ďZeal For Your HouseĒ†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† October 11, 2014

John 2:12-25

 

INTRO:When I was a boy, we were once on vacation with another familyó

†† seminary friends of my parents, one of my dadís Presbyterian minister colleagues.

This man had always been easygoing and fun to be around.

†† But while we were on vacation, he became furious about a very trivial matter.

He got go angry that he chased us in his car over the Pensacola Bay Bridgeó

†† tried to pass on the bridge, shook his fist, made rude gestures.

†† It was quite a performance, especially for a Presbyterian minister.

 

My parents had never seen anything like it in all the years they had known him.

When they tried to talk to him about it, he downplayed it, acted like no big deal.

†† Needless to say, we never vacationed with them again.

My mother, who is the storyteller of our family, has retold it numerous timesó

the time J___ R___ got mad and chased us over the Pensacola Bridge.

 

When people do things that are out of character itís perplexing.

†† We think we know them and expect them to act in certain ways

†† When they donít itís not only hard to understand, it can be unnerving.

Thatís how this incident is with Jesus in the temple.

†† Itís strange, jarring behavior, and might seem at first glance out of character.

John deliberately stages it in such a way to make it jarring.

†† Let me explain what I mean.

 

In writing this Gospel account of Jesusí life and ministry,

†† John did not try to write an exhaustive, precisely chronological biography.

The Gospel of John is a carefully crafted, artistic biography.

†† Itís accurate, John didnít make things up, but he took liberties in arraigning

†† the material to drive home certain theological points about Jesus Christ.

Notice how this passage starts:ďAfter this. . .ĒAfter what?

†† After his first miracle.Turning water into wine at the wedding in Cana.

John deliberately placed these two events together.

†† Jesus at the wedding then Jesus in the temple, one right after the other.

 

On the surface, these two incidents make Jesus look like two different peopleó

†† or perhaps like a person acting grossly out of character.

At the wedding he was the greatest party-maker in history.

†† At the temple he was the ultimate party-pooper.

At wedding he acted in a quiet, hidden way.Nobody but servants and disciples.

†† At temple he acted in a public and dramatic way.

At the wedding he was adding something.

†† At the temple he was subtracting.

At the wedding he was asked to help, seemed to get involved with reservation.

†† At the temple he intruded where he was not wanted.

At the wedding he caused joy and laughter.

†† At the temple he caused anger and hatred.

At the wedding he comforted.

†† At the temple he disturbed.

 

How are we to understand these very different ways Jesus acted?

The key is that they only look different on the surface.

†† Jesus Christ is the same and he was doing the same thing in both incidents.

In fact, this is the way he works in our lives.

Sometimes Jesus covers your table with a feast,

†† but sometimes he upsets your table and spills it all.

Sometimes he answers your prayers and brings you happiness.

†† He does exactly what you asked for, maybe even betterófills cups with wine.

Other times, without warning throws it all on the ground, messes things up,

†† and often doesnít tell you why.But itís the same Lord Jesus.

†† And heís acting in a perfectly consistent way.

 

Sometimes people canít take this.Their faith is shaken by it, seed on rocky soil.

†† This isnít what I expected from Jesus when I became a Christian.

I thought he was going to answer my prayers and always give me good things.

†† I didnít expect him to turn things upside down in my life.

He must be crazy, or mean, or he doesnít care.

†† This is not the Jesus I first believed in.

 

But John says, Noóthis is the very same Jesus.

And these are not two different things he is doing in your lifeó

†† filling your tables and turning over your tablesó

†† these are two different ways of doing the very same thing.

If you can see that, it will lead to a solid, stable faith.

So what is he doing when he turns over your tables?Two things.

†† 1.Heís showing you that heís in charge.

†† 2.Heís showing you that he loves you.

Letís look at each.Credit where credit is due.Tim Keller sermon on passage.

MP#1Jesus overturns your tables to show you heís in charge.

At the wedding, Jesus showed he was in charge, but his authority was harder to see.

Mary wanted him to do something about the wine and do you remember response?

†† Woman, why do you involve me.My time has not yet come.

