Ok, let’s briefly go over Brother Nate’s sermon from last Sunday, where he tells us a parable about management…In the parable, we learn of a Nobleman who was temporarily going to a foreign country to gain its Kingdom…he left ten of his slaves with ten “minas” each and ordered them to do business for him in his absence…upon his return, he discovers how well each servant did with managing his money…This story parallels what Jesus was trying to convey about the New King and Himself…He indicates that faithful obedience leads to greater responsibility in managing the Kingdom’s resources.
Now, today’s Sermon, starts out with Luke 19:45-48 and then continues with Luke 20:1-8. Remember, it is the time of Passover…and as we ended the last chapter with Jesus entering Jerusalem on the back of a donkey; We start here in Luke 19:45-46 where the Bible tells us…
- 45 Jesus entered the temple and began to drive out those who were selling,
- 46 saying to them, “It is written, `AND MY HOUSE SHALL BE A HOUSE OF PRAYER,’ but you have made it a ROBBERS DEN.”
This was considered the second cleansing of the Temple by our Lord Jesus. He found many people there, selling oxen, sheep, and doves for the sacrificial offerings…The selling of sacrificial animals at the Temple had been authorized by Caiaphas the Jewish High Priest…to make money for the Sanhedrin, and the day to day operations of the Temple.The animals used for the offerings had to be free of disease and physical defects…And although exorbitantly expensive, those purchasing the animals had grown accustomed to buying them at the temple courts, because they felt secure in the fact that the animals were of the quality needed for sacrificial offering…And “plain and simple”, it was just easier to buy an animal there, because they didn’t have to raise it…and they didn’t have to feed it and care for it as they made their pilgrimage to the city…and many of them lived quite a distance from Jerusalem…So, to bring an animal a long distance was troublesome to say the least…and the longer distance they had to travel, the more troublesome it was.Interestingly, animal sales and money changing was actually a major source of income for the Jewish Temple…But, it was apparent that the Temple had become more of a place for business, rather than a place for worship…Additionally, it was readily known that ancient temples were used as some of the first banks….and so, the Temple in Jerusalem also functioned as a bank… So it was, that the money changers were there to convert the many different denominations of currency that flowed into the city…and much of the coinage in ancient biblical days was of varying weights and values…So, the predominant currency accepted for purchase of the sacrificial animals, was the uniform coinage known as the “Tyrian Shekel”…originating from the dominant Phoenician trading seaport of Tyre…it was of equal weight and high quality silver…and it was the preferred currency of the time, throughout the Eastern Mediterranean, from about 126 BC to about 65 AD…In fact, the Tyrian Shekel was publicly referred to as “The Shekel of the Sanctuary” …because it was required that the temple tax be paid with this particular silver coinage. However, the Tyrian Shekel was also stamped with the image of the Phoenician deity Baal on one side and an Eagle clutching a ship on the other side.So, amidst the chaotic scene, with the horrendous smell and sounds of all the animals there…the very use of idolatrous money in the temple, infuriated Jesus…so he sternly rebukes everyone, overturns the money changers tables, spilling the coins everywhere, and chases-out the animals with a whip of cords…Now, this was a rare moment that Our Lord showed his anger in such a fashion…but it was because the people were doing these things in the “House of Prayer”…It was sacrilegious behavior, and it hurt Jesus deeply to see this…so He put a stop to it immediately!
- 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.
Can you imagine yourself trying to get into the temple to pray…and trying to make it through the crowd of people, and the myriad of animals…having to, of course, be really careful where you step, because your wearing sandals…Then, here comes Jesus overturning the tables of money, whipping the animals, and chasing all of them out of the temple court area… My Friends, what a scene that must’ve been!
After this was all over, He could be found there teaching, as is told to us in Luke 19:47-48
- 47 And He was teaching daily in the temple; but the chief priests and the scribes and the leading men among the people were trying to destroy Him,
- 48 and they could not find anything they might do, for all the people were hanging on to every word He said.
