The Lord Jesus Cleans House (Part 4)

(Download all four parts of this study by clicking WRITTEN. Download or listen to the spoken message by clicking SPOKEN.)

3. The Omniscience of Jesus

In the last chapter of John’s Gospel, John writes: “Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book.” For he adds that if all the miracles of Jesus were written down, “I suppose even the world itself could not contain all the books that would be written.”

5c2f232b725dabcf24d5f3afdbc5b89d

I mention that because many of those unwritten miracles take place here in verse 23 where John closes the chapter like this. “Now when He was in Jerusalem at the Passover feast, many believed in His name when they saw the signs that He was doing. But Jesus on his part did not entrust himself to them, because He knew all people and needed no one to bear witness about man, for He Himself knew what was in man.” Jesus performed countless miracles in Jerusalem before, during, and after the Passover with countless people coming up to Him and saying, “I believe in you, Jesus. I believe that you are the Messiah.” Do you know what today’s preachers would do if they got a response like that? “Quick! Count how many hands were raised, take an offering, and add their names to my email list!” But Jesus didn’t do that.

1

Instead notice John’s play on words in verse 23. Underline the key words: “believed” and “entrust,” because they’re the same word in the Greek—pisteuo meaning to believe or trust in someone. In other words, what John is saying is that the people were believing in Jesus, but Jesus wasn’t believing in them! Why not? Because Jesus knows what’s in each one of our hearts, and it is not good. Jeremiah 17:9 warns, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked. Who can know it?” Paul later admitted of himself in Romans 7:18, “In me, that is, in my flesh, dwells no good thing.”

Have you recognized that about yourself, that apart from Jesus, there isn’t one good thing in you? For within your flesh are the seeds of every evil thing under the sun! In fact, John says even your faith in Jesus may not be the right kind of faith. Again and again he will warn us in his Gospel that there is a belief which is not a belief, a belief that is superficial, self-serving, and likely to betray our Savior just as Judas. And Jesus knows the difference between the two. That’s why Peter, who denied Him 3 times and was later asked by Him 3 times, “Do you love Me?” finally blurted out, “Lord, you know all things. You know that I love you!”

2a

We need Him to test our faith as well, because the sad fact is there are millions of souls in hell today who thought they were believers and were not. They will say to Him on Judgment Day, “Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, cast out devils in Your name, and do good works in Your name?” And He will say to them, “I never knew you. Depart from Me, you evildoers!”

1

How do we make sure that doesn’t happen to us? By cleansing our temples now before His anger flares up and He does it Himself! Some of you may have heard the story of my little sister’s party when I was in college and she was in high school living at home. My parents were gone for the weekend, but I stopped by on Friday night to pick something up only to find 50 to 100 teenagers in their house drinking beer, smoking marijuana, and doing others things my parents would not have approved of. So what did I immediately do? I drove them out and helped my sister clean up the mess before the neighbors called the police and my parents found out about it.

1bab6-132

Likewise, just at I knew my parents would be returning soon, we know Jesus is also coming back very soon! When He does, will He find your heart clean and ready to be His home? As you may know, John the Apostle also wrote us a letter with this warning. In it, he begged, “Little children, abide in Him, so that when He appears we may be confident and not shrink from Him in shame at His coming. For if you know that He is righteous, you know it’s only those who practice righteousness who are born of Him.” So let’s stay close to Him and keep ourselves righteous, for He is coming sooner than we think.

Jesus-is-coming-soon-jesus-29592743-640-452

The Lord Jesus Cleans House (Part 3)

The Authority of Jesus

What came to the minds of Jesus’ disciples when they saw His anger? They may not have been book smart, but they knew their Bibles. That’s how they spent almost all their time in synagogue school—memorizing the Old Testament Scriptures. So that’s what came to their minds as they watched Jesus, the Son of David, cleanse the Temple . . . David’s words in Psalm 69:9, “Zeal for Thy house will consume me.”

salmo34

In other words, this could destroy our Master if He’s not careful. And they were right, for notice what John goes on to write in verse 18! He says, “The Jews then said to Him, “What sign do You show us as your authority for doing these things?” You see, there was no question in the minds of the religious rulers. This was a direct challenge to their authority, for they were the ones who ran the Temple and made the rules for others to obey.

By the way, critics of the Bible have a heyday with this passage because when they read the first three Gospels – Matthew, Mark, Luke – they put the Temple’s cleansing at the end of Jesus’ ministry, whereas John puts it at the beginning. “So what’s the deal?” they say. “Let’s see you explain that. This is just one more example of a contradiction in the Bible!”

