Sermon April 10, 2022: Jesus Changes Our Definition of Church (Palm Sunday Lent 6)

Images via Pixabay and ChurchArt.

If you prefer to worship at home at this time or simply wish to listen to the service or sermon again, 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/697777457

Screencast-o-matic: https://screencast-o-matic.com/watch/c3fQ05VqHIQ

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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 Centering Prayer:

Lord Jesus, today I am far less than the person I want to be or can be with your help. I ask today that you would be more and more the center of my life. Guide me to all that is good, cleanse me from all that is not. Teach me Your ways and form in me Your nature. Help me to serve you as I am gifted. Help me to notice my neighbor and work through me to redeem my neighborhood. I am a sinner; please be my Shepherd, my Savior and my Lord. Amen.

HYMN Tell Me the Stories of Jesus
Tell Me the Stories of Jesus
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lf5uc0aA8Yg&list=RDlf5uc0aA8Yg&start_radio=1

(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, courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference, living one day at a time; enjoying one moment at a time; taking this world as it is and not as I would have it; trusting that You will make all things right if I surrender to Your will; so that I may be reasonably happy in this life and supremely happy with You forever in the next. Amen.

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 Hosanna, Loud Hosanna
Hosanna, Loud Hosanna from Parkside Evangelical Church
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nuNNG2DE6Z4

(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 Changes Our Definition of Church
John 2:13-22, 1 Corinthians 12:4-7, 11-14, 18-22
Series: When Jesus Changed Our Mind

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

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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.

1 Corinthians 12:4 Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; 5 and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; 6 and there are varieties of working, but it is the same God who inspires them all in every one. 7 To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.
11 All these are inspired by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills. 12 For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. 13 For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body–Jews or Greeks, slaves or free–and all were made to drink of one Spirit. 14 For the body does not consist of one member but of many.
18 But as it is, God arranged the organs in the body, each one of them, as he chose. 19 If all were a single organ, where would the body be? 20 As it is, there are many parts, yet one body. 21 The eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you,” nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” 22 On the contrary, the parts of the body which seem to be weaker are indispensable

Song on the sermon theme:
“If We Are the Body” by Casting Crowns
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9_7j1SMuTN0

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HYMN Lord, You Have Come to the Lakeshore
“Lord, You Have Come to the Lakeshore” by Cesareo Gabarain, arranged by Skinner Chavez-Melo. Performed by Erin Henke and Lynn Basila for virtual service at FBC. Violin descant by Lynn Basila.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9DPN0qm2gmA

BENEDICTION: Please recommit your life to the service of Jesus as Lord with the words of The Prayer of St 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

All Scripture quotations are from the Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright © 1946, 1952, and 1971 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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

TRANSCRIPT

In the time of Lent, we repent. Repent means that we want to make changes, not to make things more the way we want them, not to make things more enjoyable for us, but we want to make changes, to align ourselves, to align our worship, to align our behavior, to align our Church more closely with the will of God. And so, for the past six weeks, I’ve shared with you times in the Bible where Jesus changed the way they had always done it before. And today, Palm Sunday, we are finishing the time of Lent. And indeed, perhaps talking about the greatest change of all, because today is the day for what is called the triumphal entry.

You see, the Roman soldiers were constantly watching Jerusalem. They were constantly watching for any sign of rebellion. In fact, at the corner of the Jerusalem Temple was a Roman fortress, so that they could look down on Jerusalem. And anytime there was a riot or anything that looked like it could be rebellion, the soldiers could instantly come and put it down. And so on this day, Jesus sends the disciples to get a colt that had not been ridden before, not a warhorse, but a tiny horse. And he gets on the horse, and rides down the Mount of Olives, and up through the Kidrin Valley, and into the East Gate of the temple in Jerusalem. And no Roman soldier has any clue what is going on.

