Lent Devotion for March 19 - Third Sunday in Lent

Part of our Lent Devotion series, written by Dr. Dan Sharp, Minister of Worship. (Subscribe)

"Zealous for the Lord’s House."

Reader: “Get these things out of here.”
Response: “Stop turning my Father’s house into a marketplace!"

SCRIPTURE: Psalm 69:8-9

8 Even my own brothers pretend they don’t know me;
    they treat me like a stranger.

9 Passion for your house has consumed me,
    and the insults of those who insult you have fallen on me.

SCRIPTURE: John 2:13-17

13 It was nearly time for the Jewish Passover celebration, so Jesus went to Jerusalem. 14 In the Temple area he saw merchants selling cattle, sheep, and doves for sacrifices; he also saw dealers at tables exchanging foreign money. 15 Jesus made a whip from some ropes and chased them all out of the Temple. He drove out the sheep and cattle, scattered the money changers’ coins over the floor, and turned over their tables. 16 Then, going over to the people who sold doves, he told them, “Get these things out of here. Stop turning my Father’s house into a marketplace!” 17 Then his disciples remembered this prophecy from the Scriptures: “Passion for God’s house will consume me.”[a]

2:17 Or “Concern for God’s house will be my undoing.” Ps 69:9.

Reader: “The word of the Lord.”
Response: “Thanks be to God.”

Throughout these Lenten season devotionals, we have endeavored to demonstrate the unity of Scripture in showing the prophetic connections between the Old and New Testaments, the point being to give us a greater grasp of the whole and of our wondrous God. Some background of both of these passages is helpful. When King David wrote Psalm 69, he was lamenting the state of his life. At the time he is feeling discouraged, humiliated, and vulnerable. He feels alone and wishes God would vindicate the righteous. He is disrespected. People who ought to care about God, don’t. King David is passionate about the house of the Lord and the people are not. That is frustrating to him. His prayer is that God would rescue him. In fact, if you read the entire psalm, you can easily see how so many parts of it are a shadow of Jesus’ own experience. When we look at the passage in John’s gospel, we pick up some of the same themes. Jesus was also in Jerusalem at the Temple, the house of the Lord. It was the time of Passover. (John mentions the Passover three different times in his gospel. Since Jesus began His ministry at age 30, that is how many scholars conclude that He was 33 when He died.) Passover was a required pilgrimage feast in which approved sacrifices were offered. Rather than travel many miles with a sacrificial animal, people bought the sacrificial animals in Jerusalem. The place of selling migrated to the Temple court itself. The house of God was meant for worship, instruction, prayer, and sacrifice. It had become a place of commerce. Jesus’ passion to keep the purpose unpolluted, caused Him to drive out the merchants and restore the integrity of the house of the Lord. Once again, Jesus was at odds with the Jewish leaders, which eventually lead to His death. Our Savior always remained focused on His Father’s perspective in the midst of a fallen, antagonistic culture, not unlike our challenge in these days. May we in our days likewise remain focused on our Father’s perspective in the midst of a fallen, antagonistic culture.

Christ Cleansing the Temple by Bernardino Mei

Christ Cleansing the Temple by Bernardino Mei

MUSIC: “And He Shall Purify” from Messiah, Kings College, Cambridge Choir (Note the “scrubbing” nature of purifying in the vocal lines!)

Lord, forgive me that I do not get angry about issues that should disturb me. The man was a bigot, but we all sat by and in our silence encouraged him to think that we agreed with him. How can I stand by and see people wronged? How can I ignore the homeless and widows when I am in a place to help? How can I see my brother taking a course of action that clearly opposes your will and not care enough for him to speak out against what he is doing? The difficulty is to speak the truth in love and often I wonder at my motives. But perhaps the very act of speaking out is an act of love because my comments become a mirror that enables someone I care about to see himself as he really is. Father, give me the courage to create a furor over something important rather than maintaining a safe silence that allows evil to do its deadly work.
–Bryan Jeffery Leech, from Lift My Spirits Lord, p76-77, adapted by D.S.

General / Lent Devotions, Lent 2017