The-Pharisees-Question-Jesus-Les-pharisiens-questionnent-Jesus-Detail-Pharisees

So here goes. This is the explanation, and it isn’t at all complicated. Jesus cleansed the Temple two times—once at the start of His ministry and again just days before His death. In fact, His second cleansing of the Temple is what finally forced their hands and fulfilled His promise that He would die for our sins. For when the high priest and his cronies saw Him cleanse the Temple a second time, there was still no admission of wrong on their part. Repentance never crosses the minds of the unrepentant! Their only question is: Who gave you the authority to do these things?

Why such a reaction on their part? You’d think the religious leaders would be among the first to welcome Him as Messiah! Not so! They had at least five reasons for rejecting Him: 1) He was a “nobody” who lived in humble obscurity the first 30 years of His life with no credentials for what He did. He wasn’t a priest. (Nor did He ever try to join in their “reindeer games.”) Nor did He look special. No Superman or Messiah logo under His shirt.

1

Of course, they could have asked John the Baptist to vouch for Him or checked their Temple records to see where He was born and what His lineage was. Born in Bethlehem of the House of David and the Tribe of Judah, just as the prophets predicted! “But don’t confuse me with the facts! I’ve already made up my mind!” Besides, credentials didn’t matter to them. John the Baptist was a priest’s son, and they didn’t listen to him!

2) They were sure when Messiah came He’d attack their enemies the Romans. But instead He attacked them for failing to keep God’s commandments! Of course, if they had read their Bibles, they would have known what to expect. Malachi 3:1 warned them, “Behold, I send My messenger, and he will prepare the way before Me. And the Lord, whom you seek, will suddenly come to His temple…and who can stand when He appears!

1

3) He hit them where it hurt. I heard another preacher say that there’s a major nerve running from the pocketbook to the pain center in the brain, which is why people start to squirm when you talk about money in church. But Jesus didn’t hesitate to do so. He talked more about money than any other topic, for what we do with money is the #1 indicator of what’s important to us. And money was of utmost importance to the high priest and his cronies. For they didn’t just tolerate buying and selling in the Temple; they were the ones behind it—rich Jewish thugs who got a kickback from everything that was bought or sold in the Temple, and ready to break legs if they didn’t get their cut.

4) But the most infuriating thing Jesus did was call the Temple “My Father’s house.” Don’t get confused about this! Jesus didn’t come to set an example for us or teach us a new way of relating to God. He came to assert a new truth about Himself, and He did so from the outset of His ministry. What truth was that? “I am God manifest in human flesh!” And they knew He was claiming that. That’s why they wanted to kill Him, because He, a mere man (they thought), was claiming to be God.

1

That will become even clearer in John 10:33 where Jesus says to the same religious thugs, “I and My Father are One.” To which they respond by picking up stones to stone Him. Jesus will say to them, “I showed you many good works from My Father, for which of them are you stoning Me?” And they will answer (John 10:33), “For a good work we do not stone You, but for blasphemy because You, a mere man, make Yourself out to be God.” They knew what He was claiming, and they were right! He was claiming to be God.

So they ask for a sign. John 2:19—The Jews said to Him, “What sign do You give us, seeing that You do these things?” Jesus said to them, “Destroy this Temple and in three days I will raise it up.” The Jews therefore said, “It took forty six years to build this Temple, and will You raise it up in three days?” Herod’s Temple had taken 46 years to build at this point and, in fact, when it was finally destroyed by the Romans 40 years later, it still wasn’t finished.

1

But as John explains, that isn’t what He was talking about. Jesus was referring to the Temple of His body. The Jews misunderstood that and misquoted Him and the gossip, as it usually does, went viral, so that three years later at His kangaroo trial, false witnesses were still accusing Him of saying, “I will destroy this Temple and raise it up in three days.” But that isn’t what He meant. He was referring to His body, and notice – He didn’t say that He would destroy it. He said they would destroy it—another evidence of His Deity in that He knew they were going to kill Him even before they knew they wanted to.

5) He also claims to be omnipotent. For He adds, “Destroy this Body, and I” (Not the Father, though you can never separate Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.) But “I will raise it up!” How can a dead man raise himself from the dead? Not a problem if you’re God, and that’s who He is! Jesus is God! That’s becoming more and more obvious to His disciples, and I hope to you as well, especially as they witness the third mark of His Deity. We’ve seen His anger and His authority. In the final part of this study, we will take a closer look at His omniscience! Be sure to join us for it.