†† Itís an odd, even cryptic response.

He was respectfully telling his mother that he was in charge.

†† He had not come to do her will or anyone elseís will, but to do Godís will.

†† He was affirming his authority as the Messiah and Son of God

 

But then, after making that declaration of his authority,

†† Jesus went ahead and did what she asked.He took care of the wine.

In fact, he answered her request in a greater way than she could have imagined.

†† And because Jesus did what Mary asked, his authority was muted.

†† It didnít stand out.He was still in charge, but didnít press it.

 

Thatís the way the Lord Jesus usually deals with us.

Most of the time his authority seems muted because he answers our prayers.

†† We pray for our daily bread, he gives us daily bread.

†† We pray for him to give us a safe trip to the beach, he gives us safe trip.

†† We pray for someone to be healed, most of the time, they get better.

†† We pray for him to bless our children, he blesses our children.

The vast majority of things we pray for, especially our daily prayers,

†† he answers in such a way that we get the things we want.

His will coincides with our will so we donít bump into his authority.

†† Heís in charge, but like the wine at the wedding,

it almost seems like he just does whatever we ask him to do.

 

Then we come to the Temple, and here his authority is made much more clear.

Verse 15 says he made a whip out of ropes and drove out the animals, Ď

†† the people selling them, and overturned the tables of the moneychangers.

This was not stinging leather whip.This whip couldnít hurt anybody.

†† It was pieces of rope he picked up, mostly just to get the animals moving.

†† Like you might hit a dog with a rolled up newspaper.

So why did those people doing all these transactions run away?

†† There were a lot of them.They could have just grabbed it out of his hands.

They ran because they sensed instinctively his authority.

†† The proof that Jesus had a powerful aura of authority is the response

†† of the Jewish leaders.

 

Big places of worship like the temple always attract the occasional nut.

†† The Temple had its own police force.They could have hustled Jesus out.

But there was something about his person that exuded authority.

†† Even religious leaders sensed it.All they could do was challenge to do a miracle.

Which Jesus refused to do.

†† He just made another one of his cryptic statements:

†† Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up.

And then he just stared them down when they tried to argue with him.

 

Now what does this teach us?Itís very practical, but itís not very pleasant.

†† Sometimes Jesus expresses his authority in our lives and doesnít explain himself.

He just starts turning over our tables without any explanation.

†† Because he owes us no explanation.Heís in charge.

He didnít first sit down with the animal sellers and money changers and temple

†† hierarchy and explain his position, and why these things should not be going on.

Thatís what a lot of people think heís supposed to do.

†† Give me a reason, Lord.Tell me why youíre doing this to me.

†† Tell me why you denied me this good thing or brought this hardship.

†† Tell me why Iím supposed to obey you in this particular matter.

You owe me an explanation.I have a right to know, God.

 

In the Garden of Eden, God gave Adam and Eve one command.

Donít eat of that tree or you will die.But he didnít tell them why.

And thatís the very point the serpent zeroed in on.Why canít you eat the fruit?

†† If God doesnít give you a reason, he has no right to give the command.

†† Our first parents listened to that reasoning and ate the fruit.

We often listen to the same Satanic reasoning.

 

The Lord says, This is what I want you to do with your money, your sexuality.

†† This is how I want you to live in your marriage.

†† This is how I want you to treat that other person.

The Devil says the Lord owes you an explanation.

†† He canít just turn over the table of your life with his arbitrary commands.

So we say in our hearts, just like the Jewish leaders:

†† Tell my by what authority you command me to do these things.

†† If you donít, youíre being cruel and I can do what I think is best for me.

 

Thatís what Job complained about.Why are you doing these things to me, God?

†† Explain this to me.Tell me why this is happening.

When we read the book of Job, we get a peek behind the scenes.

But Job didnít have any explanation for why God allowing these hard things.

†† So he demanded that God explain himself.

And in the end God comes to Job and says:

†† Does the lighting give you an explanation for where it flashes across sky?

†† And Job says, I see.I understand.What does he see?

†† God hasnít given him any explanation.