Brothers and Sisters, Jesus loved to teach…and as He taught, the people of the crowd listened intently…they marveled at how well He articulated the scripture to them…and how He spoke with such authority…they could only listen and be amazed at His teaching.You see here, that the “Chief Priests”, who were Israel’s religious leaders, and the “Scribes”, who were trained interpreters of the Mosaic law, did not believe Jesus was the Messiah…they believed only God had authority…and they wondered where the authority had come from, that allowed Jesus to chase out the sellers and money changers from the temple…calling the temple “My House”…What right did He have to do these things and use such speech, they wondered!
- “…For My House will be called a house of prayer for all the peoples.”
After all, the Pharisees and many others from the Sanhedrin, merely looked at Jesus as just some poor fool from Nazareth…and as it was often said back then, “What good can come from Nazareth”…They believed that Our Lord’s speech and teachings were heretical and blasphemous…and as a result, He should be put to death.
And so, what the Chief Priests and Scribes were signifying here…was that Jesus was speaking as if He were God…He calls the temple “My House”…and therefore, He was blaspheming and should be put to death…This was their belief! It shows us their blind and overly strict adherence to what was laid down in the Law of Moses…and how they used the Mosaic Law to mis-manage the spiritual good of the people and the city of Jerusalem…They did not recognize Jesus as the “Son of Man”…and they did not recognize their “time of visitation”…as our Lord had declared back in Luke 19:44…
- “and they will level you to the ground and your children within you, and they will not leave within you one stone upon another, because you did not recognize the time of your visitation.”
However, even though they were just itching to take Jesus into custody…They were facing a major roadblock…they could readily take no action against Him, because the people were “hanging” on every word He said…And the Priests and Scribes dreaded a violent response if they interfered, not only from the mixed crowd of Jews and Gentiles who could riot, but also their Roman overlords, as well, who would kill to stop the riot.Because of this, they decided to be shrewd in their attempt to publicly discredit our Lord…see what they try to do to Him in Luke 20:1-2
- 1 On one of the days while He was teaching the people in the temple and preaching the gospel, the chief priests and the scribes with the elders confronted Him,
- 2 and they spoke, saying to Him, “Tell us by what authority You are doing these things, or who is the one who gave You this authority?”
Now, Jesus recognizes their tactic, so He answers their question, with a question of His own…as He says to them in Luke 20:3-4
- 3 Jesus answers and said to them, “I will ask you a question, and you tell me;
- 4 “Was the baptism of John from heaven or from men?”
John “The Baptist”, also known as the “Immerser”, preached a message of baptism for the repentance of sin, by immersing someone in the Jordan river…he wanted to rouse the Jewish community and prepare them for the coming of the Messiah.
Earlier in Luke 7:27 , Luke makes a reference to John’s calling to baptize…which had been prophesied in the book of Isaiah.
- “This is the one about whom it is written,” `Behold, I send My messenger ahead of you. Who will prepare your way before you.’”
Brothers and Sisters, most of us have been baptized, but for those who have not had that joy, yet… Baptism is one of the primary ordinances of our Church, and it is a hallmark of repentance…the word Baptism comes from the Greek “Baptisma”; meaning to immerse or wash in water…It is symbolic, it doesn’t mean like just taking a bath or shower…It is an open and visible declaration of one’s faith in redemption…it is not something done in secret…It is done so that others can recognize a believer’s new-found spiritual transformation…
- “Corresponding to that, baptism now saves you–not the removal of dirt from the flesh, but an appeal to God for a good conscience—through the resurrection of Jesus Christ,
You see, “Baptism” signifies an outward commitment to a spiritually changed life…A commitment of belief that our Lord Jesus Christ is the savior of mankind…A commitment to pursue and practice His teachings and help others find the Gospel of Salvation…And a commitment to practice love and forgiveness. So, to answer Jesus’s question in verse 4…it is clearly evident that the Baptism of John was from heaven…not from man! Oh, but here it comes…the Chief Priests, Scribes, and Elders too…wanted to be tricky, so they discussed it amongst themselves, as it says in Luke 20:5-6
- 5 They reasoned among themselves, saying, “If we say, `From heaven,’ He will say, `Why did you not believe him?’”
