Third Sunday of Lent – Sermon 251

9th January 2016 Off By Derek
  • Third Sunday of Lent
  • ‘Morning Communion – CW
  • 10.00 a.m.
  • 8th March 2015

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



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


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