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Sunday, May 27, 2018

posted May 27, 2018, 6:42 PM by Site Administrator


 

ZEAL FOR YOUR HOUSE WILL CONSUME ME

 

John 2:12-25

Key Verse 2:17

 

His disciples remembered that it is written: "Zeal for your house will consume me." 

 

First, "How dare you turn my Father’s house into a market?" (12-16). After having recruited his first disciples in Judea, Jesus came to Cana in Galilee. There, he performed his first miraculous sign, changing the foot-washing water to choice wine, and blessed the newly wed-couple. After this he went down to Capernaum with his mother, brothers and his disciples, and stayed there for a few days. Then, when it was almost time for the Jewish Passover, Jesus went up to Jerusalem with his disciples. It was their first mission venture as Jesus’ disciples. There, something unexpected happened. Look at verses 14 through 16. When they entered the temple courts, Jesus found men selling cattle, sheep and doves. As he was entering the temple courts, he must have expected to see people studying the word of God or praying or to hear beautiful hymns praising God. But instead, he saw the temple crowded with merchants and animals. And everywhere, he heard the animals making a lot of noise and the merchants shouting, "99 cents for two doves!" Maybe, some other people were arguing to cut a better deal. The temple was like a marketplace or a stock market. At this, Jesus made a whip out of cords and drove all from the temple area, both sheep and cattle; he scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. To those who sold doves he said, "Get these out of here! How dare you turn my Father’s house into a market!" Jesus burned with his holy angerand cleared the temple. 

 

Why were there in the temple all these merchants and animals? In the Old Testament, God commanded the Israel people to celebrate the seven feasts every year - the feast of Passover, the feast of Unleavened Bread, the feast of Firstfruits, the feast of Weeks, the feast of Trumpets, the day of Atonement, and the feast of Tabernacles. These feasts were Israel’s most important national holidays. And God commanded the Israel people to keep three of them very specially – the feast of Unleavened Bread, the feast of Weeks, also known as the Pentecost, and the feast of Tabernacles. Every Jewish man should come to the temple in Jerusalem on these three feasts. And God said to them, "No man should appear before the Lord empty-handed: Each of you must bring a gift in proportion to the way the Lord your God has blessed you." (Deu 16:16-17) Based on this command, every Jewish man should come to the temple in Jerusalem three times a year with some offering. So in order to keep these three feasts, at the beginning of each year, they checked out their calendar, marked the dates for these three festivals with thick red ink, and arranged all other occasions such as business trip, vacation plan, family gathering or wedding ceremony around them to make sure that they would be able to come and appear before God in the Jerusalem temple. They set aside the dates for these three feasts, and those days were untouchable, solely dedicated to God. Because of these three feasts, their yearly schedule became God-first and God-centered. Each feast usually lasted one week, so to the Jews from a distance, it required a whole chunk of time – three days or ten days or even one month journey to Jerusalem, seven days' feast, and then, go back home spending the same amount of time. In the eyes of the unbelievers, the Jews looked stubborn and unwise. But the Jews remained as the Jews because they were different in their practical lives like this. Every year, when these feasts came, all the Jews made their journey to Jerusalem from every corner of the world; it was their holy pilgrimage to the city of God. But there was a problem. If you live close to the temple, you have no problem to bring your sheep or cattle as an offering to God. But if you live far away from the temple, you are in big trouble to bring those animals to the temple. So, for this case, God instructed the Jews to take their money, come and buy animals for sacrifices to God in Jerusalem. (Deut 14) So for these pilgrims coming from a distance, the Jews in Jerusalem held a market in the outer court of the temple, called the court of the Gentiles. People exchanged the money, usually, silver, for the Jewish currency, and bought animals for their sacrifices to God. This was the reason why there were merchants, money-changers, cattle, sheep and doves in the temple. Year after year, at every feast, this market was there in the temple, maybe, for several ten years.

 

Then, why was Jesus so angryJesus said to them, "How dare you turn my Father's house into a market?" They held the market not to support God's words, or these pilgrims, but to make money, utilizing God's words and God's temple. God is not the One we can use for our own benefit. Rather, He is the very One whom we must worship and dedicate ourselves to. But these people’s heart was corrupt. They did not come to the temple to worship God and pray, but to make money. Jesus would not tolerate this sin. His heart was burned with anger at these people who spoiled the temple.

 

We remember that Jesus asked the two disciples when they followed him, saying, "What do you want?" We must come to church to worship God, to serve God and to have fellowship with God; we must come to church confessing our sins in Jesus so that we may be restored to the fellowship with God. God says in Isaiah 56:7, "My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations." We must come to church to pray for the salvation of all peoples on earth. Church is the gathering of people who have deep concern for the salvation of all peoples on earth. For this, we must study the Bible and teach others the word of God diligently.

 

Second, "Zeal for your house will consume me" (17-22).Look at verse 17. When Jesus burned with his anger against the merchants in the temple and destroyed the whole market, the disciples were shocked. Yet, at that time, the first thing that came to their mind was God's words: "Zeal for your house will consume me." They could not understand fully what Jesus was doing. Selling cattle, sheep and doves, and exchanging money during the feasts in the temple court was biblical, and well-built religious tradition. They had seen this market every year since they were young. Also, it was extremely dangerous for any person to go against the religious authorities or go against the well established religious practice in the religious society. But Jesus did it, even risking his life. Why did he do so? The disciples saw Jesus' exceptional zeal for God's temple. That's what the disciples saw.

