October 16, 2021

Worshipping God and Coming to Jesus 07-03-2021

7th March 2021 (The Third Sunday in Lent)
Title: Worshipping God & Coming to Jesus
(Exodus 20:1-17; John 2:13-22) 
 By Heeyoung Lim
Today’s first reading starts “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.”
In the Book of Exodus, we find the story of the people who led by God out of slavery in Egypt into a new promised land. God gave them ten commandments, and the divine Law was revealed through Moses. It reminds us that the Lord is our God, those are not just commandments, but the gifts of God’s grace that lead to the true life.
The Ten Commandments demonstrate human weaknesses and our inability to follow God completely, but it is relational: The first four deal with our relationship with God, and the rest of six focus on our relationships with people. It is not an earthly way, but the divine way that newly understands, truly saves, and frees the world and people. God’s justice and His abundant love always coexist in our lives.
A theologian, Calvin said, “the Commandments are showing us how we are to live before God and with neighbour, they play a vital, positive role in Christian life.” The commandments light our way and show us how we should live as people who have already been freely given God’s grace in Jesus Christ.
We can appreciate what God has done to provide our salvation and we can take joy in His love for us. The love of God for salvation has been revealed through Jesus.
Last Sunday’s text focused on “What does it mean to be a disciple of Jesus?” Today’s text more focuses on “What does it mean to be the church of Jesus?”
John 2:13-22 follows Jesus’ first sign in Cana, where he turned water into wine at his mother’s request.
In the first half of John 2, at the wedding feast people saw a sign of glory, joy, and calling, it indicates Christ’s creative power to transform, Christ’s ability to turn humiliation into celebrations, and His commitment to God’s purposes and timing.
In today’s text, we see a sign of anger, power, and authority at Jerusalem, it shows Christ’s attitude when he sees what has happened at the temple, Christ’s action to the moneychangers in cleansing the temple, and His prophecy of the resurrection.
Jews travelled to Jerusalem early to purify themselves for Passover as the season of Lent helps Christians prepare for Easter. The feast included the eating of the Passover Lamb which commemorated the passing of death over the Israelites before their departure from Egypt.
Jesus went to Jerusalem when liberation and rescue from slavery being celebrated at the beginning of His ministry in the gospel of John. However, in Matthew, Mark, and Luke the similar incident occurred in Jesus’ final journey just before His crucifixion.
The merchandise described in verse 14 was required for sacrifices. Worshipers had travelled from great distances, and the availability of sacrificial animals was essential to temple worship. They gathered in a holy place remembering God’s deliverance, but the primary purpose of seeking God’s glory through rituals and repentance was forgotten, and the holy place was transformed into a commercial place.
Jesus went into a rage, He chased out the animals, sent the merchants after them. He “poured out the coins” and turned over tables. He commanded the dove-sellers: “Take these things out of here! Stop making my Father’s house a marketplace!” 
Worship is not commercial activity; it is connecting with the Father through Jesus Christ. It cannot be relegated to a building like the temple. Today’s text leads us to true worship, it makes us to concentrate on faith more than format in worship.
“But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” (John 4:23, 24)
As in verse 23, God is seeking such people to worship him, He is receiving our worship when we worship Him in spirit and truth. Jesus is the centre of worship, and his involvement is in our lives. Coming to Jesus is not through formality, but through faith.
Jesus is our Lord. How do we make sure our faith is real before God? How can we obey completely to the Lord? We can do it through being true worshippers and believers. We should not limit worship to a building, and we need to remember the temple or church is the Father’s house where people pray. Worshipping God and coming to Jesus are relational and essential in our lives.
Jesus’ response to the request of Jew was “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” The Jews misunderstood and took His words literally as a reference to the temple building, even the disciples did not understand Jesus’ words until after the resurrection. (2:22)
Jesus is not speaking of the physical temple but of his own body here. People will seek to destroy him, but the cross will not be the end, for Jesus will rise from the dead.
The temple was the meeting place between God and His people, it was a place where human life and divine blessing met. In John’s Gospel, the body of Jesus is the new “holy place”, Jesus himself is the presence of God.
Jesus stands as our saviour welcoming all people to enter the kingdom of God through the crucifixion and resurrection. His love broke all barriers and transcended all obstacles.
I believe our church as the body of the Christ becomes God’s house when we come to Jesus together. We can think about “how Jesus has revealed his glory” in us, we can do whatever Jesus tells us.
Jesus’ act in cleansing the temple in the past raises the reformative thinking on “the cleansing of the church”. The reform of the church is always to be in accordance with the living Scripture, the witness to Christ. If we live by God’s words, then we will enjoy a good fulfilling life.
I hope we need to respond with reflection and faith as true worshippers and believers both individually and collectively. During Lent we are reminded that the story of Jesus culminates at the cross but does not end there.
“What does it mean to be the church of Jesus?” I believe we can be the church of Jesus when we are in God’s house as a part of the body of Christ. The Ten Commandments are God’s gracious gifts for God’s people, and the new commandment given by Jesus is a thankful blessing. Jesus told us “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” (John 13:34) Let us live these words every day.
I hope we can love each other as Jesus has loved us, and I pray we can glorify God by remembering God’s love, worshipping God, coming to Jesus, and doing whatever Jesus tells us as the church of Jesus.
Thanks be to God! Amen!
(Ref. Bible, commentaries, theological books, UCA materials)