Message: ‘Meeting Jesus’ Text: Luke 19:45-48; 20-1-8
Introduction: PP: My God in his steadfast love will meet me; (Psalm 59:10a) Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. (1 Thessalonians 4:17)
God wants us to meet Him, to be in relationship with Him. And when we meet Him, everything changes, now, tomorrow and into eternity.
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The church, both this building physically, and you and I as the body of Christ, are called to facilitate that meeting and not hinder it. As the big C Church, I wonder how we’re doing with that.
ILL: St. John’s University is known for being a theological school where intellectualism is highly regarded. Someone wrote the following graffiti on one of the walls there: PP:
- Jesus said unto them: “Who do you say that I am?”
- And they replied: “You are the eschatological manifestation of the ground of our being, the kerygma in which we find the ultimate meaning of our interpersonal relationships.
- PP: And Jesus said: “What?” (Jeff Strite)
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Presenting Jesus that way can hinder people, especially the lost, from meeting Jesus. But, if the lost eventually do find their way into the church building, and if we’re not facilitating their meeting with Jesus, we’ve failed at being the church.
That’s what happened to the Jewish religious system, to the temple in Jesus’ day. It was no longer facilitating the meeting between the lost and God.
Background: Our text this morning is once again a very familiar one. And our familiarity with the event can blind us to what’s behind it, to what Jesus wants us to see and learn.
So, please do me a favor this morning, lets read and study our text, not in light of what we’ve heard before, but in light of the context of Luke.
- Jesus is heading into Jerusalem to give His life on the cross.
- Along the way He stops and has dinner at Zacchaeus’ home where Jesus gives us His mission statement: The Son of man came to see and to save the lost.
- This is the theme, the central focus as Jesus heads to the cross.
I’m skipping over Luke 19:28-44, Jesus’ triumphal entry and when He stops to weep over the city, because I spoke on that text on Palm Sunday.
- But understand, His mission statement, the theme of seeking and saving the lost is the reason He cried over Jerusalem.
- It wasn’t the town, but the lost people in that town that broke His heart.
However, what we’ll see in our text are not Jesus’ tears but His righteous anger over what had become of God’s place to meet the lost.
Transition: Open your Bibles to Luke 19:45.
- Luke 19:45-48 Jesus cleanses the temple
PP: A. Luke 19:45-46 The house of God
And He entered the temple and began to drive out those who sold, saying to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be a house of prayer,’ but you have made it a den of robbers.”
This is not the first time Jesus cleansed the Temple in Jerusalem.
- After Jesus finished calling His 12 disciples, He then went to Cana and did His first miracle of turning water into wine.
- Following that, we’re told in John 2:13-14 that Jesus cleansed the temple during a previous Passover.
It seems to me that the religious leaders who approved of the commerce in the Temple and the merchants didn’t learn from what Jesus had done and said about three years earlier.
Here’s what was happening during the yearly Passover celebrations.
There would have been upwards of 1.5 million people in Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover.
PP: That required a great number of Money Changers who set up booths in the Court of the Gentiles in the Temple. It was their job to exchange currency for the mandatory Temple Tax for the people who came from outside Jerusalem.
- Like the Tax Collectors of Jesus’ day, the Money Changers grossly over charged people for exchanging currency.
PP: It also required a great number of booths to sell animals for the daily sacrifices.
- While you could buy an animal outside the Temple walls or even bring one with you from home, the religious leaders inspected them and they always were rejected… so you had to buy one inside the Court of the Gentiles. And you were being ripped off with the cost. It was legal robbery.
- So between the money changers, the animal merchants and a few thousand animals, the Court of the gentiles was crowded, noisy and smelly.
The Court of the Gentiles had so much commerce going on there was little space to even stand.
PP: Let me make a local comparison. Think Belmar Seafood Festival. Kathy and I stopped going two years ago because you couldn’t walk around. There were so many people that the police had to close the town to all traffic coming in.
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Look, it would have been absolutely CRAZY in the Court of the Gentiles when Jesus entered. No room to move and the only thing going on was the people were being cheated.
And it’s in this chaotic scene, that Jesus once again violently clears out the merchants.
- He calls them what they are; criminals,
And as He’s doing this He reminds everyone that the Temple (He refers to it as My house) was supposed to be a House of Prayer, where you could meet with God.