He understands that sometimes God overturns tables to show his authority.

 

And thatís the heart of the matter.Heís in charge and he wants you to know it.

And he wants you to know that even if he gives no explanation.

†† He has good reasons for doing what he does.

There is an analogy in parenting.

 

I can think of many times when I imposed my authority on my own children

†† without explanation and Iím sure that in their minds what I was doing

†† seemed unnecessary and cruel.

I remember once trying to hold down Adrienne so a nurse could give her a shot.

†† She was drenched with sweat, slippery, thrashing her legsó

†† like trying to hold an eel.And worst of all she was screaming, No, daddy, No!

No amount of explaining on my part could have gotten her to calm down

†† and say, Oh, I understand this pain and fear is for my good.

It was my will against hers, and Iím sure that for a little child, it felt like her

†† tables were being overturned.

 

When you are a child, if everything your father did to you made sense to you,

†† that wouldnít make sense.He wouldnít be doing what a father does.

He wouldnít have your best interests in mind.

†† He wouldnít be pushing you beyond yourself.

†† He wouldnít be loving you.

And itís the same way with your heavenly Father and with your Savior Jesus.

 

If Jesus is able to fill your table with good thingsó

†† then he has a right to overturn it when he needs to.

That leads us to the next point, which weíve already alluded to.

†† Jesus doesnít just overturn your tables to show you heís in charge . . .

 

 

 

MP#2He overturns your tables to show you he loves you.

Letís go back again to the wedding feast.

†† Mary said to Jesus:They have no more wine.

†† Jesus replied:My hour has not yet come.

John doesnít tell us right then what Jesus meant, but later, in chapter 12

†† we learn that ďmy hourĒ is a reference to his death on the cross.

 

So look at that conversation again.

†† Mary says:They have no more wine.

†† Jesus replies:Itís not time for me to die.

Thatís a strange response.The only explanation is something made him think about

†† his death and it upset him.What was it?It had to be the reference to the wine.

Wine was the symbol he later established at the Last Supper for his shed blood.

†† Mary said wine and his thoughts went to the cross.

 

That shows us something of the thought life of our Savior.

†† His approaching death on the cross was never far from his mind.

Even when something happy or distracting like a wedding made him forget about

†† it for a while, something would remind him, and the weight would descend.

Iíve never lost a child, but this is what I imagine it is likeó

†† that you never forget, and that even in times when you are distracted,

†† something is said or you see something that brings your loss back to mind.

Thatís the burden Jesus carried for us.He lived with his approaching death.

 

So how did he respond in that particular situation at the wedding?

The thought of his death led him to do a wonderful miracle.

†† He provided an abundance of wine as a sign of what his death was going

†† to provide for all believersójoy and life and happinessóheaven.

Turning the water into wine was an expression of his great love.

†† And thatís how he often works in our lives.

He pours out the wine, he fills our tables with abundance.

†† It shows us that he loves us.It reminds us that all good things come to us

†† only because of his death on our behalf, reconciling us to God.

 

But is this the only way Jesus shows us his love?

Letís look now at Jesus in the Temple.He came in and something upset him.

†† What did he see?The buyers and sellers of animals.Sacrificial animals.

And what did that immediately remind him of?

†† Just like the wine, it reminded him of his death.

Thatís the common thread between these two stories.

In both of them, he was suddenly, jarringly reminded of his death,

†† and he reacted.

Itís interesting how often commentaries suggest that what made Jesus angry

†† was that people were making money in the Temple.

Or that he was upset because the moneychangers were charging an excessive

†† exchange rate or animals sellers were overcharging for their animals.

But that is not what bothered Christ.

 

This buying and selling was a necessary service.

Jews came to the temple from around the Roman world.

†† If you were coming to Jerusalem from Spain, couldnít bring lamb with you.

†† And they all had different currencies and needed it to be exchanged.

No, thatís not what angered the Lord Jesus.

†† What angered him was where it was taking place,

†† and even deeper, the effect that was having on the attitude of worshippers.

 

Historians tell us that the markets for sacrificial animals were first located on

†† the Mount of Olives across the valley from the Temple.

