Because Jesus Makes a Way for Pure Worship

Josh Greiner February 21, 2021 John 2:13–25
Outline

3 ways to cultivate genuine/pure worship

I. Understand That Worshipping God Requires Purity (vv.13-17)

A. The context of Passover in Jerusalem (v.13)

John 2:13 - The Passover of the Jews was near, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem.

B. Jesus’ anger in the temple points us to the priority of pure worship (vv.14-16)

John 2:14-16 - And He found in the temple those who were selling oxen and sheep and doves, and the money changers seated at their tables. And He made a scourge of cords, and drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and the oxen; and He poured out the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables; and to those who were selling the doves He said, “Take these things away; stop making My Father’s house a place of business.”

Zechariah 14:21 - Every cooking pot in Jerusalem and in Judah will be holy to the Lord of hosts; and all who sacrifice will come and take of them and boil in them. And there will no longer be a Canaanite in the house of the Lord of hosts in that day.

C. The Old Testament emphasized and anticipated a future purification by the Messiah (v.17)

John 2:17 - His disciples remembered that it was written, “Zeal for Your house will consume me.”

Psalm 69:9a - For zeal for Your house has consumed me…

II. Embrace Jesus as the True Temple for Pure Worship (vv.18-22)

John 1:14 - And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.

A. The Jews missed what the physical temple pointed to (v.18)

John 2:18 - The Jews then said to Him, “What sign do You show us as your authority for doing these things?”

B. Jesus shows us that His death and resurrection is ultimately what we need for full access to worship God (vv.19-22)

John 2:19-22 - Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” The Jews then said, “It took forty-six years to build this temple, and will You raise it up in three days?” But He was speaking of the temple of His body. So when He was raised from the dead, His disciples remembered that He said this; and they believed the Scripture and the word which Jesus had spoken.

Colossians 1:19 - For it was the Father’s good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him.

John 1:29 - Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!

III. Evaluate the Nature of Your Faith (vv.23-25)

A. Acknowledging miracles isn’t enough for saving faith (v.23)

John 2:23 - Now when He was in Jerusalem at the Passover, during the feast, many believed in His name, observing His signs which He was doing.

B. Jesus knows whether your faith is genuine or not (vv.24-25)

John 2:24-25 - But Jesus, on His part, was not entrusting Himself to them, for He knew all men, and because He did not need anyone to testify concerning man, for He Himself knew what was in man.

Our study in the gospel of John is aimed at helping us as a church family Enjoy Life in His Name.

The theme comes in part from the purpose of the gospel of John which, the apostle John tells us explicitly in…

John 20:30–31 (NASB95PARA)

30 Therefore many other signs Jesus also performed in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; 31 but these have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name.

It’s important to keep reminding ourselves, that every account that John gives us of Jesus is geared at helping us believe that he really is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing we may have life in His name.

Sometimes, some of what John writes can be challenging to interpret. But remembering that John includes it so that we might believe who Jesus is, is an important interpretive principle.

So for example, in chapter 1 John the Baptist’s identity is important, not because John the Baptist is so important, but because he is the prophesied forerunner of the Messiah. Therefore, the identify of John the Baptist gives credibility and evidence to Jesus being the Messiah.

Likewise, the story of Jesus turning the water to wine isn’t just a story that John haphazardly included. This was the first of the signs that Jesus did in Cana at Galilee, and it’s meant not simply to show us the miraculous power of Jesus, but also to point us to a key aspect of who Jesus is. Namely, he’s the Messiah who is able to abundantly supply joy and gladness far greater than any joy or gladness that came before!

That’s why the headwaiter’s comment is so significant when he says of the water Jesus turned into wine, “Every man serves the good wine first, and when the people have drunk freely, then he serves the poorer wine; but you have kept the good wine until now.”

That’s such incredibly sweet news for those of us who have trusted in Jesus as our Lord and Savior…because we know that the best is still to come!

