Last week our studies in John 2 took us inside the Temple with Jesus and His disciples during the Passover week in His first year of public ministry. But, this visit inside the Temple courts took an unexpected turn. Instead of kneeling for prayer, Jesus knelt to tie together a whip of cords and proceeded to clean house! He was righteously angry that these courts in His Father’s house had been reduced to a kind of flea market. In this, we saw the real Jesus and His zeal for real worship. But, the scene wasn’t over. When the dust cleared, one of the guys who had just been run out of the Temple, steadied himself to challenge the authority of the Man with the whip. My friends, Jesus’ response to this challenge is remarkable and pregnant with meaning for us today.
TEXT: John 2:13-17. Let’s suppose that you were to survey a hundred random people with the following question: “what adjectives would you use to describe Jesus Christ.” My guess is that adjectives like loving, merciful, kind, forgiving, and gracious would be well represented. To be clear, they should be. However, a comprehensive study of the life of Christ helps the honest person to see that the list of adjectives to describe Him is much longer. In fact, the list includes adjectives that some might find surprising. One such adjective is front and center in our text. In John 2:13-17, Jesus is angry. We’ll see why Jesus is so angry and why His reaction is not only appropriate it’s also endearing.
As we open up chapter 2 of John’s gospel, we will see the first of seven signs that John records in chapters 1-12, whereby Jesus manifests His glory. It’s the Sign of Fine Wine =). Yes, this first manifestation of glory is familiar, but there may be more to it than you originally thought.
I trust you’ve had a good week and that you’re looking forward to another opportunity to gather together in worship of our great God! As we open His word together, we’ll be engaging John 1:19-34. In this opening act of the narrative of John’s Gospel, we’ll see a curious delegation of the religious establishment pay a visit to our friend, Jonny B. As they inquire about whether he is or claims to be “the One”, we’ll see both a denial and an affirmation. John the Baptist expressly denies his own importance and affirms the identity of the One who is. Friends, we can learn so much from him about how to engage people today – how to be a witness for Christ. Moreover, we will also have ample reason to stand in awe of our Savior again! Let’s get ready to worship as we “Behold the Lamb of God who comes to take away the sin of the world”!
Well, as we continue to make our initial descent into the Gospel of John, we’ll consider the latter half of the introduction (or prologue) to his record about Jesus. In a message we’ve titled “The Word and Witness,” we’ll consider the two characters verses 6-18 reveal. The first (the Witness) is an eccentric character whose aim is to draw our attention to the second (the Word). The “Word” is both the point of this passage and the ultimate point of all of human history. You see, the “Word” is a person…the revelation of God in Christ!
“They shall his name Immanuel (which means, God with us)” – Mt. 1:23
The reality of Christ’s coming to this earth to be with His people – to be with us – is cause for great rejoicing and reflection. Thus, it is such a good rhythm for us to pause each December to celebrate Christmas. So far in our corporate gatherings, we’ve taken intentional time to consider the joy and comfort His advent should bring. Tomorrow, we consider the theme of Hope. As we do, we will seek to consider the coming of the Messiah through Jewish eyes…as family history. And this is appropriate as the tale of redemption is our story. Indeed, it is our family history! So, I want to encourage you to prepare your hearts and minds to see the fuller picture tomorrow as we continue to dwell upon the meaning of Christmas. It is a picture that will undoubtedly fill us with HOPE!
“It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas.” I was singing along with Michael Buble to this classic today as I thought about the many things that are so great about this time of year. I love the parties, cookies, decorations, gift-giving, family time, and music, etc. But, most of all, I love the rhythm of remembrance regarding the coming of Christ. Indeed, Jesus is the reason for the season.
Last week Matt helped us to think about the many reasons we have for genuine Joy as we consider the coming of Christ. Tomorrow we will consider the theme of Comfort. While it may not seem to possess an immediate connection to joy, I think that the path to the kind of joy that transcends circumstances must first pass through the comfort of God. As we consider this Christmas theme tomorrow, I hope that you will be reminded of the tremendous comfort that is available to you in Christ. Moreover, I hope that you will be motivated to spread it to those around you. The best present you give this year might be a hug…along with a heartfelt expression of love.
I hope that you’ve been able to enjoy the beauty of fall in these past couple of weeks. Trees turning fiery red or bright yellow is spectacular to see and another beautiful reminder of the goodness of our great God. Fittingly, these sights are also a reminder that Thanksgiving is upon us. But, I hope that Thanksgiving is more than a holiday for you. I truly hope that it is more than an event where we might be forced to come up with a few things we’re thankful for. I hope that Thanksgiving is a lifestyle.
I think that the book of Philippians could be subtitled something like “Thanksgiving Living”. So much of what Paul shares with the church at Philippi in this letter is aimed at a lifestyle of joy and thanksgiving. We’re going to consider this over the next two Sundays as we dive into Philippians 2:14-18. I look forward to studying this with you!
*As we enter this holiday season, let’s be mindful of the many in our midst who grieve recent loss. May our hugs, cards, words, and prayers communicate the care and support of our gracious God.
Billions of dollars are spent each year to keep our nation, homes, bank accounts, investments, internet, passwords, and our lives secure. We want to live with the confidence that we are safe from enemies who would steal, kill, and destroy. But, what about the ultimate enemies? What about Satan and all his forces of evil? All those billions can’t ultimately protect against him. What about death? All the money and supposed security in the world will eventually fail against this (nearly) undefeated foe.
But friends, we have access to a SECURITY that money can’t buy! In Christ, we are tethered to the ONE who has defeated death and hell and Satan! In Him, we have overcome the enemy who would steal, kill, and destroy. With the real Jesus, we have an abundant life that is full of joy and hope! The Real Jesus has made All the Difference and provides Real Assurance. This is what John has reminded us of in his first letter, and I, for one, have been blessed by it over these last several months. We conclude this study tomorrow as we look at 1 John 5:13-21, yet I hope we don’t conclude the experience of security. I trust that we will put the message of this portion of God’s word into a Belt of Truth that we wear every day!