- 6 “But if we say, `From men,’ all the people will stone us to death, for they are convinced John was a prophet.”
It seems here, however, that they were certainly trying to be crafty…because of the very questions and answers they are posing to one another…they didn’t believe in Jesus as the Messiah…and if they answered “from heaven”, they considered that it would be blasphemy on their part and punishable by being stoned to death…but if they answered “from man”, they would be stoned to death because the people looked to John as a prophet with a divine gift…So, we see here, that the Priests, Scribes, and Elders most certainly knew that Jewish Mosaic Law required someone be put to death, by stoning, if they blasphemed. Incidentally, and of major importance in these two verses, is the fact that…it was “the people”…who knew the truth and believed that John the Baptist was a prophet…it was “the people”…who would carry out the stoning…it was “the people”…who would carry-out the very sentence of death.Being found guilty of “Blasphemy” and “Stoning someone to Death” became rather common among the Jewish people in biblical antiquity…it was a part of their culture, and it was something they readily did…a good example would be the stoning of Stephen…After he had offered his defense against the charge of blasphemy…to the very same council that had found our Lord Jesus guilty…Stephen is rushed, grabbed and driven out of the city…and then it says in Acts 7:58-60
- And after they had driven him out of the city, they began to stone him, and the witnesses laid aside their cloaks at the feet of a young man named Saul.
- And they kept on stoning Stephen as he was calling out and saying, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit!”
- And falling to his knees, he cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them!” And after he said this, he fell asleep.
Where did the stoning for blasphemy come from, you might ask…well, let’s see what scripture says about the kind of speech they are referring to, as we take a look at Leviticus 24:11-16 This is a story written by Moses, and tells us of a young man with an Israelite Mother and an Egyptian Father…one day the young man gets in a fight with an Israelite man in the encampment and ends up cursing Yahweh…the young man is then brought before Moses…and later, after Yahweh speaks to Moses…then the story ends with verse 16, where Moses orders the following…
- “And he who blasphemes Yahweh’s name certainly shall be put to death; the whole community certainly shall stone him. As the alien, so the native shall be put to death at blaspheming his name.”
Now, back here in Luke 20:7 the Chief Priests, Scribes and Elders absolutely knew that they did not want to be stoned to death…so here’s what they said to Jesus…
- 7 So they answered that they did not know where it came from.
Folks, do you see how devious they were…”They are claiming they don’t know!” And Luke, our author, goes to great lengths in his writings to show that Jesus offered forgiveness and salvation to all…Jews as well as Gentiles…But here, the stubborn Jewish Priests and Scribes of the Sanhedrin, had decided to try and lie their way out of a corner…So, catching the religious leaders in a lie, and turning the tables on them…Jesus simply answers them this way, in Luke 20:8
- 8 “Neither will I tell you by what authority I do these things.”
Luke, once again, points-out in his gospel here, that our Lord Jesus had the “Authority”, vested in Him as God and Savior, to chase-out those making a mockery of His “House of Prayer”.My Dear Friends, we absolutely know that it is wrong to make a mockery of God and His House of Prayer. But, as with ancient history, so it is now…We see mockery and hate towards God…We see His temples being set ablaze…We see that His teachings and prayers are no longer a mainstay across our country. And those, who wonder why our nation seems to have gone-off the tracks…simply need to look in the mirror and ask themselves if they could’ve done something…Because, any of us who choose not to stand-up for God, and to take a stand against evil…We are to blame! So, it is incumbent upon us all, to show our Christian values for one another by exhibiting a loving and caring nature…by being forgiving of one another…by standing strong in our faith and standing-up against the evil trying to take over our land and its people. I ask you, Brothers and Sisters, please don’t sit this one out…we need you in the game!