Where we come to today, is not only a controversial passage, but it’s also mildly humorous that this passage falls on Valentine’s Day. The week before, we were studying about Jesus saving a wedding—that seems like a Valentine’s Day passage…this week we turn our attention to Jesus’ righteous anger and zeal displayed in cleansing the temple.

My wife asked me a couple weeks ago, what we should do on Valentine’s Day…I responded in the most romantic way I could think—I said, “Erika, that’s a Sunday and I’m preaching.” I’m sure that answered her question. After all, I’m sure that’s all she was hoping for on Valentine’s Day was to hear a sermon from her husband…

She responded pretty graciously and enthusiastically with, “Oh, what are you preaching on?” To which I responded, “The cleansing of the temple.”

Well, even though that is mildly humorous, the text before us today is very important. [oh and before we go any further this morning, there was a question that came up a week ago that said, “What should your spouse know about you?” I thought for a moment and told Erika, “You should know that I’m funny.” I figured if she knew that, our relationship would get remarkably better. So I think you all should also know, “I’m funny” and this preaching thing will go a lot better.]

Anyways, this is a very important text. For one, this passage is serving to help us believe that Jesus is the Son of God and that by believing we may have life in His name. The cleansing of the temple, and the anger of Jesus, is not something we have to skip over to Enjoy life in his name. Rather, this is an important part of enjoying life in his name.

Now, before we jump into the text there are a couple of comments I want to make about this passage and its placement early in the ministry of Jesus.

The synoptic gospels—Matthew, Mark and Luke report on a temple cleansing at the end of Christ’s ministry right before his death. The question is, are these the same event or are the different? In other words, are there one- or two-times Jesus cleanses the temple?

  • I’m not going to go into much of the argument, but a majority of scholars do not believe these are different. They believe that John has taken what the synoptic gospels have placed chronologically at the end of Jesus’ ministry and moved it to this point early in Christ’s ministry for thematic and theological reasons.
  • However, there are a number of problems with that view.
  • The first, is the clear chronological tightness in John with the wedding in Cana and then the Passover in Jerusalem. Therefore, if John was simply moving the story for thematic reasons, why would he make such tight chronological connections?
  • The second problem is the scholars that argue he moved it to its present position for theological and thematic reasons cannot give strong evidence for why moving makes any sense. They cannot agree with each other.
  • Therefore, we believe that the most straightforward and honest reading of the text is to believe that John gives us a cleansing of the temple that the synoptics do not talk about.
  • Further, evidence in favor of that would be, that the first 5 chapters of John’s gospel give us very early material in Jesus’ ministry that none of the synoptics touch on. Therefore, if this story was pulled from the synoptics it would be the only one that was in the first 5 chapters.

Now, maybe you’re thinking…why did I need to know that. Hopefully, you don’t necessarily need to know that. But in a culture that is growing more skeptical and hostile towards Christians, passages like the cleansing of the temple are often used as proof texts for why the Bible contradicts itself or why it makes no sense.

A second comment before we jump into the text is to remember that although Jesus’ anger and zeal might rub us the wrong way—and as we’ll see it rubbed the 1st century Jews the wrong way too—remember that John includes this to help us believe that Jesus really is the Son of God.

So, in this story we get a fulfillment of the words of Jesus to Nathanael at the end of chapter 1…

John 1:51 (NASB95PARA)

51 And He said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you will see the heavens opened and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.”

The point of what Jesus is saying there, is that the presence and power God is going to be evident on Jesus. This story of the temple cleansing, if we have eyes of faith, will be a story where we will behold the marvelous presence of God.

So with that in mind follow along as I read John 2:13–25.

….

With the time we have remaining we’re going to be considering how Enjoying Life in His Name comes Through Pure Worship.

And the good news is that Jesus makes a way for pure worship. So if pure worship is important for enjoying life in his name, then let’s dig into 3 ways to cultivate genuine/pure worship

Understand that worshipping God requires purity (vv.13–17)

The first way to cultivate pure worship, is to understand that worshipping God requires purity. It’s important that we understand that pure worship of God isn’t optional. If we’re going to enjoy life in His name then we must worship God with purity.