But then, over time, they were moved into the courtyards of the temple itself.

†† Why?Itís very simple.For convenience.

The argument was that this would make it easier and faster for people to worship.

†† They could change their money and buy their animals right thereó

†† just a few steps away from the altar, where give animal to priest.

They could be in and out with a minimal amount of difficulty.

 

But the result was that there was not time or atmosphere

†† to reflect on the meaning and necessity of the sacrifice.

There was no time for the worshipper to think about how according to Godís law,

†† I was the one who deserved to die.Iíve sinned against God and my neighbor.

†† I havenít loved God with all my heart, soul, mind and strength, neighbor as self.

But God in his grace made the provision for sacrifice so I could be spared.

 

That wasnít the focus.It was convenience.Going through worship, getting it done.

(You know the joke we sometimes make about how Christ Covenant gets out of

†† church early so we can beat the Baptists to Cracker Barrelóthatís the spirit.)

And that grieved and angered Christ because he saw that by treating

†† the animal sacrifices in this way, they were missing the greater point

†† of their need for his substitutionary death.

So he overturned the tables, because he loved people so much he wanted them to at least to have the opportunity to think and pray and reflect on their need for a Savior.

†† And to reflect on Godís provision of a sacrifice through the Messiah,

†† and to see Godís love and his love.

Not to pass over holy things in a rush.

 

Once again, this is very practical, even if itís not very pleasant.

Sometimes Jesus overturns your tables to slow you down,

†† to inconvenience you, to strip away the importance you place on your schedules

†† and agendas, to mess up the neatness of your life,

so that you have the opportunity to focus once again on the cross.

He does it because he loves you and so that you will see, once again, his great love.

 

I had a seminary buddy who went to his first church with all the hopes and dreams

†† young pastors always have when starting out for first time in their own pulpit.

Iím going to preach and teach and minister to these peopleó

†† Iím going to love them and they are going to love me,

†† and this church is going to grow in grace and knowledge and in numbers.

And thatís how it went for a few years, but then the Lord overturned his tables.

†† The particular agent in that overturning was one critical manó

†† not just any man, the biggest giver in the church, wealthiest man in little county.

He made it terrible for this young pastor.

 

I knew a little bit about it but I finally got to talk to him at General Assembly.

He filled me in on the gory details, all the stunts this man had pulled.

†† But then my friend started talking about Jesus and the cross,

†† and how this had made him see the suffering of our Savior,

†† and cling to him and even forgive and love this man.

Believe me when I say that when pastors get together with other pastors

†† they know, the facades come down and some pretty blunt and harsh feelings

†† can come out about hard church members.

This friend of mine had no reason to put on a good show with me. It was real.

 

The Lord Jesus had devastated his dreams for his first pastorate,

†† turned over his tables, made a huge messóand from that my friend could

†† more clearly see Christís suffering on the cross and his great love.

The cross is everything.There are many instructions and rules for Christian life.

†† But in a sense it all boils down to thisóJesus Christ always had one thing on his

†† mind, and that same thing must be on your mindóhis death for you.

Is there somebody you need to forgive?How are you going to do it?The cross.

†† By seeing how much you have been forgiven.

Is there some situation where you have to be long-suffering and patient?

†† How will you learn that patience?The cross.

†† By seeing how the Lord set his mind on one thing for you and went there.

Husbands, how will you love your wives?The cross.

†† Wives, how will you honor your husbands?The cross.

 

And the way the Lord Jesus, draws the eyes of our heart to his cross is that

†† sometimes he pours out blessing, and covers our tables with feasts of good wine,

†† but sometimes he upset our tables, so that have nothing to do but turn to him.

Doesnít he have a right to do that?

†† If he is the one who fills our tables, doesnít he have the right to overturn them?

†† If heís the Lord of the wine, is he not also the Lord of the whip?

 

If he is doing something like that in your life right now,

†† if your tables are being overturned, recognize this for what it isóhis love.

Donít waste this opportunity to gain the mind of Christó

†† to think more often of his death,

†† and the forgiveness and power that comes through him.