But every Jewish person recognizes one of the Old Testament prophecies (Zechariah 9:9), that their King is coming to them riding on a colt. And every Jewish person perfectly understands that Jesus is removing all doubt. When he rides into Jerusalem, he’s saying, I am the Messiah. I am the King of Kings. I am the one who can set you free. And the people are overjoyed. In fact, they get a little bit crazy. They start cutting down branches and waving them and celebrating. And they lay the branches on the road so that as he walks, it’s like the horse is walking on a carpet.

They lay their cloaks in the road for the same reason, because Jesus is saying without any doubt that he is the Messiah. Now, what does that mean? Well, let me remind you what it means. Later that day, according to one gospel, the next day according to another gospel, Jesus has what in our culture today we call a come-to-Jesus talk with the leaders of the temple. If you’re not familiar with that term, a come-to-Jesus talk is when the boss, because that’s who Jesus is, looks you in the eye and says, “This is not okay and things need to change or I will be cleaning house.” Jesus makes a whip of cords and he begins to drive out from the temple all the animals which are there to be sold for sacrifice. He overturns the tables of the money changers. He basically says, “My father’s house is meant to be a house of prayer. And you’ve turned it into a place to make money. This is not okay.”

And of course, a little bit later, the Pharisees and the scribes get indignant. But when the chief priests and teachers of the law saw the wonderful things he did and the children shouting in the temple courts Hosanna to the Son of David, they were indignant. “We’ve got to stop this disorganized noise. Did you hear what these children are saying?” they said to Jesus. “Yes,” replied Jesus, “but have you never read from the lips of children and infants, you, Lord, have called forth your praise?” You see, in the temple, only the Levites, only the Tribe of Levi was allowed to conduct worship. Only the Tribe of Levi was allowed to speak. Only the Tribe of Levi was allowed to sing. How dare these children think that they should sing in God’s temple? In another place, Jesus says if they were silenced, the very rocks would cry out.

But you see, in the temple– and this is part of the come to Jesus talk, ordinary people like you and me who are not of the Tribe of Levi– oh, by the way, Jesus himself was not of the Tribe of Levi. They are not allowed to have any part in the temple worship.

Now, here’s the interesting thing. This has happened before. This event of driving out the animals, upturning the tables of the money changers. This event has happened before. It happens now at the end of the three years of Jesus’s ministry because it is the triggering event that causes his death.

But it also happened way back at the beginning of his ministry in John chapter two. So let’s look at that scripture now. The Passover of the Jews was at hand— same time of year, in other words. And Jesus went up to Jerusalem and in the temple, he found those who were selling oxen and sheep and pigeons and the money-changers at their business. You see, if you wanted forgiveness, an animal had to die. And you could bring an animal from home, but son of a gun, it’s just so strange it had to be approved by the priests and strange … the animals that you brought from home just really weren’t good enough. You had to buy one from the temple business. And of course, just like a hot dog at the ballpark, it cost a lot more. They made money off of people needing forgiveness. And that animal would be led to the altar and would die so that you – you – could be forgiven because of its blood being shed.

If you wanted to make an offering you could not bring your Roman money into the temple because it had a picture of the emperor on it. And in some places, the emperor was worshiped as a god, so the temple authority said, “That is not Roman money. That’s an idol. You can’t bring it into the temple. You have to exchange it for Jewish money.” And of course, the temple got a percentage for that service.

And so – verse 15 – Jesus made a whip of cords and he drove them all with the sheep and oxen out of the temple. Now some people argue that Jesus did not whip people because Jesus would not whip people. That he only used the whip on the animals. I don’t know but I guarantee you he stirred up a riot that day. He poured out the coins of the money-changers and overturned their tables. And he told those who sold the pigeons, “Take these things away. You shall not make my father’s house a house of trade.” And his disciples remembered that it was written zeal for thy house will consume me.

Now please remember this is way back at the beginning of the ministry of Jesus. It sets the tone for what is coming. And Jesus makes this amazing statement. The Jews, the Jewish leaders then said to him, “What sign have you to show us for doing this?” If someone did something prophetic they were expected to do a miracle to prove this was from God. So they’re saying, “What proof do you have that what you’re saying is from God? Show us a miracle.” Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up. There’s the miracle that proves that I’m from God. In three days I will raise this up– I’ll raise this up.