Before we get to the cleansing part of this, understanding some of the context of the Passover in Jerusalem will be very helpful for us really understanding what is going on.

The context of Passover in Jerusalem (v.13)

John 2:13 (NASB95PARA)

13 The Passover of the Jews was near, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem.

The text is very clear, that this cleansing happened at the time of the Passover feast.

If your new to church or not very familiar with the Bible, then you might not be familiar with where Passover comes from. And that’s quite alright. We’re glad that you’re coming and listening.

The Passover feast was instituted by God for the Israelites back when they were in slavery in Egypt before God miraculously freed them through the 10 plagues. The Passover specifically was on the night that God killed all the first-born sons of the Egyptians and passed over the first-born sons of the Israelites. The institution and instructions for the Passover are given in Exodus 12, so you can go back and read the whole chapter if you’re unfamiliar with it.

But the beginning of Exodus 12 makes it clear that the Passover was such an important event in Israel’s history that God ordained that their calendar would be forever changed.

Exodus 12:1–2 (NASB95PARA)

1 Now the Lord said to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, 2 “This month shall be the beginning of months for you; it is to be the first month of the year to you.

One commentator said of verse 2,

Here we read that God has decided that history determines the calendar, and in particular, the history of God’s saving act of the exodus does so. Whatever might theoretically have been their previous thinking about a calendar, God decreed to his Old Covenant people that they would henceforth have a calendar designed to remind them of how they first became a people—it happened by reason of their deliverance by his mighty hand out of the bondage of the oppressor, an act so important that it was also to be memorialized by a special annual feast, the Passover.[1]

What the Israelites were to do was to prepare a lamb—an unblemished lamb—for each household and with some of the blood they were to put it on the door posts and the lintel of their house and because of the blood of the lamb, God was going to pass over their house and spare their first born sons.

Exodus 12:11–13 summarize the first past over…

11 Now you shall eat it in this manner: with your loins girded, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand; and you shall eat it in haste—it is the Lord’s Passover. 12 ‘For I will go through the land of Egypt on that night, and will strike down all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgments—I am the Lord. 13 The blood shall be a sign for you on the houses where you live; and when I see the blood I will pass over you, and no plague will befall you to destroy you when I strike the land of Egypt.

And in the next verse God says they are to keep this feast forever as a memorial! So the point is, this is the most important feast for the Jews!

One commentator sets the scene that Jesus must have been walking into going to Jerusalem for the Passover.

“It was also almost Passover, and there was a spirit of expectancy across the land—probably very much like what we experience during the Christmas season. The Jewish tradition required an entire month for preparation. The roads were repaired, the bridges rebuilt or shored up, the sepulchers rewhitened. The entire land bustled with the spirit of Passover. Jerusalem, although not a big city by ordinary standards, would have as many as two and a quarter million people crowded into its confines at Passover…

We can surmise that as our Lord traveled south to Jerusalem, the roads became very congested. When he entered the gates of the city and approached the cream and gold of that great temple, the congestion became even worse, with sellers of trinkets and souvenirs on all sides. Some of that must have bothered our Lord, but not, I imagine, as much as what he saw at the temple…”[2]

Are you picturing the scene…are you picturing shoulder to shoulder kind of foot traffic like Times Square on New Year’s Eve? This is a time of celebration for the nation of Israel, and Jerusalem is jam packed with people.

Now, do you think every person, and every business that Jesus passed by on the way to the temple was perfectly pure and holy? The answer most certainly is no…but Jesus didn’t stop and do anything specifically about all the impurity and sin he must have passed on his way to the temple. Instead, he kept going to the temple…and when he gets into the temple, then Jesus gets angry.

Don’t miss that his anger in the temple—at that time, in that place—points us to the priority of pure worship.

