Zeal for Your House

Dr. Kevin DeYoung, Senior Pastor

John 2:13-22 | November 19 - Sunday Morning,

Sunday Morning,
November 19
Zeal for Your House | John 2:13-22
Dr. Kevin DeYoung, Senior Pastor

Let’s pray. Oh, Lord, I wonder how many of us paid attention to the words we just sang. It asked the question “Oh, Lord, why was I a guest?” Why are we here, when millions and billions in the work have never heard of Christ? Why are we here when hundreds of thousands of people in our city are sleeping, resting, mowing their lawn, getting ready for football? Why should you have worked in our hearts? Why should you bring us here? Perhaps with great anticipation or perhaps brought here even against our will, why should we have been a guest? We’re here, Lord, so feed us. Speak to us. Give us the meal, give us the wine that satisfies. We do not want to be filled with wasted religious activity, for we will see in just a moment how the Lord Jesus responds to wasted religious activity. Help us now as we gather around Your Word in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Our text this morning comes from the Gospel according to John chapter 2, verses 13 through 22. John chapter 2, beginning at verse 13:

The Passover of the Jews was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. In the Temple he found those who were selling oxen and sheep and pigeons, and the money-changers sitting there. And making a whip of cords, He drove them all out of the Temple, with the sheep and oxen. And He poured out the coins of the money-changers and overturned their tables. And He told those who sold the pigeons, ‘Take these things away; do not make my Father’s house a house of trade.’ His disciples remembered that it was written, ‘Zeal for your house will consume me.’

So the Jews said to him, ‘What sign do you show us for doing these things?’ Jesus answered them, ‘Destroy this Temple, and in three days I will raise it up.’ The Jews then said, ‘It has taken forty-six years to build this Temple, and will you raise it up in three days?’ But He was speaking about the Temple of his body. When therefore He was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that He had said this, and they believed the Scripture and the word that Jesus had spoken.

I wonder if you’ve had this experience, perhaps men you can relate. Every once in a while, maybe a few times a year, I’ll realize about half way through the day that my wife is really upset with me and I have no idea why. Have you ever been in that spot, husbands? It’s puzzling. It is very scary. If you know my wife, you know she is a kind, easygoing person, so when she’s upset, it’s unusual. And when I have no clue what I’ve done to cause the situation, there’s only one thing to do, and that is to find out as quickly as I can what I did so I can say “sorry.” Or, in fact, you may want to just do the opposite, just go right to the “sorry” and then find out why. I know I did something, and as soon as I find out what it is, I’m going to feel really bad about it. Because if you don’t find out your reason for being sorry, you will end up being very sorry.

When you know someone who is normally patient, gracious, eager to show love and tenderness, and then that person seems off-the-charts angry, you better pay attention. And if that is true with your wife, your husband, your friends, how much more urgent is the situation when the unusually surprisingly angry person is Jesus. If Jesus were to come into Christ Covenant and be as upset with us as He was on that day, I hope we would all be very desperate to learn why. So make no mistake — Jesus is angry. It doesn’t actually say in the text or in any of the Gospel accounts that He was angry, but that’s what He displays. He’s upset.

You know from the Bible there’s a difference between sinful anger, which is what most of us experience and show, and righteous anger, which is possible. Ephesians 4:26: “Be angry and do not sin.” So if it says “be angry and do not sin” there must be a way to be angry and not sin, though most of us when we are angry, do sin. Come back tonight, talking about the sixth commandment, “do not murder,” and we’ll think together some more about all the times when we are angry and do sin. But here, Jesus is angry and does not sin. He’s not flying off the handle in a fit of rage as we might do, and you can feel that sort of welling up within you and you just want to let it rip out of you, or into someone. That’s not Jesus.
Actually, His anger may actually be premediated. He may have gone into the Temple knowing full well what He would find and displaying this surprising behavior. There is no doubt that He’s upset, and we can see this clearly. Look at verses 15 and 16. A whole series of events; He makes a whip of cords, not something you do when you’re feeling good. And not just the sheep and the oxen, okay, how are you going to get sheep out of the Temple, you need a whip. But you’ll notice it says in verse 15, “He drove them all out of the Temple, with the sheep and the oxen.” All out of the Temple, all the people out of the Temple. It was not just for the animals. He’s getting them all out of the Temple. It says He poured out the coins of the money-changers, so He emptied their bags. Or you can picture a dramatic scene that you’ve seen in the movies of somebody just wiping their arm across the table and everything goes flying off.

