67 Luke 19.45-49
Worship…A Dirty Business?
v It is perhaps providential that on the eve of our new Sunday School class on “Worship” we have a text that deals with the cleansing of the worship area
READ Luke 19:45-49
v Here, Jesus is reacting to what he sees going on in his place of worship
Ø This text should make us sit up and take notice that Yahweh cares about what goes on in worship!
§ Both then and NOW!
Worship is supposed to be Pure
v Here we are on the same day in which…
Ø As Jesus approached Jerusalem, he wept over the people’s impure, hard hearts
Ø Jesus entered Jerusalem to the pure praise of the people
§ Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord
§ Peace in heaven and glory in the highest
v And he makes a beeline for the place his spirit has resided for hundreds of years
Ø Now God…in human form…incarnate…enters his temple home
§ And he is met with sacrilege and desecration
v As Mark 11:15-16 describes it…
Ø Jesus entered the temple area and began driving out those who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves, and would not allow anyone to carry merchandise through the temple courts
v The Temple had 3 areas:
Ø The Holy of Holies
Ø The Inner court
Ø Court of the Gentiles
§ Holy of Holies = High priest once a year
§ Inner court = Jews only
§ Court of Gentiles = converted Gentiles and evangelistic outreach
· You see…
¨ Worship can be used as outreach in the explaining of what is going on!
v But Jesus entered this outer court of the Gentiles and…
Ø Does not witness Gentiles worshipping and praying
Ø Does not see the Jews explaining to people what is going on
§ He sees…
· People using the temple as a shortcut
· Buying and selling
¨ Animals for sacrifice priced high for profit
¨ Fill the coffers of Anannias and Ciaphas
¨ Temple tax instead of tithing
Ø And this infuriated Jesus
§ Because the temple worship was supposed to be Pure
· Purely for the act of worship
v I wonder if this challenges anything we do here in our worship
Ø If Jesus were to walk in to our service…
§ Would he see anything impure?
· Would he see merchandise being carried through the worship center
¨ In other words…
Ø People who are here, but not really interested in worshipping Yahweh
Ø Just passing through
· Would he see moneychangers in his temple gathering
¨ In other words…
Ø People tithing out of wrong motivation
§ Tithing to get some blessing
§ Tithing to pay the electricity bill
§ Tithing to meet the budget
· Instead of giving back to the Lord that which is already his
· Giving because we have a generous heavenly Father
· Giving what the Lord has placed on your heart to give
¨ Be it large or small
· Would he see people buying and selling
¨ In other words…
Ø Doing business
§ By that I mean, doing anything except worshipping our Lord and Savior
§ Doing anything except pure worship
Ø One of the things I try very hard to do as Pastor is keep all distractions or potential distractions away from us in this one hour
§ You can ask the elders
§ You can ask the leadership council
· I protect this time of worship together
· So that our focus will be exclusively, solely on our God
¨ I have encouraged us to get rid of the inserts in the bulletins
¨ I have encouraged that the Harbinger newsletter be handed out after the service
¨ Many of you have noticed I refrain from doing patriotic hymns on memorial day and 4th of July
Ø To tell you the truth, I think we should put the flag in another place
Ø Jesus wants…no demands…purity of worship
§ This is God’s time
§ While God’s people are here, this is God’s place!
· We must always be diligent to keep it pure
Secondly, I believe Jesus is furious because…
Worship is supposed to be Special
v V. 46 ~ My house will be ‘a house of prayer’, but you have made it ‘a den of robbers’
Ø What he is saying in so many words is…
§ You have made the most special place on earth…
v Jesus here is quoting Isa 56:7 & Jer 7:11
Ø But by quoting Jeremiah’s famous temple speech
§ “den of robbers”
· Jesus is warning, just as Jeremiah did, that the people have become like the people around them
¨ That the pagan culture had infiltrated theirs
Ø Even into the temple!
v And Jesus’ words chastise and challenge us today, just as they did back then
Ø The church today is obsessed with being like the culture around them
§ Instead of being counter-cultural
v The church growth movement says…
Ø Bigger is better
Ø Bigger means successful
§ So we have mega-churches today
§ Campuses that sprawl over 10’s of acres
· But that is a secular worldview
¨ But what does God’s word say…
Ø I have reserved for myself a remnant
Ø Many are called but few are chosen
Ø Not all who call themselves Israel are true Israel
§ I am not saying that big churches are wrong
· But what I am saying is…
¨ What is the reason for them?