Jesus’ anger in the temple points us to the priority of pure worship (vv.14–16)

John 2:14–16 (NASB95PARA)

14 And He found in the temple those who were selling oxen and sheep and doves, and the money changers seated at their tables. 15 And He made a scourge of cords, and drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and the oxen; and He poured out the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables; 16 and to those who were selling the doves He said, “Take these things away; stop making My Father’s house a place of business.”

The anger of Jesus in this scene has been so misunderstood. As I was studying this passage—as is often the case—this text become so much more powerful and meaningful to me. This text can help us know Jesus better, and by doing so, can help us grow more and more in pure worship of our Lord.

So let’s consider a couple questions:

First, why would there be people selling oxen, sheep and doves, and why would there be money changer’s in the temple?

Well, think about the context of the Passover. Why would the selling of sheep be a logical sale? At Passover, every single family was supposed to eat lamb chops! And if you have pets—drawing an analogy between pets and animals of sacrifice is very dangerous—but don’t lose me on this…if you have pets that you’ve traveled with, even with crates and Benadryl and a nice big space in the back of your vehicle, it can still be a real hassle to travel with them!

Now just imagine that you’re a first century Jew…no car…traveling by foot to Jerusalem with your whole family. That’s going to be hard enough to travel with all the kids who are constantly asking for snacks and there is no convenience storers in the 1st century so you have to pack all that food. It would make sense that traveling with your Passover Lamb might be a little too much. So, instead of traveling with your sacrifice you can just bring money to buy it when you get to Jerusalem.

And Josephus, one of, if not the most important 1st century historians records that for one such Passover like this one, “found the number of sacrifices was two hundred and fifty-six thousand five hundred”[3]. My point in quoting that is to show, that there would have been a huge need for providing lambs. Doves, and oxen were part of other sacrifices that Jews would have been engaged in for proper worship.

So the service that they are providing to the worshipers traveling from other cities was a helpful and convenient service.

The money changers would have been exchanging people’s currency into the currency that the temple tax had to be paid in. So again, that was a necessary service for people traveling in with currency that wasn’t allowed to be paid for that tax.

A second key question has to do with where they would have been set-up for selling and money changing? [INCLUDE THE PICTURE of HEROD’s TEMPLE]

There doesn’t seem to be any real debate over this question, but I think it’s very important to our interpretation. They would have been set-up in the court of the gentiles. The big open spaces inside the large walls would have been where Gentiles were allowed to be. This most certainly would have been filled with the hustle and bustle of commerce, and the noise of oxen, and sheep and doves. So rather than a place for Gentiles to come worship God, it was a bustling marketplace for Jews to get their sacrifices. That probably is also a huge indication of why Jesus was so angry…

A third question is debated, were the sellers and the money changers taking advantage of worshippers by charging way too much?

Many scholars are going to argue there was corruption and significant price gouging. However, DA Carson commented on that question saying,

“There is no evidence that the animal merchants and p 179 money-changers or the priestly authorities who allowed them to use the outer court were corrupt companions in graft. Jesus’ complaint is not that they are guilty of sharp business practices and should therefore reform their ethical life, but that they should not be in the temple area at all.”[4]

And I think Jesus’ words point to Carson’s very point…Jesus says, “stop making my Father’s House into a house of trade.” He doesn’t say, “Stop gouging people” or “Stop cheating people.” His issue is that the temple has been turned into a place of business.

There might be an allusion to Zechariah 14:21 which says,

Zechariah 14:21 (NASB95PARA)

21 Every cooking pot in Jerusalem and in Judah will be holy to the Lord of hosts; and all who sacrifice will come and take of them and boil in them. And there will no longer be a Canaanite (or trader) in the house of the Lord of hosts in that day.

The word Canaanite that shows up in the NASB also can mean trader/merchant. The ESV and NIV have translated it that way. The context is really what tells you whether it means Caananite or trader.. There is a place in Proverbs where the meaning is clearly merchant or trader. So this passage might have been in Jesus’ mind when he saw what was going on in the temple.

Now, I think the 3 questions of why were they selling, where were they selling and was the issue price gouging, help us really understand Jesus’ anger.