And He doesn’t stop there. He gets a whip of cords. He dumps out the money from their bags and then He flips over the tables. I dare say that if some of your children did this, they would be sorry. But there’s a method to Jesus’ apparent madness.

And then He, at the end of verse 16, He orders them all out. “Take them away.” He says specifically to those who sold the pigeons. Why to those who sold the pigeons or the doves? Because you can’t whip the doves out, they’re in cages. And so the sheep and the oxen, they’re on their way out, and then He says to those who have the doves and the pigeons that they’re selling there, “you, too, get out.”

Why was Jesus so upset? Why was He so bothered? Why so dramatic in His response? I hope that when you are reading through the Bible you stop and pause for a moment. Okay, something really significant is going on. To see Jesus this angry, want to know why. You need to understand some of the situation.
We read in verse 13, it’s the Passover. When of the high points of the Jewish calendar where they commemorated their departure from Egypt. Here at the Passover where they would have had throngs of people coming into the Temple. It’s one of the pilgrimage feasts. And so there may have been 400, 500,000 people from all over Judea and Galilee and from all over the Jewish diaspora who have to come by order of Old Testament law to come and present an offering and to make an appearance at these High Holy Days and Passover was one of them. So hundreds and thousands of pilgrims streaming in to the Temple during Passover.
If you’ve studied John’s gospel before, you have noticed that this cleansing or clearing of the Temple is in a very different spot than we see it in the other three gospels, the synoptic gospels they are sometimes called, Matthew, Mark, and Luke, and there is a longstanding debate about the chronology of this event. Because here in John’s gospel it’s at the very beginning of his ministry, it seems to be, and in the other three gospels it comes at the very end, just before his arrest and betrayal, it’s sort of the straw that breaks the proverbial camel’s back. So which is it? Some people say, well, it’s John’s chronology, it happened here in Matthew, Mark, and Luke. It’s not that they were wrong, but they are sort of putting it thematically at the end because it shows how upset they were with Jesus. Other people say the opposite, and say well Matthew, Mark, and Luke have the same thing, and it seems to be really important in the final week of Jesus’ life, so this is probably here just thematically because it fits. And you notice John doesn’t give a specific chronological marker. It is possible that John could be putting this event here and telling it at the beginning of the story even though it happened at the end.

Or, there’s a third option. And that’s to suggest that Jesus did this on two different occasions. That’s a minority opinion, but I think there’s a lot to commend it to you. That Jesus actually cleansed the Temple both at the beginning of His ministry and at the end. There’s no reason it couldn’t have happened twice. Not unusual that it would happen at Passover, since that’s the main time that Jesus would have been in Jerusalem, for He would have had to come with His disciples to present an offering as a good Jew.

It would seem strange that John would place this here at the beginning and put it out of order because John is so careful about noting the different feasts. He does this several times. Passover he mentions here in chapter 2, verse 13. You could go over the chapter 5, verse 1, he mentions another feast of the Jews. He mentions another Passover in John 6:4. In John 7:2 he mentions the Feast of Tabernacles, or Booths. In John 10:22 he mentions the Feast of Dedication. And then in chapter 11:55 he mentions Passover again. So there’s at least three times that he talks about Passover. It seems to be year one, year two, year three of Jesus’ public ministry. Not to say that he couldn’t be doing this out of order; that wouldn’t be a mistake, but it would be strange. He seems to be carefully noting these feasts.

And if you know the account in the other gospels, you’ll remember that they’re not identical. They’re very similar, but they’re not identical. In the other gospels they have Jesus mentioning about a den of robbers, a house of prayer. Only here does it mention the whip of cords.

And then there’s one other reason to think that this happened twice. And that’s because of what we read in Jesus’ arrest and betrayal. You remember in Mark 14, for example, He’s there and it says that some stood up to bear false witness against Him. This is before his crucifixion. And they say “We heard him say ‘I will destroy this Temple that is made with hands, and in three days I will build up another not made with hands.'”