 

"Zeal for your house will consume me." This quotation is from Psalm 69, a psalm of King David. In this psalm, David describes his struggle of how he sought God. He says, "For I endure scorn for your sake and shame covers my face. I am a stranger to my brothers, an alien to my mother's own sons; for zeal for your house consumes me, and the insults of those who insult you fall on me." (Ps 69:7-9) Why did he become a stranger and alien to his own brothers? They were all Israelites, having knowledge of God, and maintaining a certain form of God-worship; everyone talked about God; they prayed before the meal in God's name; but to most of them, it was not real, but simply, they had the culture of God-worship; they did not really seek God but had pride that they believed in God. But David was different; he really had zeal for God - God's house, God's kingdom, God's will and God's people; he was really seeking God's will upon his life; he zealously sought God. As a result, when he talked with his own brothers about what he wanted in his life, about what he was going to do and pursue, simply, they could not understand; his value system, his way of thinking, his future desire and direction and his struggles - simply, they could not understand. In their eyes, it seemed that David was too presumptuous, self-conceited. So, they ridiculed him, saying, "You are lunatic. You don't know the reality." And they advised him to have balance between God and the world. He felt he was a stranger and alien in his family because he was really different from them in his value system, life's purpose, direction, and future hope. One time, David was angry at Goliath who had insulted God and Israel for forty days - all Israel soldiers were afraid of him and just swallowed such humiliation for forty days. But David was angry and said that he would go and kill this uncircumcised man by the power of God. But when Eliab, David's oldest brother, heard him speaking with the men like this, he burned with anger at him and asked, "Why have you come down here? And with whom did you leave those few sheep in the desert? I know how conceited you are and how wicked your heart is; you came down only to watch the battle." (1Sam 17:28) His family never understood his exceptional zeal for God. Because he had zeal for God, only because he sought God wholeheartedly, he had to endure scorns and insults even from his own family members. But that's not all. He says in Psalm 69, "When I weep and fast, I must endure scorn;  11  when I put on sackcloth, people make sport of me.  12  Those who sit at the gate mock me, and I am the song of the drunkards. (Psa 69:10-12) Here, weeping, fasting and putting on sackcloth are the expressions of true repentance and struggle for the real fellowship with God. Other people, due to their religious life, took everything for granted; once they attended worship service, they considered that they were already good; when they offered some sacrifices, they assumed that their sins were already forgiven. Then, when they saw David struggling hard to really repent of his sins and to seek the real fellowship with God, weeping, fasting and putting on sackcloth, they ridiculed him, saying that he was a lunatic, a maniac. The leaders in the society such as priests mocked him and losers such as the drunkards gossiped about him. Due to his sincere struggle to seek God, he became a laughing stock in Israel. But David would not back out. He sought God wholeheartedly. God chose him and established the kingdom of God in Israel through him.

 

When the disciples saw Jesus destroying market in the temple, going against the authority, they could see Jesus' exceptional zeal for God's house, like that of David. This shows that many people in Israel had a sense of problem about this market in the temple. But since it had been a long tradition, and also, since it was operated by the authorities such as chief priests in the temple, no one was willing to protest against it; they were afraid. But Jesus was different; he had zeal for God's house; for the sake of God's house, Jesus was willing to be ridiculed, mocked, and even was willing to die, so he fought against this corruption of the temple by destroying the market. There were so many difficulties to do God's work in this God-believing country Israel. But with exceptional zeal for God, Jesus strived to do God's work. Nothing could stop him or slow him down from loving God and seeking God's kingdom. With such zeal for God's house, Jesus established God's kingdom powerfully in Israel even through his death on the cross.

 

When we think about David's zeal and Jesus' zeal for God's house, we can see how we must seek God's kingdom in our generation. Today, like in the time of David, when you seek God really as David did, you become aliens and strangers even to your own God-believing family members. In the Old Testament, Hosea 9:7 shows that in Israel, the prophet was considered a fool, and if anyone sought God wholeheartedly, they called him "a maniac." In the New Testament, the apostle Paul says, "In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted." (2Ti 3:12) Today, we face the same challenge. I remember one mother who professed that she was a believer - I don't know if she was a real believer or not. She left her son alone when he lived a wild and self-destructive life in Hollywood. But when he repented and struggled to live a holy and godly life, she was angry and persecuted him; she even hired two big guys to kidnap him; they tied him hand and foot, put him in a car trunk, and took him to a deep mountain. When you live a wild life, no one will bother you except demons. But when you live a godly life, people will persecute you. There are many church going people, but because they don't have real zeal for God, God cannot work with them. So, nothing great happens in their lives. Indeed, it is not easy for anyone to build the kingdom of God in this societybecause there are challenges, difficulties and dangers all the time. But when we have the same zeal for Gods house like David, like Jesus, we can build the kingdom of God in all our campuses. May we also have the same testimony, saying, "Zeal for your house consumes me."