And by the way, knowing what happens at Easter we understand what that means, don’t we? “Destroy this temple,” and all the Jews are looking at the buildings all around them, the giant buildings, “and in three days I will raise it up.” And they look at Jesus and they say, “It has taken 46 years to build this temple, and will you raise it up in three days?” Just so you understand across the back there … that’s about five football fields wide. From the front to the back, that’s about three football fields wide. And on a typical day that area in the middle, the court of the Gentiles, would be filled with those sacrificial animals and the tables of the money changers. And the temple would be making money off of forgiveness. “It’s taken 46 years to build this building. What are you talking about?” And Jesus says something very cryptic, “But he spoke of the temple of his body. When therefore he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that Jesus had said this and they believed scripture and the word which Jesus had spoken.

But we may not quite understand it. What is the Temple of his Body?

Now, please think with me back over the six weeks of Lent, these six weeks of repentance. I want to suggest to you that when Jesus spoke to the disciples, he was explaining to them how Church should be. And it starts with those two little words, “Follow me.” And everything Jesus says to the disciples is about how the Church should be. And now at the end of his ministry, this event reoccurs because you see, how the Church needs to be is not the way the Temple is because the true Temple is the Temple of his Body.

Now if you want to read an explanation of this, read the book of Hebrews. But let’s just say that when you read the rest of the New Testament, there are different places that Jesus speaks of the Body of Christ. Jesus speaks of the Body of Christ as the preferred term for the Church. And basically, back in John 2, Jesus is saying, “See all these buildings? In three days, I’m going to replace them with my Body.

The place where the Body of Christ is described more than almost any other chapter, 1 Corinthians 12:7, you see in the Church that God desires. To each person is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. God works through each person. Verse 11, all these are inspired by one and the same Spirit who apportions – gives them out – to each one individually as he wills. You don’t get to pick. For just as the body is one and has many members, so it is with the Body of Christ. For the body does not consist of one member, but of many, many different people make up the Temple of his Body. And that section concludes in verse 27, now you are the Body of Christ. You are the new Temple. You are the Body of Christ, and individually members of it.

And of course, there are many other examples. But Jesus is going to do something new. And the Temple is not going to be the focus, because the focus is now the Temple of his Body. The focus is now on the Body of Christ. And the people who follow Jesus, who follow in his steps, they will be the ministers who lead in the worship, who lead in the service. We are moving from a professional tribe of clergy who got filthy rich off of religion to a church that’s made up of lay leaders. We’re moving to a church where everybody gets to sing. Remember Little League? Everybody gets to play. God wants to work through everybody, every one of us.

And in the place of the animals that are taken to the altar to be sacrificed, Jesus goes to the cross and gives his own life for us. Again, as I said, you can read about it in Hebrews. He takes the place of all of those sacrificial animals. And because Jesus died for you and me, they are no longer needed. Because as Jesus said from the cross, “It is finished.” And so the ornate building and the altar covered with gold is replaced by a loaf of bread which is broken. The blood which is poured out over the altar is replaced by a cup. And that’s all you need for a temple now.

And when Jesus rises from the dead on Easter Sunday, it means that we experience new life and we also were able to rise and walk in newness of life. So, friends, this is the temple we have today. There’s nothing wrong with buildings. It’s a little chilly for us to be having worship outside today, but I’m awfully glad we have a building in the winter. I’m awfully glad we have air conditioning in the summer. I am awfully glad. But in the New Testament, all of these things are replaced by the temple of his body, by the body of Christ, by the people who listen to Jesus as he speaks his words.