Our Savior’s anger was not the result of just a bad dad…he wasn’t just irritable because he’s not really and animal lover and couldn’t handle all the noise…it’s not that he was tired and hangry from the trip to Jerusalem.

Christ’s anger had to do with the fact that the temple is the physical representation of the special presence of God where people were to go with the express focus on pure worship! God’s glory and his name was the whole point of the temple.

But the fact that over the years it had become normal to crowd out any opportunity for the Gentiles to come and worship with their convenient commerce shows that the Jews were not all that concerned about focus on God and worshipping him purely.

A huge part of the purpose of Israel was that they were to purely and passionately worship God and by doing so they were to draw the rest of the nations—the Gentiles into pure and passionate worship of God as well! But what happened in the OT, is what is happening right before the eyes of Jesus…

The physical temple had become a superstitious, nationalistic symbol of God’s blessing on Israel despite whether or not they obeyed or not…despite pure worship or not.

Jesus’ anger and cleansing of the temple makes it very clear, pure worship is demanded for God’s blessing.

A clear application from this passage is that Jesus didn’t cleanse any business, or any political institutions. He didn’t go to the Roman Prefect and cleanse that…he went to the temple!

Friends, I get that there is a lot of wickedness and tom foolery going on in our country, but I really don’t believe that Jesus would be cleansing the white house, or the court house, or Google or Facebook or whoever else you think needs to be cleansed if Jesus came to America today…where we need cleansing is for those of us who claim to follow God and worship God. We need to make sure that we are prioritizing pure worship of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ above everything.

The OT emphasized and anticipated a future purification by the Messiah (v.17)

Now, it’s important to know that pure worship was a big deal back in the OT as well. This is not a new idea. And in fact, the OT emphasized and anticipated a future purification by the Messiah.

That’s the point the OT quotation in John 2:17.

John 2:17 (NASB95PARA)

17 His disciples remembered that it was written, “Zeal for Your house will consume me.”

The quotation is very interesting though for many reasons. But the main reason it is so fascinating is that if you read the OT you’ll notice there is one small difference. Instead of a future tense like we have in John 2:17, “Zeal for your house will consume me”, we have…

Psalm 69:9a (NASB95PARA)

9 For zeal for Your house has consumed me…

The quotation that John uses actually follows the LXX translation, which was the Greek translation of the OT. And you ask, well why would the LXX change it to a future tense? Psalm 69 was written by King David and he was writing about his own experience…so why change it to a future tense?

The reason would have been because the Jews were expecting a future King like David…a greater David…they were expecting a Messiah to come, and part of the expectation of the coming Messiah and the greater David was a zeal for God’s house!

That’s why his disciples remember this text and connect the dots. Now, it’s not entirely clear whether the disciples remember this at the time of the cleansing, or years later when Jesus is crucified and then raised from the dead. I tend to think they did connect the dots at the time, but that they didn’t understand the last part of the quotation…Jesus’ zeal is so strong that it will consume him. Now doubt the fulfillment of that is when Christ is consumed on the cross.

There are other OT passages that anticipate the future Messiah’s concern for pure worship. A key passage would be Malachi 3:1–3. We don’t have time to unpack that passage, but that passage anticipates some sort of purification at the temple.

This helps us understand why the temple authorities that come question Jesus do not just arrest him right away…there was some expectation of some kind of purification or replacing of the temple with a more glorious temple when the Messiah would come that they were at least suspicious that Jesus might be more than just meets the eye.

It’s really important to see that Jesus doesn’t just swoop into the temple and just start clearing people out without any OT anticipation of something like this. Jesus is the prophesied Messiah and Son of God, and the cleansing of the temple points us to the truthfulness of those claims.

So, the first part of Jesus cleansing the temple, helps us understand that worshipping God REQUIRES purity…it’s serious business and needs to be done carefully, passionately, but with purity!

Embrace Jesus as the true temple for pure worship (vv.18–22)

The second way to cultivate pure worship is by doing what the Jewish authorities refused to do—embrace Jesus as the true temple for pure worship.