Now you can go back and you can read in Matthew, Mark, and Luke that Jesus does talk about no stone will be left upon another, but that language of “destroy the Temple and in three days I will raise it up” is only found here in this cleansing of the Temple in John chapter 2. Now it’s a false witness at the end of the gospel because Jesus doesn’t actually say “I will destroy it,” we’ll get to that in a moment. He says “You’re going to destroy it and then I will raise it up.” But it seems that this event here at the beginning of Jesus’ ministry is what the scribes and the Chief Priests had in mind when they are repeating it at the end of Jesus’ ministry, even though they repeat it incorrectly, and so bear false witness against Him. All of that to say that this cleansing of the Temple, I think there is good reason to think this is the first, and then the other gospel writers present to us the one that happens at the end of His ministry and it would make sense that the second time around it is the end of Jesus’ ministry.

Now why were there animals here in the Temple? Why were there money-changers here? Well, it’s because of all these pilgrims. You have to come for the Passover feast and you have to present, according to the law, an animal to sacrifice, and if you have to come from miles and miles around, days on foot, it’s a nice benefit to be able to come to the Temple and buy your animal there. You don’t have to know, you know, walk for a week with old Bessie to come up to the Temple, but she’s right there for you. And you have different animals depending upon your differing level of income. If you can afford a beast like a cow or a bull, you do that. Otherwise a sheep or a goat, otherwise the doves and the pigeons for those who are of the lowest income. So you come.

And why then the money-changers? They had to present the census tax. They had to pay taxes, even in the Bible, and they liked paying taxes in the Bible as much as you like paying taxes. There was Roman money that needed to be converted into what was called the Tyrian shekel, T-y-r-a-n, the Tyrian shekel, in order to pay the Temple tax. The census tax was half a shekel as laid out in Exodus chapter 30. So they had to come and they have to do some currency exchange in order to pay this half-shekel Temple tax.

So here you have people who seem to be providing a valuable service—animals for the travelers, currency exchange so they can pay the Temple tax—it makes sense that they would be here in the Temple. So, again, why is Jesus so upset? Why does Jesus turn over tables, make a whip of cords, drive them out?

Well, one, it’s because they were covetous. We read in the other gospel accounts, and He says “you have made this a den of robbers.” And even if He said that some years later, we can safely assume that there’s probably something similar going on here. A den of robbers. So the people who are selling are not just good-natured tradesmen, but they’re cheats. They’re swindlers. It’s a den of robbers and crooks. They’re covetous.

They’re also careless. Notice this is the point to underline here: “Take these things away,” verse 16, “do not make my Father’s house a house of trade.” Now I dare say we have a few people here that work with banks in Charlotte, so it’s not that, Jesus is not saying you’re evil if you work with money, or if you trade things, or if you have a business. That’s not the problem. It’s not a swipe against all trade or commerce or making or exchanging money. At one time the merchants set up across the Kidron Valley just outside of the Temple precincts, and that doesn’t seem to have been a problem. It wasn’t the service that they were providing, it was the place where they were providing it. That’s the contrast: My Father’s house, that is a place for worship, a place for reverence, a place for contemplation, a place for devotion, a place for piety, not a place to make a quick buck.

They were covetous, they were careless. It wasn’t that they were doing the wrong thing, though some of them were doing that, but even more so they were doing it in the wrong place.

Covetous, careless. And Jesus also is upset because they’re callous. They’re callous. What do I mean by that? Well, the sellers and the money-changers undoubtedly set up shop in the Court of the Gentiles. You had the Court of the Gentiles, and you have the court for women, then you have the inner court, and then the Holy of Holies, differing levels where different people could approach the Temple.

And so here, in the largest area of the Temple precincts, which numbered in the acres, there was this Court of the Gentiles, so named because this was the farthest place that Gentiles, non-Jews, could approach. This was an opportunity for Gentiles to get somewhat close to Israel’s God, to draw near to the true God. The Temple was not meant to be a bazaar. It was not supposed to be a kind of primitive stock market. It was supposed to be a holy place where you meet God and a place for prayer. Surely it would not have been lost on the crowds that they were setting up shop in the Court of the Gentiles. This was the only place that the nations could go to get near to Israel’s God, and now there’s no room for them there because God’s people, the Jews, are using it for a glorified currency exchange. Jesus is upset because they’re covetous, because they’re careless, and because they’re callous. This is not the place. You could be doing this somewhere else. This is my Father’s house, and you’ve made it into a market place.

