Sermon 3/7/2021: Jesus Is The New Temple (Lent III)

At this time, due to surging Coronavirus rates, many are not quite ready to return to face-to-face worship. If this includes you, please click on the link below to watch the entire worship service as a video on your home computer, tablet or smartphone:

Link to Video:

Vimeo: https://vimeo.com/520440693

Screencast-o-matic: https://screencast-o-matic.com/watch/creicGVch83

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If you would prefer not to view the video, you’re welcome to use the links below to have a time of worship at home. (Just right click on the link to “open link in a new tab” to play each hymn or the sermon in a separate tab, and close that tab when finished.)

CALL TO WORSHIP: Please recommit your life to follow Jesus as Savior and Lord with the words of the Covenant Prayer in the Wesleyan Tradition: 

I am no longer my own, but thine.
Put me to what thou wilt, rank me with whom thou wilt.
Put me to doing, put me to suffering.
Let me be employed by thee or laid aside for thee,
Exalted for thee or brought low for thee.
Let me be full, let me be empty.
Let me have all things, let me have nothing.
I freely and heartily yield all things to thy pleasure and disposal.
And now, O Glorious and blessed God,
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,
Thou art mine, and I am thine. So be it.
And the covenant which I have made on earth,
Let it be ratified in heaven. Amen.

HYMN A Mighty Fortress Is Our God
Veritas – A Mighty Fortress is Our God (a capella)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JhU2PB7jdZ0

(Just right click on the link to “open link in a new tab” to play each hymn or the sermon in a separate tab, and close that tab when finished.)

A TIME OF PRAYER (Testimonies, Joys & Concerns)

Congregational Prayer: God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.

Please pray for yourself and your neighbors, lifting up your needs to God while giving thanks for answered prayer.

The Lord’s Prayer: Our Father, who art in heaven; hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil, for thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen.

HYMN What a Friend We Have in Jesus
Alan Jackson – What A Friend We Have In Jesus (Live)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=znWu2HCJ92c

(Just right click on the link to “open link in a new tab” to play each hymn or the sermon in a separate tab, and close that tab when finished.)

MOMENTS WITH THE CHILDREN – If you are blessed to have children with you, ask them what they are thankful for, and then thank God together!

GIVING OF OUR TITHES AND OFFERINGS – these can be mailed to the church office.

MESSAGE: Jesus Is The New Temple
Text: John 2:13-22
Series: The Journey Through Lent To The Cross

Right-click, open in new tab to play … Sermon audioSermon slides as a PDF file.

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SERMON NOTES

John 2:13 The Passover of the Jews was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. 14 In the temple he found those who were selling oxen and sheep and pigeons, and the money-changers at their business. 15 And making a whip of cords, he drove them all, with the sheep and oxen, out of the temple; and he poured out the coins of the money-changers and overturned their tables. 16 And he told those who sold the pigeons, “Take these things away; you shall not make my Father’s house a house of trade.” 17 His disciples remembered that it was written, “Zeal for thy house will consume me.” 18 The Jews then said to him, “What sign have you to show us for doing this?” 19 Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” 20 The Jews then said, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and will you raise it up in three days?” 21 But he spoke of the temple of his body. 22 When therefore he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this; and they believed the scripture and the word which Jesus had spoken.

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HYMN To God Be the Glory
To God Be The Glory | Fountainview Academy
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5WmQmL77WkE

(Just right click on the link to “open link in a new tab” to play each hymn or the sermon in a separate tab, and close that tab when finished.)

BENEDICTION: Let us dedicate ourselves to the service of Jesus by joining in the Prayer of Saint Francis:

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace
Where there is hatred, let me sow love
Where there is injury, pardon
Where there is doubt, faith
Where there is despair, hope
Where there is darkness, light
And where there is sadness, joy
O Divine Master, grant that I may
Not so much seek to be consoled as to console
To be understood, as to understand
To be loved, as to love
For it is in giving that we receive
And it’s in pardoning that we are pardoned
And it’s in dying that we are born to Eternal Life
Amen

(If you wish, you can listen to this prayer being sung:
Sarah McLachlan – Prayer of St. Francis
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=agPnMxp5Occ )

If you worship at home, please let us know so we can pray for you!