Ø For the world’s benefit or God’s?
v The seeker sensitive movement says…
Ø Remove anything that might offend the non-believer
§ So we take away the offering
§ We push the Lord’s Supper to one side
§ We take any liturgy out of the service
· Confessions, benedictions
§ We pump up the music
§ And water down the Gospel
· We don’t talk about sin and death and hell
¨ But the word says the gospel is…
Ø A stumbling block to the Jews and foolishness to the Gentiles
Ø The Gospel is the smell of death to those who don’t believe
Ø The Gospel is an affront to those who don’t believe
v The culture says it’s all about me
Ø So we adopt the culture’s consumeristic approach toward worship
§ Worship is no longer something we give to Yahweh
· It is something we get
¨ So we analyze, judge and push worship through the filter of our own preferences
v Mark Dever in “9 Marks of a Healthy Church” challenges people’s consumeristic approach in the following satiric way…
Ø Did you have trouble finding a good parking place this morning? Were the doors clearly marked? Did the people welcome you as you came in? Did the building seem nice and neat?
Ø And when you did come in, were the people friendly and welcoming? Any trouble dropping the kids off? And what do you think about the stained glass? Then again, maybe it's a little too traditional for you.
Ø Are the pews comfortable? Do you have a good view of all the activities from where you are sitting? Can you see clearly? Can you hear okay? Is it warm enough for you right now? Do you feel pretty comfortable?
Ø And how about the bulletin? Nice, clear, simple, pretty straightforward? Not too complicated. Is the print too small?
Ø And what about the people sitting around you? Are they the kind you like to go to church with? Yeah, I know you're too nervous to look around you right now, but you know who they are. What do you think? Are they the right age? Are they the right race? Are they the right social class? Are they just like you?
Ø And what about the service so far? Has the leader seemed informed, yet not know-it-all-ish? Competent, yet not overbearing? There weren't too many announcements in the service, were there? Have the prayers been involving? Have they engaged your heart and mind?
Ø And what about the Scripture read in church today? Too much? Too little?
Ø And of course, there's the music. Too Contemporary? Too traditional? Too classical? Too modern? Too liturgical? Too informal?
Ø And how about the offering? Can you believe that? They actually took up an offering in public with visitors and all! That is the kind of thing they tell you in seminary these days you should never do. How did it make you feel? Did it make you feel that the church is full of a bunch of money-grubbing people who just want to get from you when you come?
§ And he goes on…
v Mark Dever puts his finger on one of the biggest issues in the modern church today…
§ All these questions are self-centered
· But when we come to worship
¨ We must break from culture
¨ We must retain the special-ness of worship
Ø And be God-centered
v Jesus entered his temple 2,000 years ago and was heartbroken
Ø The special had become the mundane
Ø The pure had become polluted
Ø The people forgot…
§ Where they were
§ What they were to be doing
§ And in whose presence they were in
v Robert Robinson wrote in the hymn “Come thou Fount of Every Blessing”
Ø O to grace how great a debtor
Daily I’m constrained to be!
Let Thy goodness, like a fetter,
Bind my wandering heart to Thee.
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
Prone to leave the God I love;
Here’s my heart, O take and seal it,
Seal it for Thy courts above.
v The challenge in worship for us today is to not let our hearts wander!
Ø We come week in and week out to this place and do pretty much the same things
§ It is very easy, therefore, to lose sight of the importance of
· Where we are…
¨ In the very temple of God
§ It is very easy to lose sight of
· What we are doing…
¨ Giving to God our very lives as a living sacrifice
§ It is very easy to lose sight of
· Whose presence we are in
¨ You see…
Ø This passage of Scripture is not history, it is theology
§ Jesus is right here in our midst
§ He is present with us today
§ He has come into his temple “not built with hands”
v In the next few minutes…
Ø We are about to partake of the most special and pure activities a Christian can do
§ The Lord’s Supper
· So now let Heb 12:1 become a reality in your heart and…
¨ … throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles (and) Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith
v Jesus & cleansing of temple
Ø Can you imagine Jesus, God incarnate, walking into his spiritual home
§ And seeing…
· Buying & selling
· People using the court of the gentiles as a shortcut
§ Worship, at one and the same time, is supposed to feel comfortable and foreign
· Comfortable in that your spirit
· Foreign in that
· When you enter a worship service, it is not supposed to feel