So what does this mean, then, for us? Some churches have coffee shops. Some churches have a bookstore. I’d like us to have a little spot, little book stall, little book nook or bookstore. Is that what Jesus is condemning? Any big church in Charlotte that sells a cup of coffee after a service or sells a book or a trinket? Well, we must beware of danger, but that’s not why Jesus is upset. Besides, as we’ll see in a moment, we don’t worship in a Temple. This is not a Temple. Jesus is the Temple and then we as His body are the Temple. Calvin said the same arguments do not apply in the present day to our buildings for public worship. There is application, but it’s not a 1-to-1 correspondence. There is something unique here about the Temple. What we gather in for public worship would have been more like the synagogues where they gathered for their corporate worship. This is the Temple.

But it still does have some application for us. As always, the heart of the matter is the heart of the matter. And at the heart of this offense were two things that always made Jesus angry. Two things we see that always upset Jesus.

Number one: Jesus was always upset when religiosity became a veneer for greed. The Temple authorities had amassed great wealth. Some scholars argue, remember I said that there used to be the traders and the money-changers would be on the other side of the Kidron Valley as you approached the Temple? Well, some scholars argue that under Caiaphas the High Priest, he was the one who said “Hey, look, we could really make some money here in the Temple. Do you see that? So you see what they got going on? If we could bring this into the Temple, we have a way under our auspices to make a little coin here.” And so he brings it in under the veneer or religiosity. It’s a perfect cover. “We’re here to provide a service.” Yeah, every company, every business is here to serve. “We’re here to provide a valuable service for you. We’re here to help you in your worship for God. We’re here to provide the currency you need for the tax. We’re here to give you the animals. We’re here to worship God and just provide a nice service for you.” Right.

It was a veneer. That’s why Jesus said a “den of robbers.” Their first thought was not “how can I serve these people?” You know how you could have served them? You could have given them a cow. You could have set up shop someplace out, Jerusalem’s got lots of other places. They have a market place. You could have done it right there. No, you set up shop and you establish this here under the auspices of the Temple authorities and under the Sanhedrin because it’s a way to make a buck and to do it with the veneer of religious faith.

It still happens today. Any of you come here to be seen? Because it’s good, it’s good to be a churchman in the community. Is that why any of you are here? It’s good for business to be known. Maybe you can make a few contacts. Maybe it’s good to rub shoulders with people and know what’s going on. You’re here to make connections that will be good for your bottom line. If so, shame on you. Shame on anyone who thinks, “I come to church so I can get a good face in this community and so I can make some money.” And shame on me, as your pastor, if I ever speak at a conference or write a book pretending to be something that I’m not just because people will pay me for it. Jesus has little patience for religiosity that becomes a veneer for covetousness and greed.

Here’s the other thing that upsets Jesus: When worship becomes trivialized and ingrown. Trivialized and ingrown. Do you see what was happening here? God’s people were manifesting a profound disregard for the nations. Jesus will say at the other cleansing, in Mark’s account, that “This is a house of prayer for all nations. You’ve made it into a stock market, and it’s a house of prayer for all nations.” Do you see Jesus saying you are missing the vision behind this Temple? This Temple is not so you can just come together and make some money and come with your people and keep everybody else out. That was never the vision of the Temple.

1 Kings Chapter 8, this is at the completion of the first Solomonic Temple. We read “likewise, when a foreigner who is not of your people Israel comes from a far country for Your name’s sake, for they shall hear of Your great name, and Your mighty hand, and Your outstretched arm, when he comes and prays toward this house, here in heaven Your dwelling place, and do according to all for which the foreigner calls to you, in order that all the peoples of the earth may know Your name and fear you.” That was at the very dedication of the Temple. The idea is the nations are going to hear about your God, Israel. They’re going to know.

You’ve heard the distinction before, roughly speaking in the Old Testament, it was “come and see,” and in the New Testament it’s “go and tell.” Now, it’s only roughly because Jesus also says “come and see,” but it was a sort of “here, the nations are going to hear about the glory of Israel and then they’re going to come and they’re going to want to check it out.” In the New Testament it’s “you go tell them and then you bring them and they check it out.” The idea was even Gentiles are going to hear about the God of Israel and they’re going to come and they’re going to come to the Temple. The nations are going to come and they’re going to pray to this God and he’s going to listen to them.

This was the vision in Isaiah 56:7: “These I will bring to my holy mountain and make them joyful in my house of prayer. Their burnt offerings and their sacrifices will be accepted on My altar, for My house shall be called a house of prayer for all people.”

