Reframing Passion | John 2:13-23
Topic: Gospel Passage: John 2:12–2:23
Christopher Rich – October 7, 2018
Reframing Passion |John 2:13-23
Introduction | Passion is good
Good morning--welcome to Damascus Road where we are Saved by Jesus Work, Changed by Jesus’ Grace, and Living on Jesus’s Mission. Today we are continuing our series REFRAMING JESUS: Portraits of Glory from John’s Gospel. In Reframing Jesus, our desire isn’t to reinvent Jesus into someone He is not or make Jesus into an image we are more comfortable with. Instead, we seek to have our portrait of Jesus reframed by John’s Gospel to see Him as accurately and glorious as possible.
What do you think of when you think of when you consider passion, zeal, ambition, desire? How do you respond to passion and zeal in others? We can struggle with this. Sometimes we are attracted to or inspired by zeal and passion when we see it in a way that aligns with our motives, how we’re already wired, or team/allegiance we claim. Wow they’re bold, go team! Conversely, if it’s passion that is opposed or directed is ways that we are don’t align with we’re easily turned off by it or can easily reject it. Example, Former Seahawk Richard Sherman. He’s on your team and bold passionate, picking off Tom Brady and beating them at NE at home you love “you mad bro?” If you’re a Patriots fan you didn’t like it. It matters where the passion is coming from and what it’s directed to. We have to ask ourselves is this passion creating more intense fear or is this passion driving us to places of greater peace and flourishing?
If you’re zealous about being a terrorist then I am not for you, but if your passionate about creating craft coffee then I am for you. Passion can stir conflict (not always bad as we’ll see) and passion can create greater good (as will also see). In the northwest we’re pretty mellow people who are passive aggressive, so sometimes we’re turned off by passion entirely and see zeal as something to be restrained or avoided. We can to easily mistake apathy and complacency for a content and temperate personality. Apathy is not part of the character and nature of God, God is zealous and passionate for His glory and our joy. So we need to have our understanding of passion reframed and redirected to align ourselves with God’s passion. In John 2:13-25 we will be Reframing Passion seeing what Jesus is passionate about and zeal Jesus has and why, how He produces what He’s passionate about, and what He hopes His passion produces in us. Jesus is passionate about Peaceful Presence, about Deconstruction/Reconstruction, and Authentic Disciples.
PART I | Reframing Peaceful Presence | v13-17
John 2:13-17 | 13 The Passover of the Jews was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. 14 In the temple he found those who were selling oxen and sheep and pigeons, and the money-changers sitting there. 15 And making a whip of cords, he drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and oxen. And he poured out the coins of the money-changers and overturned their tables. 16 And he told those who sold the pigeons, “Take these things away; do not make my Father's house a house of trade.” 17 His disciples remembered that it was written, “Zeal for your house will consume me.”
We have to understand the context otherwise we use this text as an excuse to be angry all the time or simply dismiss it as “this is what Jesus does” and remain apathic when we’re called to a positive passion.
Passover Remembers God’s Passion for His people – This festival commemorates when Israel, God’s people, was under slavery from the oppressive Egyptians and they cried out for deliverance. God heard their cry and His answer was to powerfully and passionately intervene upsetting the status quo. He sent many plagues to Egypt but the final was the Angel of Death coming to kill the first born of each Egyptian family. The Angel “Passed over” the homes of God’s people who had spread blood of a sacrificial lamb over the door of their homes. It was an act of faith and obedience in the face of a mighty God who was acting to save His people. It led to Israel’s release from slavery. It is a celebration a God who is mighty, who prescribes pure worship, and who saves His people from slavery, and moves them to a promised land of peace and prosperity where “I will be their God and they will be my people.” Feasting, sacrifice, remembering God’s goodness, and communion with God and His people are what Jesus, with His disciples, has expected to participate in. What he finds is another matter that leads to passionate action for peace.
What are they doing?Selling Oxen, Sheep, Birds for the purpose of participating in the sacrifices given during this temple festival. Because there are people coming from all over there is a convenience for them to not have to haul their animals all the way to Jerusalem. Money Changers- Also a service there was money from all over the Roman empire but the temple tax (Half Shekel) was to be paid with a special Tyrian coin because of it’s high silver content it was trustworthy, there is a bit of interest being charged.