2

 

The Lord Jesus Cleans House (Part 2)

  1. The Anger of Jesus

Did you know that Jesus gets angry? That may be hard to believe in this day and age when we’re told we have to tolerate every kind of sin and abomination, or we are guilty of hate speech. I have a good theological word for that – Baloney! We take our lead from Jesus who can become very angry and uncompromising when it comes to sin! Oh, He’s good and kind and forgiving towards those who repent. But even then, what charge did He make to those He forgave? “Your sins are forgiven. Go and sin no more!”

2_great-sin

That’s the tough love we see in verses 14 to 16. It says, “He found in the Temple those who were selling oxen and sheep and doves, and the money-changers seated, and made a scourge of cords and drove them all out of the Temple, with the sheep and the oxen, and He poured out the coins of the money-changers and overturned their tables; and to those who were selling doves He said, ‘Take these things away; stop making My Father’s house a house of merchandise.” (For by this time it had become an ingrained habit.)

What made Jesus so angry? 3 things: 1) Their defilement of the Temple with their buying and selling. You see that phrase “house of merchandise” in verse 16? That’s the Greek word “emporium!” They had turned God’s House into a livestock exhibit like you’d see at a country fair. It was noisy; it was dirty; it was smelly! Not that there was anything wrong with buying and selling per se, but that was to be done outside the Temple in the streets leading up to it.

2_great-sin

For what was God’s purpose for His Temple? Jesus says (Mark 11:17): “Is it not written: ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations’? But you have made it a den of thieves!” The Temple was to be a quiet retreat away from the world where you could get alone with God and pray, like Anna the prophetess who met Mary and Joseph when they brought Jesus to be dedicated in the Temple! Luke says, “She never left the Temple serving night and day with fasting and prayer.” But how do you do that when a carnival is going on around you?

2) It wasn’t the Jews only who were hindered by this. Jesus said His house was to be a house of prayer for all “nations.” The word “nations” means “Gentiles,” and there was only one place in the Temple where a Gentile was allowed to worship, and that was right here in the Court of the Gentiles where all this hawking of wares was going on, making it impossible for a repentant Gentile to meet God. Is it any wonder that this made the Lord Jesus angry?

2_great-sin

3) The third reason for His anger was the way the poor were cheated when they came to worship. First, there was a cover charge to worship in the Temple. So the pilgrim would save up his pennies for the trip only to be told when he got there that his money was no good. “That’s Caesar’s image on your coins! You can’t use those in the Temple! That’s idolatrous!” But to buy the special coins used in the Temple, He had to pay an exorbitant exchange rate. And that lamb he raised and brought to the Temple for sacrifice? “That’s no good either! Just look at those scars and blemishes!” Forcing him to sell his perfectly good lamb at a discount, buy a more expensive one, and then watch as the buyer turned around and sold his lamb to another worshiper for a big fat profit.

2_great-sin

Now a question: Did Jesus have the right to get angry? Let me say two things about it. First, His was a holy anger. No one was hurt with His whip, nor did He spark a riot endangering lives. If He had, the Roman cohort stationed at the Antonio Fortress overlooking the Temple would have taken action right away.

1

But they didn’t need to, for Jesus was in perfect control of this situation. He was simply driving trespassers off His property and claiming what was rightfully His! Imagine, for example, going on vacation and returning home two weeks later to find someone holding a garage sale in your yard. How polite would you be in asking them to leave? Not at all! You’d order them to get off your property immediately, and if they didn’t, you’d call the sheriff to remove them. But Jesus couldn’t do that because the authorities were in on this scam.

2_great-sin

Nor did He need any help in removing them. Why not? Because the power of His anger is infinite! It’s amazing when you think about it. Josephus the historian says attendance at Passover exceeded two million pilgrims at this time, which means there would have been tens of thousands crowded into Temple square. Think Safeco Field when Felix is pitching and one person trying to clear the stands and concourse with a homemade whip! You think you could you do it? No way! Someone would wrestle you to the ground before you got started! That’s the herculean feat Jesus took on, and He had no problem doing it. Why? Because He is God!

We’ll see this again in chapter 7 when guards are sent to arrest Him. They return empty-handed saying, “No man ever spoke like this man!” Later in the Garden when they try to arrest Him, Jesus asks, “Whom do you seek?” They answer, “Jesus of Nazareth.” And when He says, “I AM!” they all drew back and “fell to the ground.” No one could arrest Him if He didn’t want to be arrested.

