Values for Jesus
Every person can understand the issues that were important to Jesus by noticing the actions he responded to.
The Disney Pixar Movie “Cars” tells the story of a race car that gets lost on the way to a race. In the process of getting lost he experiences a major shift in his values. At the beginning of the movie he is a lonely individual who is obsessed with winning races. When his agents asks him what friends he would like to send tickets to he can’t think of a single friend to send the tickets to.
The majority of the movie is spent in a small town somewhere along route 66. While here the main character learns about friendship and the importance of having things in his life besides his celebrity status. It really does nothing for him, since no one in this town has ever heard of him. He gets closer and closer to the people in this little town.
By the end of the movie the main character is back on the racetrack, but this time he can’t focus on his race because he keeps thinking of his friends in this little town. He does not win the race, but he wins the admiration of everyone because of a dramatic move to help another racer.
Lightning McQueen experiences a shift in values as he is placed in a different environment. We can learn a lot about Jesus Values from this passage. We can see Jesus’ values through the actions he takes.
Action I. Focus on God
A. In this passage Jesus is going to focus on God by participating in the Passover. All of the Old Testament Feasts and Festivals were times when the Jewish people would gather in Jerusalem, and they would commemorate something that had happened in their life, such as a harvest. In the case of the Passover they are celebrating a historical event. In the book of Exodus the Jewish people had been slaves in Egypt for about 400 years. They were crying out to God to be delivered. He brought them out of their life of slavery through a series of plagues, the last of which was the plague on the firstborn or for the Jewish people it was known as the Passover. In the Passover an angel of death goes throughout Egypt killing off all of the firstborn sons except in the houses where blood had been painted on the door frames of the house. There the angel of death would pass over that house. The Egyptians gave up their rights to the Jewish slaves and the Jewish people were allowed to return to their homes in Israel.
B. Jewish people still commemorate this day, because it was such a huge event. It is a reminder of the graciousness of God. He did a wonderful thing by hearing the prayers of the Jewish people, and responding in such a powerful way. He is a great God. So when Jesus had the opportunity to turn his attention to God along with the rest of the Jewish People, he did. He went into Jerusalem to celebrate the Jewish Passover just like every other good Jewish person would have. It was a time for focusing on God, and it was a time for community as well.
C. Let’s just think for a minute about who Jesus was. He was God in the flesh. As the Jewish Passover is taking place, a time for Jewish people to focus on God, Jesus joins them. It is kind of like going to a party to say nice things about yourself. He is not just anyone; he is God in the flesh. It was important for him to participate in the things of God. I would guess that many of the festivities that were going on Jesus was participating. All of this so he could focus more deeply on God. It was a time for Jesus to commune with God on a heart level.
D. Jesus came and he connected with God. When we gather for worship are we giving God our best and our all? Or are we just following a routine that makes us feel good. When the music is something I don’t recognize it is hard to focus on God. That does not mean that we can’t focus on God, it just means it’s a little harder to do. If the pastor wears a weird tie, it does not make it impossible to focus on God. It just means we need to be more intentional. If we are not giving God our all on Sunday morning, because of something someone has done, then we are allowing that person to stand between us and God. I really don’t think that is what God would want me or anyone here to do. He wants us to draw near to him.
Action II. Using God
A. Have you ever noticed how happy the people who do infomercials are? They are so excited about their product that you just have to have it. It makes all sorts of claims and if you act now you can have additional things for the same price. Many times you might enter into a deal with a company that does this and you find that shipping costs exceed the price of the item. If you ever want to return the item you can’t get in touch with the company and if you do get in touch with them they refuse to refund your shipping costs. After it is all done you find out that the company came out on the better end of the deal and you are short of some of you hard earned doe.
B. That is similar to what is happening in the Temple as Jesus arrives. There are people who are selling sacrifices in the Temple. This was probably not a problem, as a matter of fact it probably started out as a service for the people who had to travel long distances. They could come and purchase an animal for the sacrifice rather than bringing it with them and thereby avoiding a great deal of extra effort. Some people saw what was happening and they thought we could really get rich off of these people. So, even as people brought their animals in the priest would examine it and proclaim it unworthy of a sacrifice. However, if they would step outside there is a gentleman selling sacrifices that have already been pre approved for sacrifice if they would like to buy one. It had become a way for people to steal from these pilgrims who had come to Jerusalem to worship God. They were using a holy time as a time for thievery.
C. Jesus is angry that the Temple officials are allowing this to go on. I don’t think this is just a minor discomfort, because Jesus made a whip in v. 15, and he drives the thieves out of the temple. They had taken something that was intended to be holy and they used it for their own personal gain.
D. These men were using God in order to make a profit. They were not focused on helping people in their worship. I think they were providing a service Jesus could have tolerated that, but they were abusing a holy occasion. I have heard that there are some ministers in the world who do it only for the money. Maybe that is because they have failed at everything else they have done.
Action III. Honor God
A. As Jesus comes into the temple area he experiences people who have a desire to worship God, and he also finds religious leaders who seem to be consumed with a desire to make some money. The religious leaders were not interested in honoring God. They really appear to be more interested in serving themselves. They were obviously people who were not interested in honoring God.
B. Jesus was interested in honoring god and this is evidenced in the phrase, "Zeal for your house will consume me." As Jesus says this he is demonstrating an allegiance to God. He has a single hearted devotion to God. He has a desire to show his allegiance to God. Jesus desire to worship God was a pure desire. This could be contrasted with that of the religious leaders. The religious leaders had a desire to worship God, but their desire did not have the same level of purity and devotion.
C. When a refiner goes about the process of refining gold or silver, they will heat the metal until it become molten. When it this happens the impurities rise to the top and can be skimmed off. After the impurities have been skimmed off the metal becomes more and more pure. Before it can be considered pure the impurities must be removed. The religious leaders had a desire to make money from the influx of religious pilgrims and therefore we can say that their desires for worship were impure. The desire of Jesus was pure. He wanted to give complete focus and devotion to God. He was honoring God with zeal.
D. People have all kinds of ideas of why they come to worship God. For a lot of people it is out of obligation. They were taught to be in worship on a regular basis and so they do it as a part of a routine. Some people feel like it is there weekly pick me up. If they don’t have their hour of worship their week will not go right. Probably most of the reason people gather for worship are pretty good reasons, but they all tend to be diluted with something. Jesus’ worship was a pure worship. It was one that was focused completely on God. It was not for any of the other good reasons people come to God with. The religious leaders obviously had some selfish motives for their work in the Temple.
E. If you were to address the question of why you worship? How would you answer that question? We might all come up with something a little different. Probably they would all sound pretty good. Even a little impurity can ruin everything. We need to make sure that while we are worshipping God our motives are right and pure. It would probably be a good exercise to make sure that when we gather for worship that we get our minds prepared for that time before God.
When I look at the life of Jesus Christ, I see a man who was much more than a man. He was God in the flesh, and even though he had this intimate relationship with God he still spent a lot of time focusing on God. If these were things that were important to Jesus, they should be important for us as well. We should make sure we give God our time and our attention. We should make sure that it is not diluted with other things. God has given so much to us and he requires so little of us in return.