The sermon will follow on from the material being used in House groups.
We are no doubt familiar with the concept of a “house clearance” where a company will remove the contents from a certain dwelling. Well here is a “house clearance” with a difference!
Its Passover time in Jerusalem and Jesus has already entered the city to triumphant acclaim on a donkey before retreating to the oasis of Bethany overnight. Next morning he re-enters the city and heads for the temple. His eyes are offended by all the buying and selling; his ears by the cacophony of animal noises; his nostrils by the pungent smell of dung; his conscience by the ordinary people being swindled and fleeced by the merchants and religious leaders working in tandem.
In the sight of such injustice he engages in a ministry of “house clearance,” overturning the tables and driving out the buyers and sellers from the temple, not in a fit of pique, but in an act of righteous indignation. A rather different image to the “gentle Jesus meek and mild” that many of us will have been brought up on!
But it was more than the racketeering and exploitation that upset Jesus, bad as that was; what really riled him was summed up in his bringing together of two Old Testament Scriptures that demonstrated how far the temple had departed from the original intention (Isaiah 56 v 7 & Jeremiah 7 v 11) “My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations. But you have made it a den of robbers.”
Now the temple, God’s House, is often viewed as a picture of the church, with these words of Jesus indicating that if it is to be what it is intended to be, then three characteristics are required:-
1 – IMMINENCE.
According to Jesus the temple is – “my house.” It belongs to him, it is his dwelling place. So it is that the church does not belong to the denomination, to the Minister, to the Leaders or to the people; it is his house, it belongs to him (1 Corinthians 1 v 2) and he can be encountered there in terms of his imminent presence.
2 – INTERACTION.
According to Jesus the temple- “will be called a house of prayer” where people can interact with God in prayerful communication. So it is that the church is to be a place of prayer, a sacred space, where people can enjoy direct dealings and connection with God as they burrow into his presence (Acts 2 v 42 / Acts 4 v 23 – 31.)
3 – INCLUSION.
According to Jesus the temple is – “for all nations,” a place where people will come and covenant with the nation and the God of Israel in line with God’s promise to Abraham (Genesis 12 v 3.) So it is that the church is to be a place of welcome and inclusion for the nations of the world (Galatians 3 v 28) where being one in Christ Jesus they can become a reflection of what is to come (Revelation 7 v 9.)
Pause 4 thought.
“Jesus entered Jerusalem and went to the temple. He looked around at everything” (Mark 11 v 11.) As Jesus looks around this church, what does he see? Does he see a church where people encounter him; commune with him in prayer; a multi-ethnic church where all are embraced and integrated?
Theme: “House clearance!”
Reading: Mark 11 v 12 – 19
Preacher: Chris Hughes
Led by: Richard Sills