What Jesus does by cleansing the temple points to and typologically anticipates a new temple—namely himself. The temple in the gospel of John is a huge theme. In the prologue, John says

John 1:14 (NASB95PARA)

14 And the Word became flesh, and dwelt (tented—the word for the OT tabernacle) among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.

This verse hints to what Jesus is showing us here in John 2. It’s a bit enigmatic to the disciples and especially the Jewish authorities, but for us on this side of the cross we get to behold this truth much, much more clearly.

The Jews missed what the physical temple pointed to (v.18)

After the commotion dies down to some degree, and the sellers and money changers and all the animals are out of the temple, the “Jews” as the text says come to question Jesus about what has just happened. And their question reveals that they missed what the physical temple pointed to.

Now, we cannot fault these temple authorities for questioning Jesus. They really did have every right to question him and his credentials after the bold actions that he just took. There question as recorded in v.18 says,

John 2:18 (NASB95PARA)

18 The Jews then said to Him, “What sign do You show us as your authority for doing these things?”

The way they ask their question shows some serious deficiencies in how they are approaching Jesus.

First, the fact that they question Jesus, as I’ve already mentioned, clues us into the fact that Jesus isn’t just some nobody or hooligan that’s causing trouble. If Jesus was totally unknown and completely regarded as nobody, then he would have been arrested on the spot.

Just imagine that someone walks into this auditorium and they start turning over chairs and shoving people out of their seats and demanding that all the instruments get taken out of the auditorium…do you think that the pastors are going to gather around after it’s all complete and ask questions? Or do you think we would just call the police as soon as it starts and have him arrested immediately.

So my point it is, Jesus must have been known and he must have been known in a way that was at least causing them to be suspicious that perhaps they are dealing with someone important. The fact that they ask him for a sign—a miracle—indicates that they are somewhat open to him perhaps being a prophet, but they are asking him to prove it.

The second deficiency is that their question of Jesus is only one of authority. There is no question of why he did it, it’s just a question of does he have the authority to do it. There is no hint of self-examination or reflection in their question. There is no genuine concern of what is genuinely right and pure and what is wrong. They only want to know about his authority.

You see the Jews are totally missing the point of the physical temple. The temple was where people can meet with the presence of God in a special way. Purity in the presence of God was of the utmost importance and everything about the physical temple actually communicated that truth. But for the Jews the physical temple became a whole lot more important than focusing on and worshipping in the presence of God. And that’s what Jesus’ temple cleansing communicates. He is the Messiah that cares deeply about genuine pure worship of God.

Beyond the deficiencies in their questioning there is also hilarious irony to me in their question…they ask for a “sign” from Jesus. However, as we’ve seen from the OT, Jesus cleansing the temple is already a sign and they totally miss it!

His disciples accept it with faith, even though they don’t totally understand it. But the authorities here don’t accept!

Jesus shows us that his death and resurrection is ultimately what we need for full access to worship God (vv.19–22)

But, Jesus does in some sense acquiesce to their request for a sign, but not exactly in the way they want.

John 2:19–22 (NASB95PARA)

19 Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” 20 The Jews then said, “It took forty-six years to build this temple, and will You raise it up in three days?” 21 But He was speaking of the temple of His body. 22 So when He was raised from the dead, His disciples remembered that He said this; and they believed the Scripture and the word which Jesus had spoken.

The apostle John helps us out by telling us what the sign was. The disciples didn’t get it until after Jesus was resurrected. This is the ultimate sign…the ultimate miracle, and when this miracle happens, the Jews still don’t believe.

But consider the irony of the question, Jesus’ response and then the Jews response to Jesus. The Jews ask for a miracle. Jesus tells them a miracle that he will do…of course they don’t interpret what that miracle is accurately…but their reply to Jesus is, no one could destroy the physical temple and rebuild it in 3 days, that’s IMPOSSIBLE!!! Do you see the humor? A miracle is something that is impossible according to natural laws and normal working order of science…but when Jesus gives them something that would clearly defy natural laws and the normal working of science they scoff at him and say no way, it’s impossible!

