Sermon for Lent 3 – March 7, 2021

+ Lent 3 – March 7, 2021 +

Series B: Exodus 20:1-17; 1 Corinthians 1:18-31; John 2:13-25

Beautiful Savior Lutheran

Milton, WA


“Turning the Tables”


In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.


Ever read a bible story or passage and after hearing it or reading it, you think to yourself, “what in the world is going on there?”


I imagine that same question runs through our mind as we hear John’s account of Jesus cleansing the temple. What’s going on? Why is Jesus fashioning weapons and making a scene in the temple? If Jesus did this today he’d be cancelled for exhibiting toxic masculinity, guilty of a microaggression, and sent to anger management. But of course none of that nonsense is going on. In fact, the emotion John mentions of Jesus is not anger, but zeal. Zeal for his Father’s house consumes Jesus. Zeal is a divine jealousy for the things of God and the people of God. This is his Father’s house, and no one else’s. God’s people are his people and belong to no one else.


Jesus’ cleansing the temple is a sign of something new. The temple needed cleansing because in Jesus, the true and perfect sacrifice had come. In Jesus, the true and greater temple was built – not with hands, but from all eternity, and born of the Virgin to save you.  So Jesus cleanses the temple much like you clear a plot of land before building a new house. Jesus cleanses the temple as a sign that the temple location has shifted, from the stones of Herod’s temple to the solid walls of his own flesh and blood – the temple of his body – that will be crucified, destroyed, and in three days raised up again.


Still it’s quite the scene in John 2. Picture the livestock barns from the Puyallup fair set up around the sanctuary. Or tables currency exchange booths in the narthex. It was all rather chaotic. Oxen. Sheep. Pigeons. And moneychangers. All present in the courtyard area. Then Jesus starts wrapping leather straps together, and driving, herding them all out of the temple. Imagine the sound of coins cascading and ricocheting off the stone pavement, tables flipping like a bad family game night.


It’s no accident that John tells us this all goes down at the time of the Passover. Passover means sacrifice. Blood. Atonement. Rescue. Remember John the Baptist’s words: Jesus is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. The sacrificial Lamb, the atoning sacrifice. And in the OT, there’s only one place to do that – the temple.


In the Old Testament, following the pattern of the Tabernacle, the temple was the place where God dwelled with his people. Where God made himself known to his people. Where God met his people and gave them his holiness. Where God forgives sin. Where God and man are reconciled.


The OT tabernacle and temple were the answer to the question – where do I go with my sin? After all, sin demands , requires a sacrifice, a payment, an atonement, a cleansing. God gave his answer in the form of the temple, the sacrifices, the blood. In God’s  you wanted forgiveness you went to the temple where God promised to forgive your sin and make atonement. But all of that – the tabernacle, the temple, the sacrifices, the oxen, sheep, and pigeons – they were all meant to point to the perfect sacrificial Lamb of God.


To Jesus.

Jesus drives out the sacrificial animals and the money changers for he is the new temple. He is the perfect sacrifice. In Jesus, the true and perfect Passover Lamb of God has come. And he makes atonement by a greater exchange, not of gold or silver coins, but of his holy, precious blood, and his innocent suffering and death.


Like God’s people in the Old Testament, our sin demands, requires a sacrifice. Payment. Atonement. Cleansing. Where will we find that? By our own hands? Certainly not. How can stained hands cleanse or purify anything? How can we stand before the Father when our hearts are so often consumed with zeal for wrongdoing and sin, with idolatry and misuse of God’s name? With nothing in our hands but our failure to honor authority, to care for our neighbor, to remain pure in heart and mind, to speak well of our neighbors’ reputation, to be content? God’s Law reveals our sin and a need for a a temple, for sacrifice – just as it did for Israel. Sins demand sacrifice, sacrifice demands a temple.


So, where do we go with our sin? Not to the temple in Jerusalem, but to the one whom the temple in Jerusalem pointed to. The one who fulfilled and accomplished everything that temple stood for. The one who stands in God’s presence with clean, purified, and pierced hands for you. The one who cleansed the temple and who cleanses you, casting aside anything and everything that comes between you and his promises.


You go where Christ is, where His Word is, where the Supper of His Body and Blood is. You go to the body of Christ. That is His temple.


Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up, Jesus said. The Jews wanted a sign. That was the sign. His death and resurrection. His sacrifice for sin and his rising again to new life. Jesus is the sign.


The stunning climax of this account is the revelation that the sacred temple of Jerusalem has been eclipsed and made obsolete. Jesus has come. Jesus is the temple. Jesus is the place where God and man are reconciled. Jesus is the place where one goes to meet God. Jesus is the place where God makes himself known to his people. The temple is irrelevant. Jesus is the only temple anyone needs. When Rome destroyed Herod’s temple in 70 AD, it was of little consequence to the community of believers—Rome had already destroyed the Temple decades before…but as predicted he rose, and he lives.


And in Jesus, you live. From the new and greater temple of his crucified and risen body, God’s holiness now extends to all nations, to all people, to you.


In Jesus you are reconciled to the Father. Holy in God’s sight. Forgiven. Redeemed. Jesus is your payment for sins. Your atonement. Your new temple. In Jesus you hear the Scriptures – as the disciples did after Jesus’ resurrection – and believe the word he speaks to you. In Jesus, you receive the true Passover meal of Jesus’ holy body and blood. In Jesus, the temple of God in human flesh, simple water and words are given to cleanse and purify you that you, in His saving name, become a temple of the Holy Spirit.


Jesus’ disciples didn’t understand this until after Jesus had risen from the dead, after the temple of His body had been destroyed and in three days He raised it up again. Your body too is a temple, a dwelling place of the Holy Spirit. It too will be destroyed in death. And like the body of Jesus, He will raise you too, as He Himself rose. The Sin and Death destroy this body of yours, nevertheless Jesus will raise it up again. Not in three days, but on the Day of His appearing.


In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.


Beautiful Savior

is a traditional Lutheran Church, faithful to God's Word and His Sacraments. We equip God's people to serve, love, and encourage one another as we grow in our personal relationship with Christ. We reach out to the community as beacons of light, sharing the love of God in Christ Jesus, our Savior.

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2306 Milton Way
Milton, WA 98354
(253) 922-6977
(253) 922-6977