Branson Bible Church
Sunday Service 1.9.2022
  • Come People Of The Risen King
  • Praise To The Lord The Almighty
      • Psalm 95:1–3ESV

  • Behold Our God
  • Please turn with me in your Bibles to Luke chapter 19, verses 45-48, and let’s begin with seeking God in prayer, to set our hearts in right submission to him as we study his word.
    PRAY
    Intro: Most of us try to avoid being the center of any controversy (and for good reason). ***
    In his public ministry, Jesus attracted significant attention because of the unique authority of his teaching and the power of God displayed in his miracles. He became exceedingly sought after and popular among the people. But that made him a target of angst and bitterness for the religious authorities because his teaching frequently put their falsehood and self-interest in its crosshairs.
    For most of his ministry, he avoided too much messianic attention because, in spite of other confrontations with the leaders, it was not yet time to allow that conflict to reach its culmination. But as he entered Jerusalem this time, and which Luke has been building to this point, in Luke 19:28-44 (which is what we covered last in our study some 3-4 weeks ago now) Jesus is controlling the circumstances that he knows would lead toward a climactic controversy over who he is.
    Luke does not give a specific timestamp, but Mark informs us that this temple cleansing takes place on the following day, which would be Monday, if indeed the controversial entry into Jerusalem took place on Sunday. (If that took place on a Monday, as some timelines suggest, then this would be Tuesday.) Apparently Jesus had spent the night at the home of friends—Mary, Martha, and Lazarus—in nearby Bethany and returned to the temple the following day.
    In our text today then, which is the Monday of passion week, we have a surprising action and rebuke on the temple grounds that leads directly to covert efforts to destroy him. Luke desires that we see these things not as accidents happening to Jesus, but as the Lord being fully in control of the situation because his coming fate is in fact the intended mission in the plan of a sovereign God.
    What’s more, he presses a response from everyone, and here especially from the religious leaders: Will they listen to Jesus’ prophetic rebuke and repent and reform, recognizing Jesus as God’s anointed one, the Messiah, or would they choose to reject him, giving clear evidence of their rebellion and hard-heartedness toward what God desires from them.
    Luke 19:45–48 ESV
    And he entered the temple and began to drive out those who sold, saying to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be a house of prayer,’ but you have made it a den of robbers.” And he was teaching daily in the temple. The chief priests and the scribes and the principal men of the people were seeking to destroy him, but they did not find anything they could do, for all the people were hanging on his words.
    Why would Jesus do this? (Again, I already led you toward this in the conclusion, so the answer is in the text and provides the two main points for our understanding and application.)
    Jesus cleanses the outer court of the Temple...
    1. As a display of God’s righteous anger against the spiritual wickedness of the nation
    2. To stimulate further controversy and confrontation, forcing a decision about Him
    This is not an uncontrolled outburst of rage from Jesus. To the contrary, it is a calculated act that pictures the righteous anger of God toward an unrepentant leadership and people, displayed in their commercialization of the temple.

    Jesus’ Act Displays God’s Righteous Anger Against Sin (vv. 45-46)

    In order to get to the bottom of why Jesus is rebuking this activity, it’s helpful to note 2 things that are not the problem: (bc they are normal activities that were part of temple worship)
    [list two things, then explain]
    1. Worshippers buying and selling animals needed for sacrifice. - This was even recommended in the OT law. Instead of bringing sacrifices from long distances (there were Jews in diaspora as well as Gentile proselytes to Judaism who made the journey to Jerusalem for the Passover feast), people could purchase what was needed for sacrifice right in Jerusalem.
    2. Exchanging for proper currency necessary for paying the temple tax. - Jewish people coming from various parts of the empire would have local currencies that had to be converted. - Proceeds from such things was to go toward the priests and their services and the care and maintenance of the temple complex.
    So if these are not the problem, what is? In his rebuke of all this commerce in the outer court, Jesus alludes to two OT texts, which serve to help us understand what exactly is the problem.
    Jesus has entered the temple, so this must take place in the outer court, the Court of the Gentiles. First, should the place that was intended for prayerful worship of God become the focal point of commerce, even if that commerce is tied to temple activity?
    A phrase from the end of Isaiah 56:7 states “for my house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples.” In other words, worshipping the one true God at the temple is meant to be an example to the world as well as an invitation to people of any ethnicity to join in worshipping the God of Israel. Instead of being a light to the Gentiles of the one true God, the focus has become commerce.
    There may be an additional indictment here as well. One background commentary explains: “[…] In the Old Testament the only separation in the temple was between priests and people. But in Jesus’ day the temple was also segregated by race and gender for purity reasons, with Jewish women on a lower level outside the Court of Israel and non-Jews in the outermost court.” - Craig S. Keener, The IVP Bible Background Commentary: New Testament (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1993), Mk 11:17.
    In the temple built by Solomon under God’s instruction, there was an inner court (upper) for the priests and then there was a Great Court (outer) where everyone else gathered for worship. It is therefore likely the case that Jesus also has a problem with this racial and gender segregation in the worship of God.
    The second half of Jesus’ statement (and the part that lands a harsh rebuke) is that they have made the temple a den of robbers.
    We don’t know the details, but one wonders if the religious leaders aren’t profiting by the activity in the outer court in some way. I picture some kind of arrangement where the merchants paid for their spot to sell goods on the temple grounds. But I believe that Jesus has an even more broad and stronger indictment than financial gain off of religious practice (which is indeed wicked in God’s sight).
    With his rebuke, Jesus alludes to Jeremiah 7:11. In the context of that chapter, the prophet Jeremiah, commissioned by God to do so, stands in the gate of the temple and condemns the people for living in wanton sin, and in their falsehood and unrepentance, still think the house of the Lord will be their safe haven from God’s judgment.
    Jeremiah 7:9–11 ESV
    Will you steal, murder, commit adultery, swear falsely, make offerings to Baal, and go after other gods that you have not known, and then come and stand before me in this house, which is called by my name, and say, ‘We are delivered!’—only to go on doing all these abominations? Has this house, which is called by my name, become a den of robbers in your eyes? Behold, I myself have seen it, declares the Lord.
    By contrast, if their aim were to come into God’s holy presence with the desire to repent and reform, then they would dwell safely there with God. But as that was not the case, the Lord told them in subsequent verses (12-15) that he would cause them (Judah and Benjamin) to be defeated and exiled just as he had done with their northern counterparts in Israel (conquered and taken captive by the Assyrians in 722 BC).
    Sure enough, Jeremiah lived to see the fulfillment of this prophecy when Judah fell to Babylon’s King Nebuchadnezzer II and many leaders, military men and artisans were deported as prisoners to Babylon. And in 587 BC the temple was looted and destroyed and Jerusalem burned.
    So too in the context of Jesus’ day, he says of the current generation (especially their leaders) that what God intended as a house of prayer (of right spiritual relationship to God), they have twisted into meaningless commercial religious ritual.
    Their spiritual falsehood will be their downfall. This temple would not be a safe haven as they behaved as if it were “a den of robbers”—where scoundrels hide and keep their loot. Instead, as Jesus predicts briefly after this in Luke (21:5-6), the temple would again be destroyed (which took place in 70 AD and has never been rebuilt).
    So we have seen that Jesus cleanses the temple as a prophetic sign of the righteous anger of God. Israel is a nation in need of cleansing. The presence of God with his people has been so tainted that national repentance is required. But Jesus’ warning falls on deaf ears, just as the clear evidence that he is indeed Messiah has been ignored.
    Instead…

