This is the third Sunday in Lent and todays gospel is about Trust. Where do we place our trust these days? What do we place our trust in? I assure you most our peers don’t put their trust in Jesus, in fact many Christians don’t put their faith in Christ and faith is what we are talking about here. Without faith you can’t have Trust and vice versa they’re mutually interchangeable concepts. We don’t seem to have a problem putting our faith in political systems, tv, sports personalities. We even put our faith into corporate America and the almighty dollar. All these things we are told are perfectly acceptable things to place our trust in, instead of the kingdom of God, instead of the promises that Jesus made, instead of eternal salvation. Not even the Pharisee were that blind. But we are, I don’t really blame the Pharisee as much as I blame contemporary society, because the Pharisee had an established status quo and a vested interest in keeping things the way they were. Honestly if you think about it they weren’t any different than we are today in that respect. We like our religion straight up, with no complications, no conflict and by God we’ll do whatever it takes to keep it that way period. The Pharisee were no different in their day. Part of the problem that arises with respect to Jesus and the Pharisee regards the difference between faith and respect. While faith and trust are synonomous, respect is necessary, you must have respect for God before you can trust Him and have faith in Him. This goes for everything else in life, in Christianity, in our daily dealing with each other, it doesn’t matter. Civilization is based on respect. Respect for God, respect for ourselves, and respect for others, without that respect their can be no trust and without trust there can be no faith, and faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead, [James 2:17] without faith we have nothing but works and no amount of works will bring you to the Father. Only faith in Jesus can bring us eternal life, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. [John 14:6]
And you cannot come to Christ except through faith in Him and before you can have faith you must have trust and respect and before you can have all these things you must first confess your sins and then turn from them, turn from evil and turn to God. Confession and repentance are the beginning of respect, for yourself, for Jesus, for God, stop lying to yourself, admit that you don’t got this, because God cares, he will forgive you and love you, we are his children and heirs to his Kingdom. We are human, and we are born to sin, there is no getting around that, or out of it without God and you need Jesus to get to God, besides you can’t lie to God, do yourself a favor don’t even try. The Passover of the Jews was near, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. In the temple he found people selling cattle, sheep, and doves, and the money changers seated at their tables. Making a whip of cords, he drove all of them out of the temple, both the sheep and the cattle. He also poured out the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. He told those who were selling the doves, “Take these things out of here! Stop making my Father’s house a marketplace!” [2:13-16] You see… at that time… the only way that you could get rid of sin, was to make a blood sacrifice because the wages of sin are death, Romans tells us that, and the instant that you committed a sin you were spiritually dead physically alive but spiritually dead. And God would only accept blood as payment for that sin. And you shall bring to the Lord, as your penalty for the sin that you have committed, a female from the flock, a sheep or a goat, as a sin offering; and the priest shall make atonement on your behalf for your sin. But if you cannot afford a sheep, you shall bring to the Lord, as your penalty for the sin that you have committed, two turtledoves or two pigeons, one for a sin offering and the other for a burnt offering. [Leviticus 5:6-7] You see even in those days if you were too poor to properly get rid of your sin then there was always the discounted rate. Therein lies the problem. The demand for this was huge at Passover, everyone that could come to Jerusalem and the Temple did. If you traveled a great distance you didn’t want to bring a sacrifice with you, probably couldn’t, even if you were rich. It just wasn’t practical. It was also tax time. The temple tax was due for upkeep of the temple, because the ½ shekel temple tax could only be paid with a shekel or ½ shekel coin, no other type of coin was accepted, and throw in the sales on animal’s… and you had to have money changers as well.