And you know what had happened in first century Judaism? The Temple for so many had become a Jewish nationalist symbol. It’s a place where Gentile worship was obstructed rather than expected. And so who cares if we have cattle lowing and sheep bleating and pigeons flapping and coins clanking in the Court of the Gentiles? Why do we care if the Gentiles come here? We’ve got business to do. We’ve got stuff to take care of. We’ve got money to make. Let us always be on our guard that the House of God is a house of prayer for all nations, all nations.

I am proud to be an American, and every time I’m at a sporting event and the “Star-Spangled Banner” plays, I put my hand over my heart and I sing it. And sometimes, I do, I get teary and I didn’t even serve in the military, I haven’t done anything. I’m proud to sing it.

The banner that flies over the church of Jesus Christ is not the Stars and Stripes, it’s the cross, it’s the cross of Jesus Christ. And we must always make it clear this is not a church for American people, or for white people, or for Republican people, or for middle-class people… It is a church for Jesus people, it’s a church for Jesus people. And we have to do everything we can to embrace it. Without, you know, you don’t have to deny any of those things. But to embrace it and make sure everyone who walks through these doors understands that’s who we are, that’s what we’re about, that’s the banner that’s waving over this church. It is the cross of Jesus Christ, high and lifted up. It is the cross when lifted up, Jesus said just like the snake in the wilderness, all will come. The nations will come. The nations will stream. Let this be a house of prayer for all nations, and let them know when they come in that that’s who we are and that’s what defines us.

Of course Jesus was upset here in the Temple. Their religion had become heartless, careless, thoughtless, ruthless. It wasn’t about prayer. It wasn’t about bearing witness to the nations. What do they care about the nations coming? What do they care about people who are different than themselves? It wasn’t about reverential worship. It was about making a quick buck and it was about getting through today’s ritual with as minimal discomfort and inconvenience as possible.

So do I think Jesus is upset if we sell a cup of coffee or sell a book in a church? No. Do I think Jesus is angry with churches in this country and wherever they exist where people come in with no thought of anyone else and come in with the only thought in their head “how can I get through my weekly ritual as quickly and as painlessly as possible?” Yeah, I don’t think Jesus is happy with that. With religiosity as a veneer for greed, and with an approach to worship that trivializes what we’re doing here. The disciples remember, you read in verse 17, “zeal for Thy house hath eaten Me up;” that’s how I learned it in the King James.

Of course, we’re not identical to Jesus. Calvin says we don’t all grab a whip because we’re not granted the same power or given the same commission. But we should all burn with zeal as Christ did, consumed with zeal. And there’s probably a play on words here. It means both Jesus was consumed as he was burning with zeal, and it means that the zeal that He showed would, in the end, be what consumed Him, because they would kill Him for it.

I wonder what consumes your passion. For how many of it could it be said “zeal for the house of God hath eaten them up”? Is that what consumes us? Or is our all-consuming passion for the gods of food and family and football?

This incident marks the first direct assault on the spiritual bankruptcy of what had become of so much of first century Judaism. And the Jews come then in verse 18 to interrogate Him, likely coming from the Temple authorities or from the Sanhedrin, the people who had the most to lose. And they ask, “What sign do you show us for doing these things?” They’re saying, “Would you give us a mark of your divine legitimation? What gives you the right? Who are you to come in here with a whip of cords, messing the whole place up, turned over tables, who do you think you are?”

Not the first step towards repentance. There is no sense that they took an honest self-assessment or a time of self-reflection to say, “Well, I wonder if there’s something we have to learn here.” When you have a soft heart, you take these hard moments and you have a moment of self-reflection and say “Okay, that was hard, but what do I have to think of?” When your heart is hard, like these Jewish leaders were, they just jump right to “Hey, Jesus, what gives you the right? Who do you think you are?” And Jesus says “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” And they don’t understand, nobody understands at this point. They say “Three days? Come on. This has been 46 years in the making.” The first Temple was built in Solomon’s time, then destroyed by the Babylonians, and then later rebuilt by Zerubbabel, and then renovated by Herod, that’s what they’re referring to, these massive renovations under Herod, which would have been completed just prior to Jesus’ public ministry. So this is fresh in their mind. “We just got this thing done,” and truth be told there probably still would have been work to do. “But 40 and 6 years it has taken us to build this Temple, and you,” you can look at in the Greek, the placement is emphatic, “and you in three days will raise it up?”

