Serve God as He deserves
Text: John 2: 13-22
Focus: John 2: 16
The Jews went to Jerusalem to celebrate Passover. The custom then was that each person brings his own animal to sacrifice at the temple. But chances were that the animal would not be approved by the priests. So, every person was forced to buy his sacrificial animal there on the temple court, meaning vendors pushed up their prices.
The money changers did the same, also exploiting the people. There was a rule that only Jewish money could be used to pay the offerings to the Lord (Ex. 30:13). These money changers then charged an extra fee for every exchange. In this way the travellers who came from afar were deceived.
Moreover, there were so many vendors and money changers in the temple court that there was no room for worship in spite of the fact that it had been specifically made so that the Gentiles could worship God there.
In this way the temple, which is supposed to be a house of prayer, became a den of thieves. Instead of worship, trade was conducted. In other words, the focus is not on worship, but on how much money can be made.
Despite the clear instructions from God, the Jews themselves decided how they wanted to worship the Lord.
Herein lies an expensive lesson: We can so easily lose perspective through our worship becoming a way to gain something, instead of coming together to worship God. For pastors, preaching can easily become a way to show the congregation what a good preacher he is, instead of bringing the congregation to worship God. For the congregation, church attendance can easily become a place where you as a person need to gain something. Perhaps worship is about showing others what a good person you are. Maybe you go to church to meet potential clients. In all of these examples, the focus shifts away from worship, while all the focus falls on you as a person.
What John is doing here is to give us three reasons why Jesus should be the centre of our worship; why He alone is worthy to be worshiped.
He is the Messiah
First came the cleansing of the temple, the fulfillment of Malachi 3: 1-3. This passage looks ahead to the Messiah who will come to cleanse people's way of worship.
In verse 16 it says that Jesus refers to God as his Father. With that, John declares Jesus' divine childhood and that He is the Messiah. He is the one of whom the prophets wrote and who has now finally come into the world. He is the fulfillment of the prophets' message and therefore He is worthy to be worshiped.
He bears our punishment
The second reason why Jesus should be the focus of worship is based on the following words: "The love of your house consumes me".
Paul quotes the same verse in Romans when He says: "For even Christ did not please himself but, as it is written: ‘The insults of those who insult you have fallen on me”.’ (Rom. 15: 3).
The punishment we deserve was borne in our place by Christ. With His blood He paid for us and therefore He is worthy to be the focus of our worship.
He conquers death
The third reason Jesus is worthy to be the focus of our worship is found in his words: “Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days.” (John 2:19).
Verse 21 shows us that the disciples only later realised that Jesus was talking about his body which would be broken down and would rise from the dead after three days. Jesus made the impossible possible in our place. He overcame death. The penalty for our sin is death and the fact that Jesus rose from the dead, shows that He paid the price in full.
In this way God shows us in Jesus that He alone is worthy to be worshiped. He has the power to cleanse us from all our sin and He has power over death.
Worship Him, for He is worthy!