TRANSCRIPT

The message of Jesus for Lent is follow me. And because we follow Jesus, certain changes begin to happen to us. Jesus says, “The time has come.”

The scripture goes on to say, “Jesus began to preach, repent, believe the kingdom of God is at hand. The time has come.” Jesus is ready to come into your life, to be in a relationship with you, to bless you, to help you, to make you whole. The time has come. There is no longer a reason to wait.

And as you follow Jesus, you begin to have a relationship with him. It comes time for another time to come. We talked about this last week, Mark 9. As you follow Jesus, you get to the point where it’s not just about how Jesus takes care of you, but you can become a partner in what Jesus wants to do. And the way he puts it is this, “If anyone would come after me, follow me, let him deny himself.” It’s not all about us. “And take up his cross and follow me.”

Today, on the third Sunday of Lent, we deal with another place that Jesus said the time has come. We’re talking about the temple here. We’re talking about Jesus’s relationship with the religion in which he grew up. And I want to say to you, there is some bad math that people want to propose.

Some people want to logically say that if Jesus was a Jew and if Jews believe this and this and this, then– and this is what I think is a mistake, there are some people who say that if Jesus was a Jew, that it must be true that Jesus can’t believe anything different than what the Jewish people of his day believed.

God wanted more from the Jewish people in Jesus’ day. God wanted a better temple. And God with us today wants us also to be better. God loves us. But that doesn’t mean that God wants to leave us as we are. God wants us to grow up and follow Jesus and become more.

So I want to suggest that this is bad math, because even though Jesus was Jewish, he did confront and disagree with many of the practices of the Jewish faith of his day. He asked for more. And the scripture for today is one of the most dramatic versions of that.

In the end of Jesus’s ministry, in each gospel, it reports how on Palm Sunday after the triumphal entry where he announced for all who could understand that he was the Messiah this happened:

Then Jesus went into the Temple of God and drove out all those who bought and sold in the temple, and overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who sold doves, and he said to them “It is written my house shall be called a house of prayer. But you have made it a den of thieves.” What does that mean?

This is a model of the temple in Jerusalem. You can go see it. You can see the people walking in the background. But you see there the model of the temple in Jerusalem. Herod began to build it 20 years before the birth of Christ. It took 46 years to finish. It is a very large building. In the top right-hand corner there, you can see a fortress. That is the fortress of Antonia. That is the Roman fort where the soldiers, the Roman soldiers, could literally look over the temple and immediately come out if there was a riot or some kind of violence that needed to be dealt with. And you’ll notice the number three underneath the fortress there. That side of the temple is three football fields wide. Across the back, you’ll see a number five. That side of the temple is five football fields wide. Why? It’s very large. And in that large central area there, you see the building in the center, that’s where all the religious services took place. But the big courtyard around was called the Court of the Gentiles. And you see the sides of each wall have a roof that comes down. There is a shaded area there. Those are called the porticoes, where people would gather for teaching and for fellowship and for study.

But in that very large, open central area, they had animals for sale. Not because this was a stockyards, but because the Old Testament, the Book of Leviticus and Numbers specifies that if you have a particular sin, you need to go to the temple and get a particular sacrificial animal to be sacrificed in a very particular way. And then you can go home believing that God has forgiven your sins.

The temple was a gigantic moneymaking machine, and everybody in Jesus’s day knew this. Where you would pay your money, and you would get your forgiveness. This is what Jesus means when he says it’s become a den of thieves.

Now, the temple was run by the tribe of Levi, and this is the third step in following Jesus. The time has come for Jesus to confront the practices that were happening in the temple.