And he will change their focus from their anxiety to focus on following him. They’ll change. He’ll change their focus from tradition, in other words, doing it the way we’ve always done it before, to focus on the hearts of people and how hearts need to change. Jesus will change their prejudices so that they’ll focus on people and value each person as worthy. Because you and I do not know a person for whom Jesus Christ has not died. Jesus will change what we understand to be ministry from the task orientation of busy activity. And believe me, that Jewish temple was one of the busiest places on earth! But it’ll change our focus from being Martha that took care of buildings and meals into being more like Mary who took care of Jesus. And then today, he’ll change our focus from buildings and worship and professional clergy to the sort of church you have … When two or three are gathered in my name, as Jesus said, there am I in the midst of them … because church now is made up of the people who are following Jesus.

And I want to tell you, friends, that is a wonderful thing, but it’s also a very scary thing. Since this whole pandemic began and changed the way we look at everything, I have been very fearful about the future of the church. From the time this pandemic came about, down to the present day, I have been very worried, even to the point of grieving and despair about the future of the church. We hear of the Russian government sending missiles and bombs onto hospitals. And we read how the head of the Russian Orthodox Church justifies those actions because they are “fighting the Antichrist.” Now, I’m not so worried about you because I know you, and I know your sincerity, and I know your faith. But I’m starting to feel like people 20 miles away, 200 miles away from us, have just gone crazy because they seem to have forgotten everything that Jesus said.

And when I open up my bible and I read it and I hear what Jesus tells us to do, I hear how Jesus tells us to live, and I compare what Jesus said to all those people out there, it begins to break my heart, and I start to weep. Kim will tell you there was just something wrong all day yesterday as I struggled with this sermon. And I came to realize that what it was was just simply that worldwide, nationwide, all across our state, we are not living up to what Jesus asked. Maybe we could do better even here in Kinmundy.

But we need these days of repentance the way we need a ruler because, friends, I can lay this straight edge up against the way I live, and you will immediately see where I’m not being straight with you. Let me show you something that I always thought was amusing. See that finger? If you put my left forefinger up against my right forefinger, put them next to each other, you find out they’re not straight. But you have no idea that that’s true until you set your own self, set your own life up against what Jesus said, and then all of a sudden, you can see what needs to change.

And so for these past six weeks, we’ve talked about the words of Jesus as ways that would greatly benefit us to change. And so here’s the truth today, because, see, this is the meaning of the temple of his body. Jesus came at Christmas. Jesus lived among us during his ministry of three years. And you could read about it in the scripture. Jesus taught us what God wanted.

And then Jesus died upon the cross to replace the sacrifices of the temple with the sacrifice of his own self. He rose from the dead so that we could walk in newness of life.

And so, friends, here’s what I need to tell you. We are, now, the body of Christ. You and I are the temple for today. And if we will be faithful to be Jesus where we live, we will not only see God’s will done on Earth as it is in heaven, we will not only see miracles and answered prayers that the people saw in the life of Jesus, but we will see people’s lives changed when we understand that when Jesus rose up into heaven, he didn’t leave. He left it to us to carry on because, “Wherever two or three are gathered in my name,” he says, “there am I in the midst of them.” And Jesus is alive in our midst.

So, therefore, I want to share these familiar words with you that St. Teresa of Ávila wrote, and I would like to invite you to say the dark print. Are you ready to be the church that Jesus wants? You are the one he has left here to do his work. Friends, hear this:

Christ has no body
But yours.
No hands, no feet.
On earth but yours.
Yours are the eyes.
With which he looks.
Compassion.
On this world.
Yours are the feet.
With which he walks to do good.
Yours are the hands.
With which he blesses the whole world.
Yours are the hands.
Yours are the feet.
Yours are the eyes.
You are his body.
Christ has no body.
Now on earth but yours.
No hands, no feet.
On earth but yours.
Yours are the eyes.
With which he looks.
Compassion.
On this world.
Christ has no body.
Now on earth but yours.

Lord, help this truth to sink in … that what you did in those three years, walking back and forth across Israel and Galilee, now you desire to do through us … because to each of us is given a manifestation, a way that the Holy Spirit works through each of us for the common good. Lord, when people look at the church, Lord, when people look at this church, I pray that they would see you doing good and showing compassion on this world, that people would see your people living out and continuing to live the example that you have set so that others might find faith and forgiveness in you. And we ask this 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.

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

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