Zeal for God’s House

January 7, 2019

John 2:12-22

God doesn’t like a mess in His house—whether in the church collectively or in Christians individually. Sooner or later, if we don’t clean up the clutter in our lives, God will deal with it.

After the wedding in Cana, Jesus and His disciples headed back to Jerusalem for the Passover. But when they entered the temple, happenings there were a far cry from what God intended them to be.

In Jesus’ day the high priest, Annas, and his family had set up a marketplace in the temple portico. Jewish historian Josephus says that Annas was a great hoarder of money who by violence robbed the common priests of their official revenues. The temple, dedicated by God as a place of worship, had been turned into a family business.

When a Jew came to worship in Jerusalem, he was to bring a sacrifice or buy one at the temple. But the priests had hiked up the prices astronomically. The moneychangers were just as bad. They inflated the exchange rate for Jewish worshipers from all over the world. The people were being robbed. There is little record in the Scriptures of Jesus being angry, but on this occasion He was.

Model For Ministry

The exploitation of people goes on in the church today. How many times have we watched so-called Christian leaders on television plead for money and then live extravagantly from it? Other evangelical leaders adapt a business model for ministry and seek to market their product—the gospel. A church does have a business element to it, but that aspect should be as low-key as possible and be run by the strictest biblical principles.

When Jesus came to the temple that day, the leaders were ostensibly directing the people in proper sacrifice, but Jesus saw through their deception, and He refined and purified and purged the house of God.

The Resurrection

The Jewish leaders were not pleased. “What sign do You show to us, since You do these things?” (John 2:18). Notice that they didn’t say, “You have no business doing this.” They knew their behavior was wrong.

Jesus cryptically answered the Jews, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up” (John 2:19). The Jews had no idea what He was talking about, but Jesus was speaking of His own body. His resurrection from the dead would prove His authority to cleanse God’s house.

Correction and Cleansing

Today, sins of all sorts are tolerated within the church. If we seek to exhort or discipline somebody, we can be threatened with a lawsuit—and the people who refuse correction simply move to the church down the street. Often the lack of spiritual power in the church today is a result of our impurity and our failure to address it. But the Lord will not tolerate sin in His temple.

The Lord deals with us individually as well. He sees our clutter and rubbish and says, “This is a mess. We need to clean up.” Jesus will not make His home in a heart given over to sin. He will drive out bad influences and deal with sinful things in our lives.

But first, He makes us an offer: “If we would judge ourselves, we would not be judged [by the Lord]” (1 Corinthians 11:31). The Lord doesn’t start by aggressively turning over tables. He prefers to say to us, “Let’s get rid of that right there,” and He wants us to simply respond, “Yes, Lord.” Only when we stubbornly refuse to take care of things does God say, “Time’s up. Here I come.”

Receiving God’s Blessing

If we don’t deal with sin, God will, because He doesn’t want us to be judged with the world (see 1 Corinthians 11:32). But we don’t have to let things go that far. We can respond to the conviction of the Spirit.

Is there anything in your life that God might want you to deal with? Clean it out! Get rid of anything sinful or questionable. Jesus came to Jerusalem to bless, but He could not bless that which was an offense to Him (see Luke 13:34; 19:41). Allow the Lord to do His refining work in your life so that you can receive the blessing He wants to give you.