Third Sunday of Lent – Sermon 251

Third Sunday of Lent

‘Morning Communion – CW

10.00 a.m.

8th March 2015

 

Bible References :

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Prayer to Start

 

May the words of my lips and the thoughts of our hearts be graciously received for the Glory and Honour of our Lord Jesus Christ

 

AMEN

 

INTRODUCTION

 

A farmer planned to go to France for his holidays – and because he would be taking his car – he decided to get some practice in –

 

He started to drive on the right hand side of the road – to go round roundabouts – in the anti-clockwise direction –

 

To say the least – he caused all sorts of trouble – and had one or two near accidents –

 

He was finally stopped by the police – and charged with dangerous driving

 

He had clearly been very foolish – and broken dozens of rules in the Highwaycode – which had affected the well-being and safety of others –

 

Point 1        10 commandments

 

We all need rules to protect us and help us get the best out of life –

 

In our OT reading from Exodus – we have our ‘10 words’ – [to give them their Hebrew name] – from God – on how he wants us to live –

 

To put God first – and not to bring His name in vain –

 

What to do and what not to do with regarding our relationship with God and with others –

 

These ’10 words’ have a unique status in Exodus – because they were spoken by God to the people at Mount Sinai –

 

 

They represent God’s mission statement to us – for our lives and our well being  – under His care –

 

In the years to follow the people – interpreted them as laws – but they weren’t precise enough for that

 

For example – ‘You shall not murder’ – is too specific – Jesus later widened it to its more correct meaning – of not to hate anyone –

 

Today – we too tend to reduce the God’s demands to a minimum – interpreting what God wants for us  – has always been difficult for us – but as Paul reminds us – in our second reading – God’s ways are far wiser than anything we can ever produce by ourselves –

 

Point 2:   God’s way is wise

 

The Christian Good news, says Paul, is all about God dying – on a rubbish heap – at the wrong end of town –

 

Paul tells us that in order for us all to fully understand – what God intends for us – God had to send His only Son to be brought up as a member of a despised race – and let Him be executed as a criminal – by the very people He was sent to save-

 

The Jews of the time – were expecting a Saviour who would free them – from the power of the Romans – not a Messiah who would be executed by them.

 

It is shocking – to the ear that God would have to take such a course to convince us of His love –

 

God’s route to salvation – is the craziest– that anyone could think of – but it was the only one that God knew – would succeed

 

God is confronting a world of posturing – power and prestige – and is determined to overthrow it – and to plant His Kingdom – of love – truth – and humility in us –

 

A Kingdom that welcomes the weak and the foolish as well as the strong and the wise –

 

Our way to salvation has come – but it is not through any route that the world might invent – it is through the way of a man who was dead – but whom God has brought back to life.

 

God’s way demands the death and emptying of our inner selves so that His kingdom can live in us – so He can replace our tarnished thoughts and lives with His –

 

Through God’s Son dying and living in us – human hearts change – situations change –  communities change –

 

People who grasp this message and believe it is true – fall in love with the God – they find themselves to be alive in Jesus –and give Him their supreme loyalty and commitment.

 

Point 3        Jesus is the new Temple

 

Actions and words designed to shock – are also in our Gospel reading –

 

Jesus saw that the moneychangers – were using their privileged position to make unfair demands on the people in the temple and effectively robbing them in the name of God –

 

He had to show that what they were doing was not right – and needed to be changed –

 

John puts our Gospel reading early in Jesus’ ministry – unlike the other Gospels who place it close to His crucifixion –

 

It’s the Passover festival – where thousands of Jews make a pilgrimage to Jerusalem – to celebrate their deliverance from Egypt – and their birth as a nation – [by law every adult male within 15 miles had to come – at great personal cost  – to offer a sacrifice in the great temple –]

 

– and in the middle of the festival was a rigged business operation – controlled by the high priests

 

– the people had to pay a yearly tax – in Jewish coins – obtained from the money changers  – and buy a sheep,  Ox or pigeon for sacrifice  –  from the temple herds –

 

-and all this selling and money changing  – was taking place in the outer court of the temple – where the Gentiles worshipped – not surprisingly the temple coffers were full -and overflowing –

 

But Jesus drove the market sellers out of the Temple and upset the tables of the moneychangers – fulfilling the prophecy of Malachi (3:2-3)

 

It was certain that such an act would produce an immediate reaction from those who saw it

 

from the Disciples –  came the words of Psalm 69 v 9  –  “Zeal for your house will consume me ”

 

from the Jews there was a demand for a sign –

 

what Jesus had done was something new – and unusual – something a prophet sent by God might do – but they still wanted Him to perform a miracle to confirm it

 

“Destroy this temple” Jesus replied “and in three days I will raise it up” –

 

This of course was a double meaning –

 

The Jews thought Jesus was referring to the literal temple – the building – but Jesus was talking about Himself – after His death  – when He – will replace the Temple as the place where man finds God –

 

the cleansing of the Temple was a dramatic way of showing that the lavish Temple – and its man made rituals – and sacrifices were all irrelevant – and do nothing to lead people to God – only God Himself can do that

 

Ending

 

Jesus told many stories about the wise and foolish: [The parable of the wise and the foolish builders; the Parable of the wise and foolish bridesmaids;] –

Each with its message about the importance of the Kingdom, – being prepared for it and being part of it

 

Through our own wisdom we cannot know God – He has made it that way.  – But through Jesus we dwell in His love and service

 

Our God wants faithfulness – righteousness and justice – and needs to see it in us – and to know that our love and commitment to Him comes from the heart –

 

There will be many foolish things we will do in our lifetime – let’s make sure that missing out on Jesus is not one of them.  – Amen