John 2: 15-16.
1. Jesus was concerned with sick religion.
a. His concern was reflected when He drove the money changers out of the temple,
b. Much of Judaism had become sick,
c. The Great Physician sought to bring healing.
2. Religion can get sick.
a. Not all things under the name "religion" are good. What did Jesus see in the temple that caused such aggressive action?
I. The Lost Sense of Awe and Respect for God
1. The Jews had lost the profound sense of awe and respect for God (John 2: 14).
a. Look carefully at what Jesus observed when He visited the temple.
b. Many Jewish patrons were coming and going.
c. They had little respect for what should take place in the temple communion with God.
d. They bought and sold animals, and they exchanged money as if the court of the Gentiles was a marketplace.
e. God had intended the temple to be a meeting place for human beings and Himself. He had not intended the temple to be a den of thieves. He wanted it to be a place of prayer.
Ellen G. White describes what Jesus saw. "A great number of sacrifices were offered at the time of the Passover, and the sales at the temple were very large. The consequent confusion indicated a noisy cattle market rather than the sacred temple of God.
There could be heard sharp bargaining, the lowing of cattle, the bleating of sheep, the cooing of doves, mingled with the chinking of coin and angry disputation. So great was the confusion that the worshipers were disturbed, and the words addressed to the Most High were drowned in the uproar that invaded the temple. The Jews were exceedingly proud of their piety. They rejoiced over their temple, and regarded a word spoken in its disfavor as blasphemy; they were very rigorous in the performance of ceremonies connected with it; but the love of money had overruled their scruples. They were scarcely aware how far they had wandered from the original purpose of the service instituted by God Himself" (Desire of Ages,p. 155).
2. Christians often can lose their sense of awe and reverence for God. As people go about the routine of Bible study and church attendance, they can lose sight of reverence for God.
a. The Lord, His church, and His Book can become rather ordinary objects and routines. The Lord Himself can be viewed as a common person. (1) This happened with Eli's wicked sons (1 Sam. 2:12-17).
b. The anger of Jesus is aroused when He sees a lost sense of awe and reverence for His Father,
c. Religion gets sick when the sense of the wonder of God departs from a person or a group of people.
II. The Lost Sense of the Cost of Religion
1. The Jews had lost sight of the cost of serving the Lord.
a. The presentation of the animals in temple sacrifices represented a commitment on the part of the worshiper.
(1) God wanted the Jews to present the best animal from their flocks. This meant that they gave their best to God.
b. When Jesus walked into the temple, He saw that religion had been made cheap. People were told, "Leave your animals at home, and buy one in the temple" (John 2:16).
c. Purchasing the animal from the temple merchants cheapened the sacrificial system. This made the Master angry.
2. Modern Christians have lost sight of the cost of commitment.
"With searching glance, Christ takes in the scene before Him as He stands upon the steps of the temple court. With prophetic eye He looks into futurity, and sees not only years, but centuries and ages. He sees how priests and rulers will turn the needy from their right, and forbid that the gospel shall be preached to the poor. He sees how the love of God will be concealed from sinners, and men will make merchandise of His grace" (Desire of Ages, p. 157.
a. Following Christ and belonging to a church have become cheap,
b. Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the great German pastor from World War II, said that when Jesus calls a man to follow Him, He calls him to die to himself. Nothing short of total commitment will satisfy the Savior.
III. The Lost Sense of the Outsiders
1. The Jews had lost the sense of need of the Gentiles.
a. The place where the money changers and merchants transacted business was in the court of the Gentiles.
(1) This was a place within the temple precinct where Gentiles, outsiders, could come and learn of the Lord.
(2) Most of the Jews in Jesus' time were not concerned about Gentiles.
(3) They were concerned about rituals but not for the mission God had given them. This mission was to be a blessing to the nations.
2. Modern Christians can lose the sense of the outsider.
a. The church can easily become an exclusive club with a preoccupation for its membership,
b. Religion gets sick when people turn inward and do not look outward for the sinners.
1. How is the health of your Christian expression?
2. If you do not mind, let's have a check-up.
3. Does the greatness and grandeur of God thrill you?
4. Or are you taking shortcuts? Are you asking for the minimal requirements?
5. What about your concern for others? Let's keep our religion healthy and growing. MB