Jesus had just recently begun His earthly ministry. John the Baptist testified that Jesus was “the Word made flesh… the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.” (John 1) Jesus called His first disciples (Andrew, Peter, Philip and Nathanael) and performed His first miracle by changing water into wine at the wedding in Cana of Galilee (John 2). Soon afterward He went to Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover, the remembrance of how God mercifully spared the life of all the firstborn of the Israelites who believed in God and who sacrificed a perfect, year-old lamb, painting its blood on the doorposts of their homes so that the Angel of Death would pass over their homes and graciously spare their lives. (Exodus 11 and 12)
When Jesus arrived at the temple, “He found men selling cattle, sheep and doves, and others sitting at tables exchanging money. So He made a whip 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.” (John 2: 14-15)
He not only upset their tables – He also upset their commerce, their businesses and their whole system of sacrifice! They, defiantly, questioned, “What miraculous sign can You show us to prove Your authority to do all this?” (John 2: 18) He responded in a way that no one understood at the time (until after His resurrection from the dead). “Jesus answered them, ‘Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days.’” (John 2: 19) He was speaking about the “temple of His own body” – they would falsely accuse, torture and kill Him. Then in three days, by His own power and authority, He would rise from the dead for the forgiveness of the sins of all people, of all time, everywhere! In the days to follow (and throughout the rest of the days of His earthly ministry), He showed His divine power and God’s love by healing, forgiving and raising the dead. “While He was is Jerusalem at the Passover Feast, many people saw the miraculous signs He was doing and believed in His name.” (John 2: 23)
As John said of Him, He IS the Light of the World; He is the Lamb of God Whose Perfect Sacrifice takes away the sins of the World – including yours and mine!
Lent takes us to the cross, where Jesus made the final, ultimate sacrifice, laying down His life to redeem the world. The organized system of animal sacrifice would come to an end; Jesus was clearing the temple for His sacrifice, the fulfillment of the old system.
Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross drives out from our hearts and lives all the sin that bogs us down and keeps us from living in ways that honor and uphold the commandments of God. Part of Jesus’ ministry is to clean house; it is the sin that still clings to our hearts that He wants to forcefully cast out. We desperately need this, and He freely fulfills our greatest need through the Means of Grace.
Through His Perfect Sacrifice, the Victorious Lamb of God gives us forgiveness, life, freedom and JOY!
See you in church this weekend and this Wednesday, March 18 at 9:30 a.m. or 7:00 p.m.!
Blessings in Christ,