IMG_6677

But the Jewish leaders demanded, “What are you doing? If God gave  you authority to do this, show us a miraculous sign to prove it.” 

“All right,” Jesus replied. “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.”

“What!” they exclaimed. “It has takeforty-six years to build this Temple, and you can rebuild it in three 

days?”

But when Jesus said “this temple,” he meant his own body. After he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered he had said this, and they believed both the Scriptures and what Jesus had said.

Yes, it’s true. Jesus did it. Jesus did the reality that the Temple is only pointing to. He died and raised from the dead and he is the Temple who forgives all sin for all time. He is the intersection between heaven and earth. And we are too. You and I are the Temple. We are the intersection between heaven and earth as we follow his way.

Jesus is not about hatred. What I see and read today is a lot of hatred by those who think others are haters. Hating haters is hatred. No one is innocent and pure in all of this. This is why seeking the good of other people becomes the way we are a living sacrifice for the living God. As Christians we live in the real world which is God’s world, after all. We have access to the powers of heaven available to us now to be a people of gracious kindness. In this day and age, that is indeed revolutionary.

What is world needs right now more than anything else is you. the living Temple of Jesus.

ME

When are you at your best as a Temple?

SALVADORAN ARCHBISHOP OSCAR ROMERO

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!” 

Jesus goes right to core. This sacrifice system is corrupt. It is not about remembering God saves his people. It is the whole Temple and the people who keep the system going and all it represents,  using the Temple, not as a sign of freedom and not as the place of God’s presence, but instead a place of burden and hardship.

Now, it’s too easy to simply say well isn’t that what is happening today? Not as much religion, but politics. Washington and the politicians are taking away our freedom. Or politicians are bringing burden and hardship onto the poor. We hear words and phrases being thrown around like “social justice”, as opposed to what, just plain justice? Islamophobia, homophobia. Gender this and gender that. “Hate” seems to be what binds people together.

It’s time to stop and listen. Those on the left, on the right, at the center….Listen. I like the way

Archbishop Oscar Romero said it years ago.

“How easy it is to denounce structural injustice, institutionalized violence, social sin. And it is true, this sin is everywhere, but where are the roots of this social sin? In the heart of every human being. Present-day society is a sort of anonymous world in which no one is willing to admit guilt and everyone is responsible.

Because of this, salvation begins with the human person, with human dignity, with saving every person from sin.. Individually there are among us here no two sinners alike. Each one has committed his or her own shameful deeds, and yet we want to cast our guilt on the other and hide our

own sin. I must take off my mask; I, too, am one of them, and I need to beg God’s pardon

because I have offended God and society. This is the call of Christ.”

There is no one who is pure and without sin. Remember Jesus’ words to a crowd screaming for social justice?

“Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.”

We don’t need an overhaul of the Temple and the ways of the world. We need forgiveness. We need Jesus.

ME

What sins am I wrestling with lately?

flagrum

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. 

Here we are told Jesus made a whip from rope. In the Bible language the word is, pfragellion. This would be a whip that had stones and bone tied in it to make it extra nasty. Like a frag grenade. Let’s just say Jesus is up for the task.

So, Jesus chases the bankers and all the animals out of the Temple court. Like flipping over a craps table in Vegas, that would be a bit confusing. Whose money is whose?

Basically Jesus just stopped the whole Temple sacrifice system, for a short time. A disaster. And

a message.

What is Jesus getting at? Well, it appears the Temple is no longer the intersection between heaven and earth.

ME

“I can trust Jesus with anger. I can’t trust you or me with it.” What does this mean to you?

Temple steps from court

Temple steps from court

 

In the Temple area he saw merchants selling cattle, sheep, and doves for sacrifices; he also saw dealers at tables exchanging foreign money. 

It’s Passover. The greatest celebration of the greatest event in the life of God’s people. God frees his people from slavery and brings them to the Promise Land. They remember this every year as if it is happening all over again. The highlight is to sacrifice sheep like they sacrifice at the original Passover where the blood of the sheep on the door frame is a sign that  God’s people live here and the angel of death passes over this house.

Now, the Passover is big business. Estimates are that as many as 250,000 sheep are sacrificed at Passover in Jerusalem. But, you didn’t bring your own sheep. It is too difficult to travel and sheep could be stolen or attacked by wild animals along the way.

So, sheep are sold at the Temple for the sacrifice. You can’t use Roman money, however. It is considered unclean so you have to exchange for Temple money. For a fee, of course. If you are poor you could also borrow money to purchase doves which were cheaper. Still as much as 40 day’s wages!

This looks like Jeremiah’s prophecy coming true.