Make sure you get the picture… nothing of eternal value was going on in the Court of the Gentiles, so Jesus removed every hindrance to worship and prayer.
PP: B. Luke 19:47-48 The Word of God
And He was teaching daily in the temple. The chief priests and the scribes and the principal men of the people were seeking to destroy Him, but they did not find anything they could do, for all the people were hanging on His words.
Note: This is not a chronology of what happened. Rather, Dr. Luke, reflects here on what Jesus did in the temple after He cleansed it. And what did Jesus do in the Temple daily? He taught the people.
- About the righteous requirements of the Kingdom of God.
- About repentance and faith.
- About serving God.
- About caring for the needs of others.
- About how He would to suffer, die and be raised again on the third day.
- About how lost sheep matter.
And notice, the people were hanging on His every word. Jesus spoke with authority, but also with compassion and grace. His words brought peace and hope to those who were broken and lost.
Friend, when you hear, when you read, God’s Word,
- Does it capture your heart?
- Do you hang on to every word?
- Is it life and light to you?
ILL: PP: When Dr. David Livingstone started his trek across Africa, he had 73 books in 3 packs, weighing 180 pounds. After the party had gone 300 miles, Livingstone was compelled to throw away some of the books because of the fatigue of those carrying his baggage. As he continued on his journey his library grew less and less, until he had but one book left—his Bible. That was a non-negotiable! (Todd Stiles)
ILL: The famous traveling preacher John Wesley once said “I am a man of one book.” (Todd Stiles)
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Look, whether you’re reading God’s Word yourself, or listening to someone else read it, it’s the same as Jesus speaking it to you…
- Breathe it in.
- Let it become part of who you are.
You will meet Jesus, when you hang on to His every word.
However, the religious elite were also hanging on to Jesus’ every word, but not to allow it to change their hearts, no, rather to find fault with Him so they could have Jesus killed.
- But because the people were still enamored with Jesus, the religious leaders could do nothing… at least not yet.
- Luke 20:1-8 Jesus’ authority challenged
PP: A. Luke 20:1-2 By what authority?
One day, as Jesus was teaching the people in the temple and preaching the gospel, the chief priests and the scribes with the elders came up and said to Him, Tell us by what authority You do these things, or who it is that gave You this authority.
Dr. Luke moves from 19:48 to 20:1 with the same theme… Jesus was teaching daily in the Temple. This time we learn He’s specifically preaching the Gospel.
- Jesus was teaching the people the Good News that the Kingdom of God was now among them. That where the king is, so is the kingdom, and that He is the King of God’s Kingdom.
- Surely, Jesus called the people to come to Him to experience God’s extravagant grace, to cry out to Him for divine mercy and to humbly seek His face for forgiveness of their sin.
Jesus came to seek and to save the lost.
While Jesus was doing this, He’s interrupted by a group of religious leaders; the chief priest, the scribes and elders… the big guns of Jewish religion.
And they ask Him a question. ‘Who made you the boss of me?’ OK, not exactly like that… but still:
Tell us by what authority You do these things, or who it is that gave You this authority.
What we see is a battle for who gets to lead the Jewish people… at least it was a battle in the religious leader’s minds.
They were not going to give up what they had worked so long and hard to obtain.
So they challenge Jesus’ right, His authority, to do what He had been doing.
Understand in a way, their question is justified.
- The chief priests, scribes and elders made up the Sanhedrin, the supreme court of Jewish law. They earned their authority by their schooling and position.
- Jesus… didn’t study under any rabbi, He was not a member of the Pharisees, Sadducees, He was not a scribe, an Elder or a priest.
Sidebar: When a rabbi would do something… to justify it, he would say ‘Rabbi so and so said…’ But Jesus only used God’s Word to justify His actions… Over and over again Jesus said
- ‘It is written…’ ‘Have you not read?’ ‘Have you not heard?’
Even so, the religious elite asked ‘What gives you the right to cleanse OUR Temple and to parade around here like you’re more than who you really are… a misguided nobody?’
Let’s be real. We’re no different than the religious elite in our text.
- We resist those who challenge our right to govern our own lives.
- We cry out to Jesus to lead and guide, to rule and reign when we’re lost and confused. But when we’re doing ok, we ever so politely, ask Him to butt out.