It is not an inherently bad business (if the money changers were charging payday loan level interest its) but the location of it is. This was actually normal activity they just used to set up farther away just outside of town in the Kidron Valley. Now they’re IN The temple. A place reserved for communion with God not commerce. Growing up when had the MLM Guy at church who constantly in the foyer talking about his next deal… It’s not bad to do that but it becomes a distraction. Jesus see what is happening, Jesus passion leads to intentional action, he makes a whip of cords and drives out the animals with their owners following, flips over the tables of the money changers, and tells pigeon salesmen to flip their birds elsewhere. He zealously drives all of this activity out of the temple. What do we make of this? This is actively angry Jesus! We like Party Jesus but not temple table breaking Jesus, Too bad They’re the same! Jesus bring Joy and Jesus bring Justice. Jesus brings a party, Jesus brings purity.
Jesus is passionate about Peaceful Presence with God and People. When have you ever had peace in a mall or communion with the Creator at an airport. They have taken a place that is meant for peace and quiet communion with God and make it a cacophony of commerce. It’s supposed to be a bit of a sanctuary from normal rhythms of life and its turned into Costco before a three-day weekend or a casino all of the time. There are sounds and smells of animals, clanging of coins like a slot machine. Jesus enters a world made to bring Him glory and worship and He sees pure worship has been replaced by perversion of worship. Market time is great, prepping for celebration is good, but this isn’t market time. Work all week is great, but this isn’t work time. This was set apart time to disconnect from the ordinary rhythms and activity of live and remember what God has done to secure salvation and move us to peace. There should be prayer, contrition, contemplation, there isn’t the time, space or place for it. Jesus is passionate against what distracts and detracts from worship and peace. He takes peaceful presence so seriously to see it defiled He has a righteous passion for purity the same way a guy walking into his home would be upset if he saw his wife with another man. What is getting in the way of Jesus peaceful presence in your life? What needs to be driven out of your time of communion with God? What do you need Jesus to drive out of your soul?
Jesus is passionate about removing manmade barriers for people who are far from God to experience His peaceful presence. It is significant to know not only that this was all happening in the temple, but where in the temple. This is all occurring in the court of the gentles (those outside of the Jewish family) It was segregated place that was the farthest from the holy of holies (God’s presence) while still being considered in the temple. This was as close as an outsider could get to worship but it was father than the insiders. This fact there was a huge wall between this court and the court of the Jewish women and men. Ephesians 2 refers to it as a wall of hostility for good reason. On that wall a marking as found that read in part “No foreigner is to enter within the court…Whoever is caught will have himself to blame for his subsequent death.” No mug for gentile guest, because they were considered separated and estranged from the family of God. You need to know that unless you’re ethnically Jewish, it would apply to all of us.
Jesus is righteously angry that His Father’s House, a place for God to dwell with His people, for those who desire to know Him to experience worship and peaceful presence has been turned into a place made impossible to enjoy communion with God. Jesus shouldn’t have had to be the one to do this, certainly the temple authorities would have resisted the shops being set up or restricted/removed this activity long ago, certainly the members would have raise an uproar that their worship was being impaired. The people didn’t have a revolt about it because it really didn’t impact the “insiders”, in only impacted “outsiders” who desired to be in the presence of God. They’re on the other side of that big wall, they didn’t hear all this, they didn’t smell all of this, they had to navigate through all of it and then make their way to a reserved exclusive place of peace and “thank God I’m not a foreigner/gentile”. These insiders valued their convenience more than the communion of outsiders they saw as less valuable. In Jesus clearing out the commerce from the court of the gentiles He’s restoring access to peaceful presence for those who already feel far from God. If you consider yourself an “insider” with God where have you been willing to be comfortable at the expense of valuing your communion at the expense of creating artificial barriers that distract or detract for those who already feel distant from seeing, hearing, knowing the passionate presence of the God who made them? Where do we need less passion for ourselves more humility for the purpose of being more passionate about those who are far from God? The truth is in the Gospel because we’re all sinners, we recognize we are money changers who have set up shop in our own hearts and make all worship about our personal gain rather than directed to God and His glory. If we experience peace with God in Jesus, it’s because He’s invaded our hearts uninvited and went to work cleaning us out, usually despite ourselves, to restore us to our original purpose of peaceful worship of God with His people. How could we have pride? So we preach the Gospel of Jesus, not put up barriers or boundaries God hasn’t.