Jesus has seen enough.

ME

Christians have been complaining about the commercialization of Christmas for about 300 years! Why does this bug us?

John 2

It was nearly time for the Jewish Passover celebration, so Jesus went to Jerusalem.  

Passover is the number one festival of the year for Jesus and the Jewish people. Anyone who could afford it would travel to Jerusalem and celebrate there. Why Jerusalem? This is where the Temple is located. The Temple is the center of worship and music, politics and government, the center of the nation’s economy, the center of the nation’s animals, the center of everything.

Jerusalem Temple

Jerusalem Temple

We have no modern equivalent. It would be like the Temple would be all of our national symbols wrapped up into one. The White House, Capital Building and Supreme Court, throw in Wall Street and Nashville and Hollywood, mix in animals from all the ranches and farms around the nation, and  put them all together with the nation’s largest cathedrals and churches, and we still wouldn’t compare. Why? The Temple is where God promised to live in the midst of his people. The Temple represents the nation. The intersection between where God dwells, heaven, and where his people dwell, earth. The Temple is everything to the Jewish people.

But, the prophet’s of the Old Testament warned this absolute “Temple is the center of everything” could be a problem. If you aren’t following God.

For instance, listen to Jeremiah.

Jeremiah 7

“Do you really think you can steal, murder, commit adultery, lie, and burn incense to Baal and all those other new gods of yours, and then come here and stand before me in my Temple and chant, “We are safe!”—only to go right back to all those evils again? Don’t you yourselves admit that this Temple, which bears my name, has become a den of thieves? Surely I see all the evil going on there. I, the LORD, have spoken!” 

Oh, Oh…

ME

Where do you think the center of power is in our country today?

priceychamp5John 2

When the chief steward tasted the water that had turned into wine (he didn’t know where it had come from, but the servants who had drawn the water knew), he called the bridegroom. ‘What people normally do’, he said, ‘is to serve the good wine first, and then the worse stuff when people have had plenty to drink. But you’ve kept the good wine till now!’

We are learning this is just like Jesus. He can transform any situation, any life. The transformation from water to wine is of course meant by John to signify the effect that Jesus can have, can still have today, on people’s lives. He came, as he says later, that we might have life in all its fullness.

John 10

The (devil’s) purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life. 

This is who we worship today. The one who can take anything bad we are facing in life and somehow we are going to be fine, eventually. It’s all going to work out. We would do well to remember this the next time we get anxious, the next time we are ready to give up. The creator of the universe has a purpose for our lives. Rich and satisfying.

If you aren’t there, yet, don’t worry, just take Mary’s words seriously. You want a rich and satisfying life?

“Do whatever he tells you.”

I mean think about it. Since this is a wedding I will go with the example of champagne. Most people will start with a couple of bottles of Dom at the table, as in Dom Perignon, about $140 at Costco. Then when everyone is getting a little happy, you pull out the Andre, about 5 bucks a bottle.

I know, if you aren’t a champagne drinker, you might not be able to tell the difference between the two, but Bible people are wine connoisseurs. They know their wine.

Jesus could have smoothed things over with 900 bottles of Andre, but he can’t help but bring the best. After all, the one who creates the water in the first place can turn it into anything he wants. Jesus isn’t cheap, he’s extravagant with his blessing. Dom Perignon it is! But, probably the most expensive Dom, so now we are looking at 25 K a bottle! That’s what the most expensive Dom Perignon will wet you back. You have kept the best wine until last, all 25.5 million dollars worth of wedding wine.

Ah, thanks Jesus…

ME

Why is math a handy tool to have when we think of the extravagance of Jesus? Hint: He created math, too!

Epiphany-2-Wedding-at-Cana-He-Qi-Vanderbilt

John 2

Six stone water-jars were standing there, ready for use in the Jewish purification rites. Each held about twenty or thirty gallons. ‘Fill the jars with water,’ said Jesus to the servants. And they filled them, right up to the brim. ‘Now draw some out’, he said, ‘and take it to the chief steward.’ They did so.  

The water-jars are used for Jewish purification rites. A sign that you are made clean. Well, now the sign is so much more than than that. God is doing a new thing from within the old Jewish system, where he is bringing purification to Israel and the whole world in a new way. And don’t miss the hint about water turned to wine, which will be turned into blood later, flowing at the cross, taking away the sins of the word. Talk about purification!

But, again, let’s not get ahead of ourselves…So, we have six jugs at 30 gallons a piece. That’s 180 gallons…or over 900 bottles of wine. Think this party’s going anywhere? Mercy! Someone has come to the rescue.