Now, the tribe of Levi was not given land when the 12 tribes each picked a portion of Israel as their dwelling place. The tribe of Levi was the tribe Moses and the tribe of Aaron. They were the tribe from among whom the priests were drawn. But every descendant in the tribe of Levi had a holy position. And their holy position was this, your farm, everything you grow at the best time of the year, the first fruits, you were supposed to give 10% of everything you grow to the Levites living around you without them lifting a finger. You can just imagine how wealthy they were because they were not prohibited from working or having their own business or farming their own land. But they got 10% of everything that their neighbors brought in. In fact, more than 10%. I can imagine there was possibly just a little bit of resentment about that.

But they also ran the temple. If you were a Levite, your assignment would be to spend two weeks working in the temple. Some were priests, others were singers and musicians, others were guards, others were what they called carriers, which I assume includes everything from being the custodian to the person that takes things from one place to another. Every Levite worked for two weeks and got a 10% of everything their neighbors made.

And Jesus came into that temple and did something a little astonishing. This was at the beginning of Jesus’ ministry. He did this again near the end. But at the very beginning, he did it to set a tone.

The Passover of the Jews was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem during the holidays when Jewish people would gather from all around the world, the population of Jerusalem would more than triple. The closest I can come to what the temple was like during those holidays was Disney World. It was the tourist attraction for a person of Israeli descent. And so thousands and thousands and thousands of people would come. And Jesus came with them.

Verse 14, “In the temple, Jesus found those who were selling oxen and sheep and pigeons. And there were also tables spread out everywhere. And the money changers at their business.” You see, if you were going to give money to the temple, it needed to be changed from money where you lived to special Jewish money. Of course, there was a percentage deducted whenever that was done. “And making a whip of cords, he drove them all with the sheep and oxen out of the temple. And he poured out, turned over the tables of the money changers, overturning their tables, and the coins go everywhere. And he told those who sold the pigeons, “Take these things away. You shall not make my father’s house a house of trade.” His disciples remembered that it was written, “Zeal for that our house will consume.”

Now, as you can imagine, the Levites who were running the show did not like this, but the amazing thing is Jesus is not arrested. That’s going to give you an understanding of how the typical person viewed what was going on.

The second thing to understand is that people who were prophets in Israel were known for confronting leaders and kings and people in power. And I can assume that the assumption they made is that Jesus is speaking in a prophetic manner because they come at him and they ask this question, “What sign have you to show us for doing this?” Because the authentic sign of a prophet in the Old Testament – and you can read about this – is the prophet would come and say, “This is what God says,” and then the prophet would perform a miracle to prove that it was from God. So this is them coming to Jesus and say, “Okay, if you’re a prophet, show us a miracle that will prove that you’re speaking for God.”

In verse 19, Jesus says, “Okay, here’s the miracle. “Destroy this temple, and in three days, I will raise it up.” And you remember how big the temple was. Three days.

Verse 20, the Jews then said, “It has taken 46 years to build this temple, and you will raise it up in three days?” You and I understand the meaning of three days, don’t we?

Verse 21, “But he spoke of the temple of his body. When therefore he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this, and they believe the scriptures and the word which Jesus had spoken.” What is the meaning of this? “The time has come,” Jesus says, “for you to stop seeking forgiveness through the sacrifice of an animal because there will be a better sacrifice by which your sins will be washed away.”

Do you want to understand how this works? This is what the letter to the Hebrews is about. Jesus will personally take the place of all of the animal sacrifices, and they will no longer be necessary because Jesus is going to be the sacrifice. Jesus overturns the table of the money changers because you no longer need to change your money so that you can give to the temple because every gift … Every gift will be given to Jesus, not the temple.

Jesus is here to say, “I will personally take the place of the temple. I will be the new temple. And so you can come to me, instead of to this place that mainly takes your money.” Think about that for a minute. It won’t be very much longer before arguments about the temple, the arrogance of the temple leadership – They are what caused the Jewish revolt that led the Romans to come to destroy the temple. They lit everything on fire. All of the gold that was a part of the temple melted down into the cracks between the stones. And because the soldiers were able to take home anything they could pry loose, they even pulled up the stones to pull the gold out from between them. The temple was completely destroyed, and it almost destroyed the faith of Israel with it.