Jesus is passionate about a restored relationship with God based on mercy and grace. “Don’t turn my Father’s house, into a place of trade.” Don’t make the focus of a peaceful relationship with God transactional. I’ve sinned I owe God. I’ve now given God this costly sacrifice, we’re square or maybe God now owes me forgiveness and life. This is religion, not the Gospel. We cannot give God enough for Him to either pay for our sin or for Him to owe us restoration. However, in the Gospel, life with God in Jesus is one where He is the costly sacrifice in our place. The only transaction we can effectively participate in is one where we give Jesus all our sin and shame and He gives us all His righteousness and status. We can’t have an apathetic Jesus. Taking our sin on himself requires a Jesus that is passionate for holiness, justice, mercy, and grace.
Jesus is passionate a about the Household of God centered on God’s glory uniting people from every tribe tongue and nation around right worship of God. Jesus is consumed by zeal so much for His Father’s house He allows himself to be consumed by the Cross. This is what Jesus is doing in the Gospel creating a new household of God, a family not defined by their bloodline or race but who are adopted into a new family.
Jesus is willing to disrupt the status quo for the purpose of making things better than if He didn’t engage. This type of passion can be more easily received if you can see that you’re the one benefiting from it. It seems like many people “get” what Jesus is doing and they don’t actively oppose it. There is apparently not open resistance to what Jesus is doing because if there had been the Romans would have come in quickly reestablish order. People were probably relieved. Like when you’re running a chainsaw and it finally turns off and you remember…. Oh yeah that’s what quiet is like. That is much more peaceful.
PART II | Reframing Deconstruction and Reconstruction | v18-22
John 2:18-22 | 18 So the Jews said to him, “What sign do you show us for doing these things?” 19 Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” 20 The Jews then said, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and will you raise it up in three days?”21 But he was speaking about the temple of his body. 22 When therefore 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.
Not everyone is excited about the passion and zeal of Jesus. Jesus’ passion was completely misinterpreted. The officials questioning Jesus are more concerned with authority and precedent than for justice. They want to see a sign. But Jesus doesn’t perform on demand. God is not domesticated to respond to our demands. He’s not a Genie in a bottle you rub the right way. He doesn’t perform tricks, so people will stick with him because he’s not interested in the type of allegiance that would come from it. They want a sign, he’s already given them one. He’s brought peace and purity to a place of worship, this should have clued them off. The very act of Jesus cleansing the temple should have brought to mind the words of the prophets. They should have welcomed this as what had been promised in the Lord’s arrival. Zech 14:21b | And there should no longer be a trader in the house of the Lord of Host on that day.
They overestimate the effectiveness of what they have built to bring themselves into a place of peace. The religious leaders are so passionate for what they have done and accomplished they cannot see the beauty and goodness of what Jesus has done. They don’t see the improvement. What could be passion for great accomplishment is actually being too easily satisfied. Jesus tells them if want a sign you’re going to get a world changing one. “Destroy this temple and I’ll raise it up in three days.” They still can’t see it because they’re so focused on what they’ve built to bring themselves closer to God. This is passionate pride. When we visited Bend we heard someone say “Our life is better than, your vacation.” It’s a great city but my worry is when the new city of God comes they’ll say “No we’re good, we’ll stay #InBend.”
Rather than receive the actions that bring peace they reject His authority and presence. While the authority of Jesus is challenged by the Jewish leaders, the whole system is challenged by Jesus who is going to do far more than clean the temple, He’s going to replace the temple with something greater.
Jesus is passionate about deconstructing worship that is less than effective in bringing true peace. Deconstruction is really popular now especially in people who have grown up or engaged with the church. There are always good questions to be asked and assumptions to be challenged. However, too often deconstruction is followed by disillusion or desolation if it’s not replaced with some true, pure, and good. Deconstruction is necessary if it is going to be followed by reconstruction of something greater. What have you built your life on with great confidence to bring you peace/security that needs to be torn down by Jesus?
