Let us pray: Dear Savior, today we come to ask You to re-order our priorities. Take our gaze away from our stressful jobs, from play time which often turns into work time, from getting bogged down with the minutiae of this life. Instead, renew and re-energize us with quality worship, meaningful prayer time, and genuine fellowship with the saints—all of which uplift us. Lord, do this quickly as we all need it. Amen
GRACE MERCY AND PEACE ARE YOURS FROM CHRIST, WHO ALWAYS PUT THE PRIORITY OF YOUR SALVATION FIRST!
TEXT: John 2: 13-22
Dearly Beloved By Christ:
“Out of sight, out of mind.” We’ve all used that expression. We’ve all lived that expression. When something isn’t front and center, staring you in the face, it’s easy to forget about it or overlook it. Tax day is about a month off. How many of you will wait until the final week or day to get yours in? Doctor visits?—We usually go only after we’ve gotten sick or felt pain. Often we’ll do the “fun” stuff first—like going shopping for a new outfit, or seeing that new movie, or indulging in an ice cream treat—long before we’ll do our taxes, run the car in for an oil change, or clean out the garage. Your mother probably said: “It’s all about priorities.” And she’d be right.
As Christians, we confess that our faith in Jesus is the most important thing in our lives. Without Him in our corner guiding and strengthening us the job will be unrewarding, the children won’t bring lasting happiness to our hearts, and our health will become something to dread when any little pain comes along. And yet, yet, every one of us is guilty of neglecting our prayer life, of taking weekly worship for granted, of not pondering and applying Godly truth to our lives, and of not focusing on His comforting grace when troubles erupt. Today, on the basis of this text, I have a question for you:
IS GOD 1ST ON YOUR PRIORITY LIST?
Twice during Christ’s 3 year public ministry He cleansed the temple of the money-changers. He did it shortly before Holy Week—at the end of His ministry—and also just after He burst on the scene at the beginning of His service to sinners. John’s account here is of that 1st cleansing. Jesus is in Jerusalem for the Passover. He goes into the temple courts to honor His heavenly Father by praying and teaching lost souls the way to eternal salvation. While there, this is what occurs: “In the temple courts he found men selling cattle, sheep and doves, and others sitting at tables exchanging money. So he made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the temple area, both sheep and cattle; he scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. To those who sold doves he said, ‘Get these out of here! How dare you turn my Father’s house into a market!’”
To properly grasp this lesson you need a little background. Pilgrims from around the Roman empire came to Jerusalem for the Passover. For most it was a once-in-a-lifetime pilgrimage. While there they were expected to offer an animal sacrifice and to pay the temple tax in the local currency. Since bringing animal offerings 100’s of miles was problematic and since they needed a local currency exchange station, the religious mafia in control of the temple—Annas and Caiaphas his son-in-law—set up these booths on site. In theory they were doing everyone a favor and a service. In reality, they set exorbitant prices, played the exchange rates, and cheated everyone from South Podunk, Egypt to Never Heard of It, France. It is this stealing and greed that Christ is reacting to. And react strongly He does! It must have been a comical picture—animals running, money flying in all directions, people screaming, and tables being up-ended. Christ cleansed the temple because those in charge had little or no reverence for what the temple stood for. They had no reverence for God. They could care less about worship, teaching, and prayer aside from encouraging people to do through the motions and keep the money rolling in. But Jesus isn’t a mere “go-through-the-motions Savior” and God isn’t honored by mere “go through the motions” external behavior. Christ and His Father expect and demand the heart. They demand to be 1st on our priority list. The disciples remembered an OT prophecy concerning the Messiah: “Zeal for your house will consume me.” That encapsulates it. Christ was zealous when it came to respecting God, His house, and worship of Him. He was zealous in saving us, too. You can say that He put us first on His priority list—dying for us on the cross. Your soul was worth it to Him. And as a result, all people need to self-examine themselves and ask: “Is He worth it to me?”
Every group of people—especially when the topic turns to religion—has the snickering crowd, the questioning crowd, and also includes the naysayers who try to get in the final word. So, too, this group. “Then the Jews demanded of him, ‘What miraculous sign can you show us to prove your authority to do this?’ Jesus answered them, ‘Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days.’ The Jews replied, ‘It has taken 46 years to build this temple, and you are going to raise it in three days?’ But the temple he had spoken of was his body. After he was raised from the dead, his disciples recalled what he had said. Then they believed the Scripture and the words that Jesus had spoken.”
“Out of sight, out of mind.” Here unbelief reverses that to: “Out of mind, out of sight.” God is a Spiritual Being. He is spiritual Truth. True worship of Him is all about the human heart focusing on and grasping spiritual truths and then applying them into this physical world. The money-changers were doing the opposite. Most people do the opposite. We humans naturally make the world we see and experience via our senses into the be-all and end-all of human existence and then throw Godly worship into the equation as an afterthought. We often overlook the fact that only when we worship in spirit and in truth, only then does this physical life unfold into a beautiful flower. Only then does daily life take on eternal meaning. Only then are we truly able to cope with evil and trouble. The earthly temples of God are all poor facsimiles of the genuine article—the incarnate Son of God Who laid down His life for us, took it back after three days in the grave, and as the Bible says “In Whom we live, move, and have our very being.”
So, we arrive back at our original question: Is God 1st on Your Priority List? Does the Spirit-wrought faith in your heart control your actions and override your innate laziness when it comes to honoring God Almighty? The honest answer to that question is: not often enough! But, don’t despair. The disciples were a bit slow on the uptake, too. But, Jesus kept loving them and forgiving them and instructing them, and eventually they got it. So, keep feeding your faith and work at cleaning out your ears and your heart and then by His grace, you and I will get it, too! Amen