But here Jesus is saying, some 40 years in advance, “I am the new temple. I am where you come for worship.” Because you see, worship is now portable because we worship Jesus.

Now, it’s perfectly fine for us to worship in a building! When the temperature was colder, I was very glad we had a building. When the temperature gets warmer, I’m going to be very glad we have a building with air conditioning. But we don’t worship a building. We worship a living savior who goes with us.

This is a saying that was on the wall on Facebook last year. “Keep a Christian from entering the church sanctuary, the temple, and you have not the least bit hindered their worship.” Why? “We carry our sanctuary with us. We never leave it.”

Because wherever Jesus is, worship is happening. Worship is now portable. The Romans can’t take it away from us.

Not only that, here’s another cartoon from a year ago. Satan says, “COVID-19. With that, I closed your churches. Ha ha ha.” And God says, “On the contrary. I just opened one in every home.”

Do you believe this? Do you understand this? When you leave this building Jesus Christ goes with you, and wherever you are is the temple. When you walk in the doors of your home, it’s the temple. When you sit down at the dinner table with your family you are the church because the Lord Jesus Christ says, “For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.” He’s not back at the church building. He’s right where you are. And because of this, he cannot be stopped by a pandemic, by the Roman government, or any other government because as you follow him, he walks with you. Wherever two or three are gathered in my name, there am I with them.

Now we’re starting to come back to the church building. Thank God. Aren’t you glad to be here? We’re starting to come back to do things that we used to do that we deeply valued and enjoy. But as we come back, let’s not forget this great and beautiful treasure that Jesus Christ gave us at the cost of his life. He is with us. And when we follow him, the promise that he makes at Matthew 28 becomes true. “I am with you all always to the ends of the age.”

It’s really quite interesting. We talk about following Jesus, but see what he promised, “I’ll be right there with you.”

When you leave the church building this morning, you take what it means to be the church home with you, and Jesus goes with you. And when you get up Monday morning, church is still going on. And as you go through your day, he goes wherever you go. So he’s there at your work to help. And when you come home, he’s there at your home, to heal and to soothe. And as you sleep, he watches over you because he is now our holy place because, in three days, the temple that is our temple was raised.

Lord Jesus, I thank you so much for the building that was the temple and the church buildings that we enjoy. I thank you so much, Lord, for the choirs that sang in the temple and the beautiful music and musical instruments that blessed our worship today. I give you thanks Lord Jesus for the reality that we live in the best of both worlds. We can gather in this building to be inspired by the beautiful stained glass, to be inspired by the beautiful music, to be inspired by being with each other. But, Lord, I thank you even more that in all the other hours of the week, church goes on because you are with your people. Please help us to remember that the Good Shepherd is always watching over the sheep and that the savior we follow, Lord, is always with us wherever we go. We ask these blessings on our faith in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION: Let’s have a conversation! Please reflect upon the questions below as you consider the material presented above. In a comment, share your thoughts and additional questions. What would you like to know?

What grabbed your attention?
What is the human need or problem?
What questions do you have about any quotes provided?
Does the Bible say anything about this?
What solutions do you see for the problem?
What specifically could we begin to do to make a change?

Additional Resources
Kinmundy United Methodist Church is located at 308 E. Third Street, Kinmundy, IL 62854. Worship begins at 9 am Sundays. The building is handicap accessible.
Wesley United Methodist Church is located at 3381 Kinoka Road, Patoka, IL 62875 in the country between Kinmundy and Patoka. Worship begins at 10.45 am Sundays.
VISION: We are a functional family of God, where Jesus is Lord and people grow.
MISSION: Every layperson is called to carry out the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20); every layperson is called to be missional. (¶126 of the 2016 Book of Discipline)
Paradigm: There are two kinds of people in this world: people who need to become disciples and disciples who need to become disciple makers.
 

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