus’ actions had every right to ask Him what authority He had to do what He did with clearing out all the livestock and money changing business. Also by asking for a sign, it implies that they had at least a sneaking suspicion that Jesus could at least be some sort of prophet or even the Messiah Himself. But Jesus doesn’t give them a sign on the spot. Instead Jesus says, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” Well of course, destroying the temple and raising it back up in 3 days would be a GREAT sign. Anyone who could do that after the Temple’s actually destroyed really would be someone with the authority to clean house. But the Temple Jesus was talking about wasn’t the Temple that they stood on but the Temple of His body. With these words, Jesus was foretelling His own death and resurrection. He was giving a preview to the work that He would be accomplishing during His time on earth. This would become the means through which God would redeem our worship of Himself; that by His undivided love, our worship, all of us, can be redeemed.
What Jesus says here is a summary of the saving work that He accomplishes and offers to all mankind. That because we were sinners, Christ came to live the perfect lives we couldn’t so that He would become the perfect sacrifice for us that we could never be. Jesus doesn’t just die and let that be the end of the story. No. He rises from the grave, displaying His power over sin and death themselves so that we can find new life in Him. It’s in this story of the gospel that Jesus reveals His undivided love for us… that even before we could know Him, He died for us. This is by far the greatest gift beyond our imaginations that we could never hope to ask or receive but did anyway: that the very God of the universe Himself would offer up His Son’s life for us so that we can have the joy and privilege of knowing Him. This is where the title for this morning’s message “Living to Die, Dying to Love” comes from: that though Jesus knew His life would lead to death, it was all for the sake of loving us all. This is how Jesus redeems our worship. That even when we lose sight of God, dividing our worship into pieces and lose focus on God as the center of our lives, He gave us His full undivided love by offering up His entire life for us.
So how can we properly respond? What can we do in reaction to God’s great love for us? How can we live lives with an undivided love for the Lord when we all struggle to love Him even in just the simplest small passing moments? Well to start us off, we all need a slight tweak in our paradigms of what it means to worship God. This is what I mean: At its very core, the very essence of it all, undivided worship of God doesn’t stem from the desire to be morally righteous, to do the “right” things, say the “right” words… but in its most fundamental foundation, worship of God comes from the desire to love God. Not that building up practices and habits that encourage our love for God doesn’t help us, because we should do those things too, but in its most elementary form, it’s our love for God that must move us towards undivided worship of Him. Therefore, when we cultivate and grow our love for God, it drives out the loves we have for lesser things. It’s not a matter of, “oh I shouldn’t do this anymore” or “I can’t be doing that ever again” but a focus on cultivating our love for God. That’s the key.
And it’s good that we gather together to worship on Sunday mornings to grow our love for God, but imagine if we used afternoons, evenings, mornings during the other 6 days of the week as opportunities to grow our love for God. On your own every day, imagine reading God’s Word. Imagine what it would look like to ask God to reveal Himself to you and He answered your prayers, His Word becoming what you think and meditate on for the whole day? Or with your families in the morning, imagine making the time to sit down together and eat breakfast together, reading through God’s Word or a Christian book… or having family worship in the evenings, praising and praying to God together. Think of what it could look like to intentionally reach out to a younger sister or younger brother in Christ whom you see a lot of opportunity for growth in, someone you could disciple and point to Christ regularly every other week. What could it look like if you not only attended Sunday services but served as a means of God growing your heart for those that He loves? None of these things are rules to follow but merely examples of graces that can cultivate our love for God, to grow our affections for Him.
What I’ve found is that doing these things don’t necessarily mean our love for God will grow, but by placing ourselves before God in situations like these, God will use them as opportunities to challenge us, sharpen us and draw us into closer intimacy with Him. So let’s not allow ourselves to be caught up in things that don’t matter like a child getting hit in the head by a bench swing, but would we get caught up in Jesus, that Jesus would be the center of our lives and we would want to grow our love for Him day in and day out, giving Him our complete undivided worship because He has already given His undivided love by offering His life fully for us.
Songs of Praise and Worship:
* Blessed Assurance * Lamb of God * Jesus at the Center