You may recall that in John 1:14 we saw that Jesus was “full of grace and truth.” He was the perfect balance of grace and truth. Earlier in John 2:1-11, we saw Jesus express His grace by transforming water into wine at a wedding banquet in Cana of Galilee. He replaced something old with something new. New wine replaced old water. Today we will see His truth at work replacing a dirty temple with a clean one. From this we will discover how we can experiencing Jesus’ cleansing truth in our lives. The first way is seen in 2:12-16.
“After this He went down to Capernaum, He, His mother, His brothers, and
His disciples; and they did not stay there many days.” (John 2:12). Jesus spends some quiet
time at Capernaum with friends – those closest to Him. As important as time
with friends is, Jesus did not want to miss going up to Jerusalem to worship
God during the Passover. “Now the Passover of the Jews was at hand, and
Jesus went up to Jerusalem.” (John 2:13). The Passover was a Jewish
festival celebrating God’s deliverance of Israel from slavery in Egypt, when
the angel of death passed over every home where the blood of a lamb was applied
to the doorposts of the home (Exodus 12-13). It also initiated the Feast of
Unleavened Bread, so the entire celebration lasted over a week. Jews from all
over the world came to Jerusalem to meet with God and be obedient to His commands.
tried to make His way into the Temple, He discovered that it had become a place
of peddling instead of a place of prayer. “And He found in the temple those
who sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the money changers doing business.”
(John 2:14). This temple money system was known as Annas’ Bazaar. Annas
gave up his priesthood to run this temple money system. He placed his three
sons in the priesthood, and God killed them. Then he placed his son in-law
Caiaphas, in the priesthood so Annas could run the temple business.
Let’s say you come to Jerusalem to worship the Lord. You bring an animal to
sacrifice to the Lord, because that’s the way you worshiped God then. Your
children had cared for this animal for months and he had become a cherished pet
– though he was about to become the family’s sacrifice. You go into the temple
courtyard and there is a “booth of approval” manned by one of the
strictest of the Pharisees. Before you could offer your family’s lamb for
sacrifice it had to be approved. But this inspector finds defects in your lamb.
“Hey, we can’t accept this animal as a sacrifice – it has too many things
wrong with it. You need to go to the venders’ booth, over there. There you can
buy a lamb pre-approved for sacrifice.” Think of how your kids feel.
“What about our lamb? Doesn’t God care about that? How do we get to God?”
So, you go over to the vendors’ booth and pay ten times the real value for a
pre-approved lamb. (Just like when you go to the theater and a 50-cent bag of
popcorn costs you $4.) So, you get your money out to buy one of his animals.
And he says
to you, “Wait a minute. We can’t accept that currency. You need to exchange
your coins for temple money over here at the money-changers’ table and that
will be an extra fee.” Therefore, you go up to the moneychangers’ table and
give them a silver dollar and they only give you 25 cents of temple money. Just
like if you went to a pawn shop with a $1000-dollar ring and the broker would
only offer you $100. Wanting to show your love for God you pay all these fees.
And by the end of the day, you didn’t know if you were pleasing God or just
pleasing the religious leaders. Meeting with God seemed too far beyond your
This scene is
what Jesus saw when He entered the temple. How does our Lord respond? “When
He had made a whip of cords, He drove them all out of the temple, with the
sheep and the oxen, and poured out the changers’ money and overturned the
tables.” (John 2:15). This is not the soft spoken, gentle Savior that so
many of us often think Jesus was. Here we find Jesus angry and aggressive as He
drives out animals, overturns tables, and creates a scene. I mean it must have
been like being in one of those villages in Spain when they let the bulls run
loose in the streets. Cows and sheep are running loose. People are yelling and
screaming, “Help! Out of the way! The Carpenter has gone crazy!”
Whenever Jesus sees one of the merchants, He
points the finger and says. “Take these things away! Do not make My Father’s
house a house of merchandise!” (John 2:16). The temple was designed by God
to be a place where people could meet with God. But it had become a place where
people were abused in the name of God! The tragic truth was this had become the
least likely place where you could meet with the Lord. Jesus must remove the
religious pretenders before He can truly minister to those who need Him.
people today, this is still a reality. There are people today who long to
meet with God in a place of worship, but when they go, all too often they
discover a system that gives them more work to do to be “close” to God. The
problem with this is they never know if they are pleasing God or the religious
leaders. You say to yourself, “Something feels wrong with having to
follow all of these rules – but it is God’s House. It says so on the sign.”