Jesus’ response, when he says “destroy,” notice He’s not making a promise of what He will do. That’s why the Chief Priests bore false witness against him when they said He said “I will destroy it.” You notice, He doesn’t say “I will destroy.” He says, “Destroy this Temple,” in other words it’s not a promise of what Jesus will do, but it’s a prophetic word about what they are doing. Jesus is saying “Look, go right ahead with your wickedness, with your unbelief. Keep doing the stuff that you’re doing, and you will destroy this Temple.” Yeah, because God will visit you. And sure enough, you know your history, you know that in 70 A.D. the Romans came in and the Temple was destroyed. But Jesus is talking about more than the earthly Temple that will be destroyed, he’s also thinking of His body, which is why He says in three days I will raise it up, be raised from the grave.

Do you see what Jesus is saying? In this first miracle last week, the wedding at Cana of Galilee, and now in this first confrontation in the Temple. In absolute stark terms, Jesus is making clear to all who have ears to hear, that the worship of God’s people is going to be centered exclusively around Him. Jesus is the new Temple. His death will be the lamb to fulfill their sacrifices and His resurrection will be the Temple to fulfill their worship. The disciples would get it later. The Jewish leaders sure didn’t get it now. They said “We want a sign.” Do you get the irony of it? Jesus has given them a massive sign. “Hey, Jesus, give us a sign. Who are you?” Jesus could have said “I just got a whip of cords, drove everyone out of the Temple, turned over the tables, and you need another sign of who I am?”

There was a prophecy in Zachariah 14 that announced on the day of the Lord and the coming day of the kingdom and the Messiah when he would arrive that there would no longer be a trader, that is a t-r-a-d-e-r, one who trades and sells, a merchant in the house of the Lord. This was in fulfillment of prophecies like that. You don’t know who is among you? They wanted a sign but they already had the sign. Jesus will be the new Temple. And just as with the old Temple, worship centered around that building, so now in the new covenant, worship will center around Jesus. You were not a good Jew if you did not come and make your pilgrimage to the Temple. You were not a good Jew if you didn’t come and do your sacrifices at the Temple. You were not a good Jew if you didn’t sing songs about the Temple of God on Mount Zion, His holy hill. And now Jesus is going to fulfill all that. As in the just the same way you will not be a spiritual Jew. You will not be, in terms we would later use, a Christian, if you don’t focus on Me, if you don’t worship Me, if all of your life and worship does not revolve around Me.

The Temple was a great blessing to God’s people throughout the whole Old Testament. It was God’s idea. He was going to dwell there in the Temple, not made by human hands. But over time the Temple became a sort of talisman, a sort of good luck charm, and God’s people were often saying “Well, but the Temple, the Temple.” And they didn’t believe the prophets like Jeremiah when he warned of judgment because they’d say “well, we have the Temple, we have Temple, what could go wrong?” And Jesus wants to make clear who the real Temple is, how real worship happens. And so it’s possible in our day we can have the same sort of talisman, maybe it’s a church building, maybe it’s “But, hey, I dressed up,” maybe it’s the offering, “I put something in the offering, I have a Bible, I prayed a prayer.” Jesus says “Have you come to the Temple? Have you really come to the Temple?”

God hates any religion that does not have Jesus at the center. Which means we have to ask ourselves uncomfortable questions. Are you putting on a show? Are you trying to fool your friends, your family, your parents, your kids? Are you counting on God being pleased with mere religious activity? “Hey, there’s a lot of people who don’t even go to church, I go to church.” What is your religion really about? Is it about Jesus? Or about something else? Every other center to our faith besides Jesus Christ crucified for sinners, raised again on the third day for our justification, every other center deserves to be driven out with a whip of cords.

Let us pray. Our Father in heaven, perhaps this has been a hard sermon, maybe even sounding like a harsh sermon. But we do not apologize when the mood of the message fits the mood of the text. For surely those people in the Temple thought Jesus was overreacting, thought Jesus was a little too strong. Oh, Father, we plead that you would grab ahold of our hearts. We do not want to be those who stand before you on the last day and say “Lord, Lord,” and you say “I never knew you.” With all of our religious words, all of our religious activity, all of our good Christian vocabulary and activity, and yet no heart. No real worship. Lord, we pray that you would cleanse the temple of our hearts, you would cleanse out whatever is unclean, whatever is hypocrisy, whatever is duplicitous, whatever supplants Jesus Christ and His cross as preeminent. We thank you for your grace, your severe tender mercy, and that Jesus himself is our cornerstone. We pray in His name. Amen.