2_great-sin

Of course, that’s just a foretaste of the unrelenting anger He will pour out on His enemies at His return. His anger is so powerful that those on earth during the Tribulation will hide themselves in the caves and rocks of the mountains begging them, “Fall on us and hide us from the presence of Him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb.” For though He’s forgiving toward those who repent, His anger is unrelenting toward those who persist in their rebellion! So Psalm 2 warns, “Kiss the Son, lest He be angry and you perish in the way. For His wrath is quickly kindled.” But then it graciously adds, “Blessed are all who take refuge in Him.”

2_great-sin

But, then, you pay a price when you stand up for what’s right in this world, even if you do it with the right kind of anger. Our Lord knew that and refused to be cowed by it. We will see that even more clearly when in our next study we witness the second sign of His Deity. We’ve witnessed His anger. In our next study, we’ll consider the authority of Jesus.

God’s House Cleaning Project (John 2:13-25)

Did you do any spring housecleaning this year? What about weeding your garden or doing those summer projects you can only do when the sun is shining before the autumn rains begin – like painting your house or repairing your roof? Why do we take time to do these things? So Proverbs 24 won’t happen to us!

2a

Solomon warned, “I passed by the field of the sluggard and the vineyard of the man lacking sense, and behold, it was overgrown with thistles; its surface was covered with nettles, and its stone wall was broken down. When I saw it…I received instruction. A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest, then your poverty will come as a robber and your want like an armed man.”

An older Christian sister warned me years ago, “You can tell what a woman is like by the way she takes care of her home and her hands, and you can tell what a man is like by how he takes care of his car and his shoes.” So I washed my truck that week, bought a new pair of shoes, and started painting the trim around our house not just because it was needed, but to please the Lord who gave us these things to manage for Him. That brings me to the topic of this study—“God’s Housekeeping Project” found in John 2:12-25.

2

By way of review, we’ve been following Jesus along with His disciples, for a week and about 35 miles now—from the Jordan River where John was baptizing to Bethsaida, 25 miles north where He met Philip and Nathanael. Then we hiked 9 miles west to Cana where Jesus performed the first sign of His Deity by turning water to wine. For those of you who are visual learners, you can see how it was laid out with Bethsaida to the east at the right of the screen, Capernaum in the center, and Cana of Galilee off the screen to the west in the foothills above the Sea of Galilee.

1

But John says in verse 12, “After this He went down to Capernaum with His mother and His brothers and His disciples, and they stayed there for a few days.” The Hebrew name is Kafer Nahum, meaning “the village of Nahum.” That’s where the minor prophet Nahum was from. Why stop there? Because from this point on, that’ll be the headquarters of Jesus’ ministry when He’s in Galilee! Even though it was small, Capernaum was located on the main trade route connecting Africa and Europe and with all the traffic between the two passing through that village.

Great-Commission-3

Capernaum was also the village where Peter’s home was located and out of which Jesus conducted His ministry. That’s also where He healed Peter’s mother-in-law of a fever early in His ministry. Cheryl and I visited there on our trip to the Holy Land several years ago, not only seeing the stone house that belonged to Peter and was later the meeting place of the church in Capernaum; we also visited the first century synagogue there and stood on the very spot where Jesus preached on the Sabbath!

Great-Commission-3

But they only stayed a few days at that time (verse 13) because “the Passover of the Jews was at hand.” So they made Aliyah (“went up to Jerusalem”), as the Law required every adult male to do at Passover. John records four times Jesus did that with His disciples, which is how we know His ministry lasted just over 3 years.

2a

But there was also a second reason He went up to Jerusalem. For the first 30 years of His life, Jesus was busy about His mother’s business, working in the carpentry shop to provide for her and His younger siblings after Joseph, His stepfather, died. But now that His half-brothers are old enough to take care of themselves, it’s time for Jesus to be about His Father’s business, presenting Himself as Messiah to the religious rulers in Judea and cleaning up the mess they have made of His Father’s House. In fact, He’ll spend the entire first year of His ministry in or about Jerusalem proving His Deity by the miracles He performed.

5c2f232b725dabcf24d5f3afdbc5b89d

The first task at hand is spring cleaning in the House of God. In doing so, we’ll witness 3 facts about Jesus that we haven’t seen yet—1) His anger, 2) His authority, and 3) His omniscience—each one a clear sign of His Deity. But as John 1:11 warned us: “He came unto His own, and His own did not receive Him.” So He knows He won’t receive a warm welcome. And yet, He’s absolutely fearless about it, letting the chips fall where they may, His Deity evidenced in His anger towards sin. That will be the focus of our next study.

11-november-17-2013-john-10142-jesus-the-true-shepherd-5-638