Friday, November 13, 2009

Zeal for God's House - John 2:13-17

"And the Passover of the Jews was at hand,
and Jesus went up to Jerusalem.
And He found in the temple those who were
selling oxen and sheep and doves,
and the moneychangers seated.
And He 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 moneychangers,
and overturned their tables;
and to those who were selling the doves He said,
'Take these things away,
stop making my Father's house a house of merchandise.'
His disciples remembered that it was written,
'Zeal for Thy house will consume Me.'"
(vs 13-17)

The last we saw of Christ, He was celebrating with a bride and groom. The occasion was a joyous one where laughter, joy, feasting and gaiety abounded. The tone is much different in this second public appearance of Christ.

He comes to the temple - His Father's house here on earth - and He finds idolatry, greed, and selfish gain rather than true worship of the God who made heaven and earth. Christ's wedding joy is replaced with holy anger and He of whom everything in the temple is a shadow is about to cast out darkness in order that the true light might once again shine forth in that place!

What strong emotion we see come from our Lord where His church is concerned. This fervent zeal is exhibited when He sees His house being desecrated and profaned. Interestingly, it happens twice in His ministry - once at the beginning (of which this is an account of) and again at the end (see Mt 21:12).

Christ is angry - seriously angry - at these events. Recognizing that He is the sinless Christ we must acknowledge that obviously his anger is righteous and with an equitable purpose. Let it be noted from these things that Christ does not take any pleasure in irreverent behavior in His house! He is serious about His church and her worship. We would be wise to find ourselves serious as well!

I am again pierced to the quick by J.C. Ryle's words and application of this text to my heart. He writes:

"The passage is one that ought to raise deep searchings of heart in many quarters. Are there none who profess and call themselves Christians, behaving every Sunday just as badly as these Jews? Are there none who secretly bring into the house of God their money, their lands, their houses, their cattle, and a whole train of worldly affairs? Are there none who bring their bodies only into the place of worship, and allow their hearts to wander into the ends of the earth? Are there none who are 'almost in all evil, in the midst of the congregation'? (Pr 5:14). These are serious questions! Multitudes, it may be feared, could not give them a satisfactory answer."

How true, Mr. Ryle, they are serious questions and I am smitten by them. Where is my God-centeredness in worship? How often is it about me rather than about Him?

We would all do well to heed Solomon's counsel from Ecclesiastes 5 - "Guard your steps as you go to the house of God, and draw near to listen rather than to offer the sacrifice of fools; for they do not know they are doing evil."

May God grant me the grace to be reverent in my worship. May He enable me to guard my steps as I enter His courts that I might enter them with sincere thanksgiving, awe, and praise. As He twice cleared the earthly temple may He clear my heart that I might be, by grace, considered to be one without guile in the area of worship.

In His glorious grace,

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