ME

Our lives are meant to be extravagant when Jesus is the source of the extravagance. What does this mean to you?

whatever he tells you

John 2

On the third day there was a wedding at Cana in Galilee. Jesus’ mother was there, and Jesus and his disciples were also invited to the wedding. The wine ran out. Jesus’ mother came over to him. ‘They haven’t got any wine!’ she said. 

All right, mother,’ replied Jesus, ‘but what’s that got to do with you and me? My time hasn’t come yet.’ His mother spoke to the servants. ‘Do whatever he tells you,’ she said. 

Here we start seeing hints to the treasure. Why is the third day mentioned? Think about the resurrection that occurs later. On the third day.

Now we have arrived in Cana. A small village near Nazareth. For a wedding. What is the significance of a wedding? Another hint. According to John, who also wrote the Book of Revelation, heaven and earth will become one and it will be like a great wedding feast for God’s people.

Revelation 21

And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven like a bride beautifully dressed for her husband.

So, we arrive in Cana for the wedding. This is a social highlight of the year for villages. You invite as many people as you can. Here we see people from Cana and Nazareth attending, including Jesus and his followers, and that includes his new disciple Nathanael, who is from Cana. Jesus’ family is also there. Here we are introduced to his mother, Mary, for the first time in the Gospel of John.

Mary is only mentioned here and once more in John. At the cross. The ultimate sign where heaven and earth intersect. So, Mary is at the bookends of the wonders of Jesus, present at this moment in Cana, which John will tells us is the first sign, and at the crucifixion, the culmination.

But, let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Back to the wedding. They have already run out of wine. This is a disaster. You invite villages of people, you have to have enough food and drink to last. Weddings could go on for a week! No wonder they are the social highlight! But, if you run out of wine you will be shamed in a shaming culture like first century Israel. This is a major curse on the bride and groom. What a way to start their new life together. But Mary knows something about Jesus.

They have run out of wine!

Jesus says, OK mom, I get it. What do you want me to do? Run down to the corner liquor store?

Well, not exactly that, but Jesus knows there is something else up. No one gets to force his hand in bringing in God’s Kingdom for good. The ultimate intersection. Not even mom. But, we are seeing the strange new world Jesus brings with him. Compassion in an unusual situation. Jesus can do something about it. Mary knows something is coming. She tells the waiters, “Do whatever he tells you.” That is sound advice.

ME

How does Jesus saving a married couple the shame of a big social faux pas sit with you as his first big public miracle?

Treasure map

John 1

“How do you know about me?” Nathanael asked.

Jesus replied, “I could see you under the fig tree before Philip found you.” Then Nathanael exclaimed, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God—the King of Israel!” Jesus asked him, “Do you believe this just because I told you I had seen you under the fig tree? You will see greater things than this.” Then he said, “I tell you the truth, you will all see heaven open and the angels of God going up and down on the Son of Man, the one who is the stairway between heaven and earth.”

The Gospel of John is like a treasure hunt. John even gives us big clues to the treasure. He calls them signs. Like Jesus says to Nathanael, the signs are seen, with a little faith, as the angels of God are going up and coming down at the place where Jesus is.

Author, NT Wright says, “The signs are the moments when heaven is opened, when the transforming power of God’s love bursts in to the present world. The whole point of the ‘signs’ is that they are moments when heaven and earth intersect with each other.”

In John’s gospel we are are going to see great clues to the great treasure that is to come, and many hints along the way.

ME

What are some ways Jesus speaks of treasure?

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John 1
Jesus looked at him and said, “You are Simon, the son of John. You will be called Cephas.” (“Cephas” means “Peter.”)

So Andrew brings Simon to Jesus. He invites Simon to come and see. Then Jesus does the rest. We are called to connect people to Jesus. We call them, people of peace.

According to Jesus, people of peace are people we know who are open to us. People who like us and listen to us. People who welcome us into their lives. It isn’t always the case, but for Andrew this means his brother.

It can be your brother, your friend, you neighbor, someone at work. Remember when we leave our lifeguard station, we are lifeguards looking for those who need help and who would welcome our rescue. We know what it is like to have the power, the security, the joy of having Jesus in our lives. Enough for us to keep coming back to Jesus. Enough to keep hearing him call our name.

Because this is what Jesus does when he rescues us. He gives us our identity. Our name. Now we know we are not just people who need to be rescued. We are sons and daughters of the King of the Universe and God wants his family to expand. God wants to rescue everyone and he wants to restore their lives and give all a fresh start. It begins with Jesus saying come and see through you and me.

ME

“We share the compassion of Jesus with everyone, we share the gospel with those who are receptive.” What does this mean to you?