‘By what authority?’ is a fundamental question of life each of us must deal with.
- Will you live your life under God’s authority or under some human authority, be it yourself or someone else?
PP:B. Luke 20:3-8 Religious leaders challenged
He answered them, “I also will ask you a question. Now tell Me, was the baptism of John from heaven or from man?” And they discussed it with one another, saying, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ He will say, ‘Why did you not believe him?’ But if we say, ‘From man,’ all the people will stone us to death, for they are convinced that John was a prophet.” So they answered that they did not know where it came from. And Jesus said to them, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I do these things.”
While what Jesus said might be considered a clever debating point, it was much more than that.
- Had the religious elite answered His question correctly, they would have gotten the answer to their own question.
Let me explain.
- It was clear from Scripture that John the Baptist believed he was the forerunner of Israel’s Messiah.
And that Jesus was in fact, the long awaited promised Messiah of God’s people.
- If the religious leaders said that John received his authority as a prophet (that’s what the baptism of John refers too.) If the religious leaders said that John received his authority as a prophet from God, then they had to agree that Jesus was Israel’s Messiah, because John said He was.
- However, if they said John’s authority was from man, the people would rebel against them because they all believed John was a prophet of God.
But, their own pride, greed and sin would not allow them to answer Jesus’ question. So Jesus refused to answer theirs.
People, then and now, continually dance around that question.
- You see, they refuse to admit that Jesus is God’s Messiah, that He is God Himself.
- Because to do so would make them accountable, answerable to Him.
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Conclusion: I began this morning by saying God wants us to meet Him, to be in relationship with Him. And I said that as a church we can either facilitate that meeting or be a hindrance to it.
I said that, because it’s what I saw when I read Luke 19:45-48. It was ever so clear that was perhaps the most importance thing Jesus wanted us to get from that passage.
- Almost everyone I read spent time on how the merchants were robbing God’s people financially.
- What I saw was how they were robbing the lost, spiritually.
Jesus came to seek and to save the lost. One of the principle places where the lost might be found by God in Jesus’ day, was the Temple. That was God house.
- It’s where He placed His name.
- It’s where sacrifices were made to atone for sin and restore a right relationship with God.
- It’s where you came to worship God.
- It’s where you came to cry out to God in prayer.
And it was a place that was not supposed to be just for the Jewish people.
In the same event in Marks Gospel this is what we read: PP: And He was teaching them and saying to them, “Is it not written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations’? But you have made it a den of robbers.”(Mark 11:17)
For all nations… in other words, for everyone, including Gentiles.
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Let’s go back to see the big picture and start to put this all together.
PP: 3 slides Now let’s try to visualize it.
This is what the Court of the Gentiles would have looked and felt like.
- PP: Did you know the Court of the Gentiles was the only place in the temple; non-Jews could enter to pray, to worship, to meet God?
The only place for the lost to meet God was in an over crowded, chaotic animal market with no room to even breath let alone worship and pray.
- That made the Temple, at least to the lost Gentiles, ineffective, because it was hindering them from meeting God.
- An no Jew even cared.
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Yet, Gentiles did come… God was doing a great work in the lies of the lost. In John’s Gospel, during this very Passover we read this: Now among those who went up to worship at the feast were some Greeks. So these came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and asked him, “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.” (John 12:20–21)
Friends, CBC family. This text threw me to my knees.
- Am I doing anything to hinder the lost from finding Jesus here at CBC?
- Am I doing everything I can to facilitate the lost meeting Jesus here at CBC?
And then the questions changed, their scope increased:
- Are we doing anything to hinder the lost from finding Jesus here at CBC?
- Are we doing everything we can to facilitate the lost meeting Jesus here at CBC?
Perhaps we should be asking God to upend the tables in our selfish lives, to overturn any desire we might have to stay w/I our comfort zones.
Perhaps we should be asking God to place us under His authority.
Perhaps we should be seeking God’s face to know how to better facilitate the lost meeting Jesus here at CBC.
Look, Jesus came into Jerusalem and He didn’t attack the Roman rulers occupying the city. Jesus came and cleansed His temple.
- I wonder if He needs to do that in His church today?
- I wonder if he needs to do that in you and I?