Jesus is passionate about building a people centered on His death and resurrection. Temple is replaced by Jesus. Just as the wedding feast pointed to a great feast, this temple point to a greater temple of God with His people. The temple is a symbol of the intersection of heaven and earth. Jesus is the temple. Jesus is the intersection of heaven and earth. To be reconciled to God to worship God, we don’t go to a place, we go to a person. The person is Jesus. Jesus is the word of God become flesh. So the presence of Jesus is the presence of God himself. Jesus is the focal point of our communion with God. Jesus is the center of worship. Jesus body is the temple where the greatest sacrifice will be made. His blood shed for us for our sin. Jesus destroyed temple. Three days later dead, buried Jesus, is now risen (rebuilt temple) Jesus. Restoration of communion is tied to Resurrection. The resurrection is the lenses we look at God and the world through.
The Resurrection is necessary. Jesus is passionate about being the sacrifice for sin. (Zeal consumed Him by the Cross) AND Jesus is passionate about conquering death for the purpose of restoring life. Belief in Jesus comes from the resurrection of Jesus. It’s what dives the disciple’s belief. If you want to follow Jesus, pledge allegiance to Jesus, listen and apply the teaching of Jesus, let be because of the resurrection of Jesus.
Because Jesus is the temple it means this place is not the temple. We don’t go to church to communion with God, we are the church in communion with God and we gather together as an expression of the Household of God Jesus is passionately for. He is your place of peace, He is the one who sacrifices for you, the one who deals with your sin and shame, the one who takes outsiders and makes them insiders. What is your functional center of worship that needs to be reoriented to Jesus as your temple of worship?
PART III| Reframing Passionate Followers | v23-25
John 2:23-25 | 23 Now when he was in Jerusalem at the Passover Feast, many believed in his name when they saw the signs that he was doing. 24 But Jesus on his part did not entrust himself to them, because he knew all people 25 and needed no one to bear witness about man, for he himself knew what was in man.
You can be a fan of Jesus and not a follower. But don’t be. Some believe because of the signs Jesus was doing, rather than who Jesus is. They like the idea of Social Justice Warrior/Antifa Jesus that upsets the status quo who is revolutionary to established power structures. Jesus knows they don’t love sin hating, grace giving, life changing Jesus. He knows they don’t realize they He’s there not to remove authority and structure, but to replace/restore it with Himself as the ultimate authority.
Jesus knows hearts. He’s not impressed that they’re impressed. Because he knows why. People can get excited about the idea of Jesus without becoming new people who are committed to Jesus. There was a lack of authenticity in their devotion to Jesus. Let’s be really clear, you can fool others, you can fool yourself, but you cannot fool Jesus. He knows the condition of your heart. Jesus isn’t impressed by the worlds and attitudes of people who are only in it for themselves. Jesus isn’t flattered by that type of passion because He knows people…. Jesus knew that his passion (suffering) was not going to be averted because of his growing public acclaim. He knew the heart of man. These same fans will a couple of years later passionately chant “Crucify Him”. The intensity of their passion isn’t the question but the reason for their passion is.
Disciples of Jesus are authentically passionate about Jesus not just for what He can do. It’s exciting and humbling to see Jesus work in your life the life of others, and the world, but authentic passionate followers aren’t simply excited about the works of Jesus (which are overwhelming on their own) but they have a passionate allegiance to Jesus base on who He is. He is God, King of Kings and Lord of Lords. AND Because Jesus is passionately for His people. We remember in communion every week that the same passion that drove Jesus to cleanse the temple is the same passion the drove Jesus to the cross in your place. In moving us from a place of tension and distracted worship to a place of peace Jesus doesn’t whip us away from God’s presence but He takes the whipping we deserved for our sin so we can be with God.
Don’t follow Jesus for things you hope He’ll do for you, help you accomplish, or because you want Him to follow you agenda. Follow Jesus for what He’s already done for you, living the perfect life you haven’t, dying the death you deserve for sin, and rising again as the true temple where you can experience life with God and His people when you Trust Jesus.