And they get worn out or they leave and give up on God altogether.
understand, that if you came out of a church where you had to pay and pay and
pay some more to get close to God, you have come to the right place. You have
come to a place where Jesus fights for you just like He did back then.
And He wants to heal your hurts and lighten your load. He wants to make it so
easy for you to come (just as you are) and meet with Him. Jesus does not charge
you to meet with Him. It’s free just like salvation. Jesus does not want
anything at His church to make it difficult for people to worship Him …to draw
closer to Him.
Jesus warns all of us who are spiritual leaders: Woe to you if you shut
off the kingdom of heaven from men. We need to ask ourselves are we
door-openers or door closers? Are we making it difficult for people to come
to Christ or simple? Sometimes the Lord must remove religious pretenders
before true worship can take place…before Jesus can truly minister His grace to
those in need. I truly believe when Jesus is free to minister His grace in a
church – look out! It will explode with people who need His healing touch.
So the first way to experience Jesus’ cleansing truth is to Rely On Christ To Cleanse Your Life (John 2:12-16) from sin and corruption. According to the Bible, where is the temple of God located today? The answer to this question is in 1 Corinthians 3:16. The apostle Paul is writing to Christians, “Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?” The temple of God is no longer located in Jerusalem. It is now located in every believer in Jesus Christ. The temple is located in our bodies. In the Old Testament, God’s temple was a sacred place. It was a place where God Himself resided and where people came to worship Him. Today, God’s temple is still a sacred place where God dwells.
truth is all of us are like those religious leaders who were robbing the people
of their money. All of us are thieves. Now you may say, “Wait a
minute pastor. I’m not perfect, but I am no thief.” We probably all agree
that we are not perfect, but are we all thieves? Maybe we wouldn’t break into
our neighbor’s home to steal his stereo, but we rob him of his reputation when
we gossip about him. Maybe you’ve never stolen a woman’s virginity, but you rob
her future husband of the gratification that God intended only him to have when
you lust after her. You don’t have to steal money to be a thief. If
Jesus came today and looked at the temple of God in you, would He have the same
reaction as He did in Jerusalem with the corrupt merchants? Would He get angry
at what He saw or would He be pleased with what He sees in your life?
Friends, if we have pollution in God’s temple, then it’s time for us to allow
Jesus to clean it out and stop trying to hide and cover up our sins.
day a man purchased a white mouse to use as food for his pet snake. He dropped
the mouse into the snake’s glass cage, where the snake was sleeping in a bed of
sawdust. What did the terrified mouse do? He quickly set to work covering the
snake with sawdust chips until it was completely buried. With that, the mouse
apparently thought he had solved his problem. Listen, no matter how hard we
try to hide or deny our sins, it’s futile. Sin will eventually awake from
its sleep and shake off its cover and eat us alive.
how do we allow Jesus to cleanse our lives from sin and corruption? If
you are not a Christian, you must trust in Christ alone to forgive your sins.
The Bible says: “All the prophets say it is true that all who believe in
Jesus will be forgiven of their sins.” (Acts 10:43). Before we become
Christians, our lives are contaminated by sin. This sin separates us from God.
And since God is holy and perfect, He cannot dwell in our contaminated bodies
until we trust Christ to forgive us and cleanse us of all our wrongdoings. So,
the moment you put your faith in Jesus Christ for salvation, God removes the
barriers of sin and comes to live inside you forever.
you are already a Christian, the Bible instructs you to confess your sin
to God: “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our
sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9). To confess
means to agree with God that what you did, said or thought was wrong. When you
do this, God is faithful to forgive you and cleanse you from all sin, even that
which you are not aware of.
Jesus, as I read the Scripture this morning, I found myself sitting in judgment
over the religious leaders of Israel who had turned the temple of God into a
place of peddling instead of a place of prayer. But Your Spirit convicted me
that I am no better than those religious leaders. I also have stolen from
others, especially from You, my Lord and my God. Instead of giving You my time,
talents, and treasures, I keep them to myself, taking from You what is
rightfully Yours. I have also stolen from others with my words and my thoughts.
Like the religious leaders, I also have made it difficult for others to
approach You in worship by being less than Christlike towards them. Oh my Lord
and my God, I agree with You that I have sinned against You and others with my
thoughts, my words, and my actions. Thank You for forgiving me and cleansing me
of all my sins including those I am not aware of. Thank You for fighting for me
so I may approach You just as I am when others have made it difficult to do so
with their various regulations and rituals. Thank You for being for me and not
against me. In Jesus’ name. Amen.