That really makes you wonder what it was they were actually looking for, doesn’t it?

Friends, that’s a really bad way to approach Jesus. That’s a really bad way to approach God. If you are going to Jesus with questions, then honestly bring questions. Don’t bring questions that aren’t really questions. You can tell that they’ve already made up their mind about Jesus.

The sign that Jesus gives us show us that our need is much, much greater than a simple cleansing of the temple—if a temple cleansing really is that simple—but we need a whole new temple…we need a whole new way to access God more fully.

Friends, that way is through the temple of Jesus…Jesus, being the Messiah, being the Son of God, is the second person of the Trinity. He is God in the flesh and so in Jesus you get the full presence of God dwelling bodily. That’s what John makes super clear in his prologue in vv.1–18. Paul also makes that same point in Colossians 1:

Colossians 1:19 (NASB95PARA)

19 For it was the Father’s good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him

For us to have full access to God…most of us are gentiles in this room, meaning not Jewish. Our access to God through the physical temple only brought us into the outer court. Jewish women got to a little further into another court. But then only Jewish men, and then only Jewish priests and then finally in the holy of holies where the Ark of the Covenant was, only the High Priest could go and only on one day one time a year!

Friends, pure worship is demanded, it’s through the sign of Jesus body—the true temple being destroyed and raised again that we can be purified completely and have full access to worship God 24/7!

Jesus is not only the greater temple, because in him the full presence of God dwells, but he is also the greater sacrifice that lays down his life as the Passover Lamb to take away the sins of the world. That’s why John the Baptist said of him,

John 1:29 (NASB95PARA)

29 …“Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!

Friends, I want to ask all of you have you trusted in the sign that Jesus gave to the Jews? His temple, Christ’s body was destroyed and three days later his body, physically was raised again. The sign of Jesus cleansing the physical temple was pointing to the sign of the greater cleansing that was going to come through Christ’s death, burial and resurrection. Because of our sin, we cannot access God apart from Christ’s sacrifice.

In the OT the physical temple and the sacrificial system was pointing towards the need for a better temple and better sacrifice where we could unfettered access to God and be made clean once and for all by a perfect sacrifice.

Jesus is that temple and that sacrifice.

What does it take for Christ’s sacrifice to save you? It takes exactly what the disciples do in v.22.

John 2:22 (NASB95PARA)

22 So when He was raised from the dead, His disciples remembered that He said this; and they believed the Scripture and the word which Jesus had spoken.

Do you believe the Scripture? Do you believe the eye witness accounts that we are studying? And do you believe what Jesus has said about who his is and what his sacrifice has accomplished for all who believe.

If you haven’t, I would really invite you to make that choice to trust in Jesus Christ today.

Evaluate the nature of your faith (vv.23–25)

Well our text ends with a transition that naturally concludes what we’ve just covered and prepares the way for what we will study next week in John 3 and the conversation Jesus has with Nicodemus.

These three verses press those of us who would claim to have trusted in Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior and have embraced him as the true temple and presence of God to evaluate the nature of our faith…to evaluate the nature of our belief.

Scripture clearly has a category of belief and faith that isn’t enough.

Acknowledging miracles isn’t enough for saving faith (v.23)

Verse 23 shows us that acknowledging miracles isn’t enough for saving faith.

John 2:23 (NASB95PARA)

23 Now when He was in Jerusalem at the Passover, during the feast, many believed in His name, observing His signs which He was doing.

Remember, the purpose of John’s gospel is so that we might believe he is the Son of God and have life in his name. Believe here is the same word. But part of what John does at various points in the gospel is contrast true belief in Jesus Christ with a spurious, partial, non-saving belief in Jesus.

John does this because he wants his readers to know the difference so that they can choose to believe in the way that will allow you to have life in his name!

Jesus knows whether your faith is genuine or not (vv.24–25)

As the next two verses reveal, Jesus has divine knowledge that only God has…which is another evidence to Jesus being God in flesh…but Jesus knows whether your faith is genuine or not.