    Jesus’ Act Causes the Leaders’ Decisive Commitment to Destroy Him (vv. 47-48)

    What Jesus had done in clearing the outer court could not technically be considered a defilement of that which was sacred, but it certainly would “have enraged the authorities and served as a direct challenge to their power there.” -Craig S. Keener, The IVP Bible Background Commentary: New Testament (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1993), Lk 19:47.
    Background Commentary explains that for the priestly aristocracy, “Their position in relation to both the Romans and their own people depended in large measure on their authority and keeping order in the temple.” -Craig S. Keener, The IVP Bible Background Commentary: New Testament (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1993), Mk 11:18.
    What’s more, in vv. 47-48 we learn that while Jesus was in the area for the Passover feast (and more than that, he’s there walking obediently in submission to the Father’s plan for his mission to die and rise again), he teaches daily in the temple.
    It was normal for other teachers to also teach in the temple courts, but the Jewish aristocracy would have taken it upon themselves to squelch any wannabe messiahs, who were usually revolutionaries, from stirring up trouble. - In this case, they reject and oppose the true Messiah.
    That forms the backdrop for their newfound committed conspiracy against Jesus. Luke broadens the responsibility beyond just the religious leaders (the chief priests and the scribes—experts in the religious law, usually associated with the Pharisees) to include even the civil leaders of the people.
    Their commitment to eliminate Jesus faces a problem though, because the people are hanging on his every word, so they cannot attack him head-on due to his popularity among the people.
    First we will see in subsequent paragraphs and interactions that they will continue their approach of trying to draw him into debate, to see if by some means they can discredit him among the people or trick him into saying something that would put him into some other legal trouble. Their efforts will prove fruitless, and they will become only more embarrassed and frustrated.
    So later in the week, these conspiring leaders will find a time to get to him at night, when fewer people are around, and in tragic twist (but clearly in God’s providence), the means to accomplish this secret arrest will come by betrayal from one of his closest followers—Judas Iscariot.
    Rather than seeing Jesus as Messiah, and instead of listening to his prophetic rebuke that they must repent and reform, the Jewish leaders instead choose rejection. Their rejection of Jesus will mean God’s rejection of them.
    [Conclusion]
    Jesus divides the world and remains controversial to this day. Luke wants his readers, including us, to see Jesus demonstrating what people must decide: How does God intend for us to worship Him, and what should we do with Jesus? Luke shows us that the two questions belong together.
    In this confrontation at the temple, what Jesus does displays the character of God and brings us face to face with a decision about how are are responding to Jesus.
    And so our two points of application today fall into those two categories: contemplating the character of God and responding rightly to Jesus.
    I am stricken to the heart by the way this particular activity at the temple places side by side the holiness of God and His loving mercy.
    God’s Holiness & His Loving Mercy
    ***
    Responding to Jesus: Rejection or Repentance & Reformation
    What about you? Has Jesus’ call fallen on a hard heart?
    Repentance and reform becomes a way of life for the Christian.
    ***
    Communion: continuing in the theme of Repentance and Reform
    ---
      • Luke 19:45–48ESV

      • Jeremiah 7:9–11ESV

    • I Surrender All

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