Where there’s money there’s someone wanting a piece of it, so now you have vendor’s selling turkey legs and kettle corn, ok maybe I’m exaggerating a little. So, what happens when there’s a demand for something, someone will supply that demand and next thing you know there’s a farmer’s market in your Temple. Can you imagine coming in to church on Christmas eve and wading through a flea market, buying a couple of doves to sacrifice for your yearly sins plus paying your required tax for the upkeep of the church? Imagine that. Just like the Pharisee in the temple, we tend to commercialize religion, especially Christmas, so we don’t have anything to say about the Pharisee, there’s nothing we can say because we do the same thing 2000 years later and we still commercialize holy days, Resurrection day is coming, you may know it better as Easter and corporate America will rake in billions of dollars over the course of Holy week, all in the name of profit, because we have removed God from Easter and Christmas, it is no longer a time to celebrate the birth and resurrection of our savior. Instead we celebrate things that have no relation to God, we celebrate corporate greed. In those days, I won’t say that Passover held greater significance than it does today for Judaism because that would be insulting to any person of the Jewish faith but like Christianity and Christmas it has suffered a bit from age. Because this generation does not have the veneration for the Lord that is found as you go farther back in time and that’s partially due to the size of our culture and the huge array of choices that we are constantly bombarded with daily. It tends to drown out the word of God. It doesn’t really matter does it? I mean today we can just whip out a credit card and tithe on the spot, bingo, instant fire insurance. Luckily for us, we don’t need a blood sacrifice any longer to get rid of our sins. Now, when Jesus comes into the temple and kicks butt it’s one of my most favorite passages, of course there are over 31,000 verses in the Bible and I have a lot of favorites, but still, Jesus is righteously angry here, and with good cause and everyone tends to forget three things about Jesus. He is capable of anger and laughter because He is HUMAN, just like us, with all the emotions, good and bad that we have. What would you do if someone came into your father’s house, your house and disrespected it? I’d be angry too. You see the people had lost all respect for the house of the Lord, for His Fathers house, he reminds them with those words that not only is he the Son of Man but the Son of God. But they do not hear him.
They are not listening, of course neither are we. Look around the world today, we have been warned, we have been educated, we know the consequences of a life of sin, we know what Jesus sacrificed for us and that we are guaranteed eternal life, we know what’s expected of us as Christians and yet we still don’t listen. Still we seek signs, we ask, is that what God means, really, are you sure? His disciples remembered that it was written, “Zeal for your house will consume me.” The Jews then said to him, “What sign can you show us for doing this?” Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” [2:17-19] The disciples heard him, this time they remembered the words of the prophets but not the Pharisee, and both were focused on the here and now and not the divine. Both heard Jesus but neither understood what it was that He was talking about. Neither one truly heard Him, heard His message. Essentially, He was baiting the Pharisee, “go ahead do your worst, you see what I can do. He had just run everyone out of the Temple, interrupted a holy gathering and stopped the priests from performing their jobs, rebuked them in front of a multitude and all they can say is “well, who do you think you are?” what they’re really asking Jesus is by what authority does He say these things. And Jesus gives them prophecy again, and again they just don’t hear him. Now I am divided on this because, the Pharisee are the number one authority on scripture, back then they only had the first five books of the bible, the Pentateuch. So, I must wonder if it was all part of God’s design, I mean of course it was but really, if anyone should have gotten it, it was the Pharisee. They should have been falling all over themselves, proclaiming the Messiah, instead they were his greatest enemies after Satan. No repentance there, no respect, no faith, certainly no trust. The Jews then said, “This temple has been under construction for forty-six years, and will you raise it up in three days?” But he was speaking of the temple of his body. After he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this; and they believed the scripture and the word that Jesus had spoken. [2:20-22] Again we just aren’t getting any reception here, this time it’s both groups that are confused, though the disciples do finally get it. The Pharisee not even, they have no respect for Jesus, they are committed to the secular world and have completely abandoned God. I really feel sorry for them at this point, at least the disciples get it eventually or are allowed to after the Holy Spirit comes on them.
The Pharisee never do, there Temple really is destroyed less than 40 years later, many of the people that heard Jesus that day would live to see the destruction of the Temple, though none would live to see it rebuilt. I can’t help but imagine what they must have thought when the Temple was destroyed, they absolutely had to have remembered what Jesus said, because his resurrection was just as well witnessed and testified to. At what point do you finally acknowledge that Jesus is Lord? What must happen before you finally get down on your knees and ask forgiveness? When do we as a people, not a nation but as people, all nations, all people, everyone finally put our trust in God? When do we start serving our Lord and King, our Saviour, Master and Creator of the Universe. When will we believe in the scripture and the words as spoken by Jesus? That’s a lot to ask, and they’re hard questions that really can’t be answered collectively, because the answer depends on God alone, so I’ll leave you with a basic guide. Stop lying to yourself, you’re not fooling God, turn to Jesus, place your trust in Him, your faith will be rewarded.