John 2:24–25 (NASB95PARA)

24 But Jesus, on His part, was not entrusting Himself to them, for He knew all men, 25 and because He did not need anyone to testify concerning man, for He Himself knew what was in man.

This on first glance might look like Jesus is being standoffish and keeping his distance from people that do believe in him. But the text is communicating that there is a kind of faith and belief that Jesus can see through that isn’t really genuine. It’s harder to see in English, but there is a play on words here. In v.23 it says “many believed in His name,” but here in v.24, it says, “Jesus on His part was not believing in them!”

And the reason he didn’t “believe in them” is because their belief is the kind of faith that is amazed at the power, miracles and gifts of Jesus but with a lens on how those can selfishly be used for me. Many of the religious leaders didn’t believe in Jesus because Jesus was simply in their way. His miracles, his authority and everything was in the way of what they wanted. The people here saw Jesus’ miracles and power as something useful to them, but again the focus wasn’t on genuine worship of God, but rather on their own purposes and ends.

This part of the text leaves us with a question? What kind of belief do we have?

If you have believed in Christ, then this section is here to prick us to evaluate to make sure our faith is genuine…and a genuine faith in Christ won’t be a perfect faith, but it will be a growing faith like the disciples faith. And it will be a faith that leads us more and more towards pure worship. It will be a faith that leads us to trust and act more and more on the Scripture and the Words of Jesus!

If Jesus knows what kind of faith you have, then ask him to make it clear to you through the Scriptures what kind of belief you have.

Non-Christian friend. I’m glad you’re here, I’m glad you’re listening. What are you believing in? Are you like the Jewish authorities clinging to the temple and their national identity? So are you clinging to the identity and prosperity of this nation? Are you clinging to your own ability to present you pure enough to the Lord? Are you choosing to believe that the Bible is just some old dusty book with some good stuff and some bad stuff? Friend what you genuinely believe is going to make all the difference…not just in this world, but in eternity.

And God so loved the World, and Jesus so zealously loved the father, that the father was willing to give up the Son and the Son was willing to be consumed so that we might have eternal life in his name. I’d invite you to trust in Jesus today…don’t wait any longer.

Let’s pray.


[1] Douglas K. Stuart, Exodus (vol. 2; The New American Commentary; Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2006), 273.

[2] R. Kent Hughes, John: That You May Believe (Preaching the Word; Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 1999), 66.

[3] Flavius Josephus and William Whiston, The Works of Josephus: Complete and Unabridged (Peabody: Hendrickson, 1987), 749.

[4] D. A. Carson, The Gospel according to John (The Pillar New Testament Commentary; Leicester, England; Grand Rapids, MI: Inter-Varsity Press; W.B. Eerdmans, 1991), 178–179.

Authors

Josh Greiner

Roles

Pastor of Faith West Ministries - Faith Church

Director of Faith West Community Center - Community Ministries West

Vice-Chair of the CDC Board - Northend Ministries

MABC Instructor - Faith Bible Seminary

Director of Biblical Counseling Training Conference - Faith Biblical Counseling Ministries

Bio

BA - Political Science, Purdue University
M.Div. - Faith Bible Seminary
Th.M. - Biblical Counseling, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
Ph.D. - Biblical Counseling, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (in progress)

Pastor Josh Greiner joined the staff at Faith Church in 2013 after being a part of the three year internship at FBS and oversees the Faith Church West Campus. He also serves as an ACBC certified counselor, grader, and fellow in training; he teaches in Faith’s Biblical Counseling Ministries and serves as an adjunct professor for Faith Bible Seminary (M.Div. and MABC); and serves his community on the Board of the Faith Community Development Corporation and as the chaplain of the West Lafayette Fired Department. Josh is married to Shana and has four children: Winston, Cecilia, Lorelai, and Edwin.

Read Josh Greiner's Journey to Faith for the full account of how the Lord led Pastor Greiner to Faith Church.