 

Look at verse 18. This verse shows us the Jews' response to Jesus' action. They too, could not understand what Jesus was doing. But they never tried to think about the word of God. Instead, simply they opposed and challenged him to prove his authority to do so. At this Jesus said to them, "Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days." Jesus was talking about his death and resurrection. But it sounded like he was giving them a riddle only to confuse them more. Again, they could not understand what he was talking about. So they challenged him again, saying, "It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and you are going to raise it in three days?"

 

But the disciples’ response was different. They too could not understand what Jesus was talking about. But they did not reject his words only because they could not understand them. Instead, they kept them in mind thinking that there must be deep meaning in his words. Then, later, when Jesus rose again in three days, everything became clear, and they could see that Jesus had known everything from the beginning, and everything happened according to the Scriptures. Through this, their eyes were opened to Jesus and the Scriptures, and their faith became concrete based on the word of God.

 

In this passage we see the two different responses to Jesus’ action and words. The Jews challenged Jesus because what Jesus did or what he said was not what they could understand. But the disciples did not reject or challenge Jesus only because what he said or what he did was not what they could understand. Instead, they thought Jesus might have some reason to do so or say so, which they could not understand yet. They tried to understand his action based on God's words. They kept his words in mind instead of rejecting them. Then, when his word was fulfilled in their eyes, they could understand what he meant, and they could grow in faith continuously. People say, "In the school of learning, attitude is everything." When we judge the word of God according to our own understanding or knowledge, we never grow up, because we accept what we already know and reject what we don't understand. But when we have a humble learning mind and follow the disciples’ good example, we can grow continuously finding deep spiritual secrets. 

 

Third, "For he knew all men" (23-25). Look at verses 23 through 25. Let's read these verses together:

 

23Now while he was in Jerusalem at the Passover Feast, many people saw the miraculous signs he was doing and believed in his name. 24But Jesus would not entrust himself to them, for he knew all men. 25He did not need man's testimony about man, for he knew what was in a man. 

 

This passage describes how Jesus' ministry was in Jerusalem. During the feast of Passover, Jesus performed many miracles, and many people believed in him. When these people saw Jesus performing miracles such as healing the sick, opening the eyes of the blind, and driving out demons, they praised and thanked Jesus with many Amens. They were so excited. Wherever Jesus went, a great number of crowd followed all the time. Based on the miraculous signs, they believed in Jesus name. Here, the expression, "They believed in his name," means that they accepted him as the promised Messiah; they professed their faith in Jesus, saying, "You are the Christ." It seemed that his ministry was going very well in Jerusalem; it seemed that Jesus should be happy and welcome them, saying, "Good job. Now you are saved." But Jesus didn't welcome them at all. Verse 24 starts with a big, "But." "But Jesus would not entrust himself to them, for he knew all men." Even though they professed their faith in him, he would not put his trust in them; simply, they said, "I believe that you are the Promised Messiah," he didn't believe what they said; he didn't give them any credit at all. Why? The author apostle John says in verse 24, "for he knew all men." "For he knew all men" This short sentence means that even though people praised Jesus and believed in his name with many thanks and Amen, Jesus knew what kind of person each of them truly was – outwardly, and with their lips, they looked like very good believers, but actually, they were enjoying some amusement or quick benefits through his miracles without any true repentance before God, and they did not have any interest in Jesus. Even if they believed in his name, it was not their faith in Jesus, but the one who performed such miracles, and that person could be anyone. If Simon performed the same miracles, they would say, "Simon is the Christ." Jesus was not deceived by them, for he knew all of them. Verse 25 reads: "He did not need man's testimony about man, for he knew what was in a man." At that time, many people believed in Jesus with many Amens. But Jesus did not need any man to warn him about them saying that their faith was a fake, because he knew what was in a man. When one person professed his faith in him, saying, "I believe that you are the Son of God," the other person did not need to inform Jesus about him, saying, "Jesus, do not be deceived. He is a liar," for Jesus already knew what was in a man. 

 

"For he knew all men." "He knew what was in a man."What scary words these are for those who do not truly love God. They may deceive others through their performance or motion of worship, or their Bible knowledge, but Jesus sees them through. His eyes are like blazing fire, seeing through everything, and all things are exposed to him naked. The apostle Paul warned the believers in Galatia, "Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to pleas the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life." (Gal 6:7,8) At the same time, what comforting words these are for those who truly love him and pursue him! They do not love anything in the world - no compromise at all. Maybe, their performance is less than satisfactory. But their conscience is free to sing and praise God; they are indeed blessed people. Let's be true to God and love Him with all our heart and strength.

 

Let's have zeal for God's house - God's temple, God's church.As the Holy Spirit dwells in us, our body is the house of God. Jesus has zeal for the house of God. So he challenges us to get rid of all corruption and impurity from our heart. May we prepare a room for God at the center of our heart. May we establish the kingdom of God on all the campuses in California and America and in the whole world; it may be challenging, but when we have real zeal for God, God will work with us and build God's kingdom through us. 

 

One Word: Zeal for Your House Will Consume Me

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