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Zeal for His Father's House

John 2:13-25

Rev. Kurt Hering

Lent 3, series B
Christ Lutheran-Elkhart, and Faith Lutheran-Hugoton  
Kansas

Play MP3 of this sermon

Sun, Mar 8, 2015 

Preaching to the saints of the Lutheran Church at Christ-Elkhart and Faith-Hugoton in Kansas since February 8, 2015. All sermons prior to that date were preached either at Trinity Lutheran Church-Layton or First Lutheran Church-Tooele, Utah.

We get but a little glimpse of that fury in today’s Gospel account. Why does our Lord Jesus pick this place, this time, this circumstance to give us this insight?

We are inclined to home in on the money angle. And certainly it is obvious that our Lord is angry that His Father’s servants are taking advantage of the people and cheating them out of their hard-earned money.

But exponentially more heinous, these religious leaders are cheating the children of God out of the inheritance He desires to give them through His Son—the Crucified.

To hear this sermon preached at Christ Lutheran-Elkhart, KS and Faith Lutheran-Hugoton, KS for The Third Sunday in Lent, "Zeal for His Father's House," click on the MP3 audio link provided above. The audio begins with the Old Testament reading, Exodus 20:1–17. The sermon begins at the 12:40 point of the mp3 file.

A servant of the Word and His folk,

Pastor Hering

Graphic: Purification of the Temple, detail, by Raymond Balze, ca.1850s.

For those of you who prefer to read or read along while listening, the preaching manuscript follows below.

Nota bene: Sermons are meant to be heard. Some points from the manuscript are explained and filled out during the preaching, so you will need to listen to the audio file to get the full message.

TEXT: 13The Passover of the Jews was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. 14In the temple he found those who were selling oxen and sheep and pigeons, and the money-changers sitting there. 15And 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. 16And he told those who sold the pigeons, “Take these things away; do not make my Father’s house a house of trade.” 17His disciples remembered that it was written, “Zeal for your house will consume me.”

John 2:13-17

Who is that man? Who does he think he is? Is he possessed, or what?

And it is not just the Jews who are surprised and offended by this Jesus.

Even those who have come to terms with a suffering and crucified Jesus are confused, if not upset about this Jesus. Isn’t He all about love, and grace, and forgiveness, and tolerance?

Certainly. But His love for the children of God includes righteous indignation and, yes, hatred, for anything that would separate a single child of God from the love of His Father. Such is the Son of God’s zeal for His Father’s house.

For what is His Father’s house if not all the children He has gathered to hear His Word, to be received into His kingdom—His household?

So [Paul & Silas] said to [the jailer], “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household.” Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house. And he took them the same hour of the night and washed their stripes. And immediately he and all his family were baptized. 34 Now when he had brought them into his house, he set food before them; and he rejoiced, having believed in God with all his household. Acts 16:31-34

Grandpa Greg is like that jailer, bringing his household, exhorting his own dear daughter and son-in-law to bring little (well, not so little) Saul to be baptized into the household of God.

And Greg—and every one of you—can be sure that Jesus, the only begotten Son of God, is zealous for you.

You have heard it said, “hell hath no fury like a woman scorned?” Hell IS the fury of the Father scorned.

We get but a little glimpse of that fury in today’s Gospel account. Why does our Lord Jesus pick this place, this time, this circumstance to give us this insight?

We are inclined to home in on the money angle. And certainly it is obvious that our Lord is angry that His Father’s servants are taking advantage of the people and cheating them out of their hard-earned money.

But exponentially more heinous, these religious leaders are cheating the children of God out of the inheritance He desires to give them through His Son—the Crucified.

“It is impossible that no offenses should come, but woe to him through whom they do come! It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were thrown into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones.” Luke 17:2-3

So, you see, Jesus’ zeal for His Father’s house, His righteous anger, is not provoked by profiteering even fractionally as much as it is by those who would separate one like little Saul here from the love of God which is in Him.

Thanks be to God, and to the faithful parents and grandparents God has provided, today we have been blessed with the opportunity to Baptize Saul Xavier into the kingdom of heaven and the family of the one true God—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

Some—even many—Christians would say it is a waste of time and even downright blasphemy to Baptize such a little one.

Some—even many—Christians tend to treat the Baptism of such a little one as some kind of lucky charm that will keep them from all harm or magic bullet that will defeat all the assaults of the evil one.

God’s Word and Luther’s Small Catechism [LSB, p. 325] speak to and teach against both of those errors, as well as to us today as we have brought another little one into the kingdom of heaven, and he goes forth into the wilderness of this world amidst the assaults of the evil one.

To the first:

• “Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me.” [Psalm 5:15];

• How can water do such great things? Certainly not just water, but the word of God in and with the water does these things [i.e. works forgiveness of sins, rescues from death and the devil, and gives eternal salvation], along with faith which trusts this word of God in the water. For without God’s word the water is plain water and no Baptism. But with the word of God it is a Baptism, that is, a life-giving water, rich in grace. and a washing of new birth in the Holy Spirit, as St. Paul says in Titus, chapter three: He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life. This is a trustworthy saying.”[Titus 3:5-8]

To the second:

• “Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved,” [Mark 16:16];

• What does such baptizing with water indicate? It indicates that the old Adam in us should by daily contrition and repentance be drowned and die with all sins and evil desires, and that a new man should daily emerge and arise to live before God in righteousness and purity forever.

Where is this written? St. Paul writes in six: “We were therefore buried with Him by baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. [Romans 6:4]

• “We are buried with Christ by Baptism into death, that, like as He was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.” [Romans 6:4]

If you have ever flown commercially you have received the following instructions in case of an in flight emergency.

In the event that the oxygen level in the main cabin becomes unstable, oxygen masks will drop in front of every passenger. Passengers are to take them, secure them to their heads using the elastic band and breathe through the masks normally. Passengers are instructed to make sure their masks are on first before assisting other passengers or children. In the event that a life vest might be necessary, passengers are told that underneath each seat is a life vest, which can be inflated by pulling a colored tab. The vests double as flotation devices when needed.

Why? Because if you, the adult and guardian of the child, are not securely connected to the oxygen supply, you may well feint or even expire before you have been able to help the child.

This is instructive for us in Baptism as well. Why? Because Baptism saves us by connecting us to the source of life in much the same way.

In Baptism, you are not only forgiven your sins, you are delivered into the kingdom of heaven by being connected to Jesus through the ongoing flow of God’s grace in the preaching and teaching and worship liturgy of His Word and Sacrament in the rescue the ship of God’s Church here on earth. If you, the adult and guardian of the child are not securely connected to the ongoing flow of God’s grace in His Church here on earth, not only might your faith feint or expire, so might you. And then how is your child going to remain connected to God and who is going to see to it that you dear child receives the grace needed for faith unto eternal life?

God’s zeal doesn’t end at the Baptismal font. He is zealous to keep the Baptized connected to His Word. What is true of the marriage of man and wife is even more true of the child united to Christ in the bride of His Church. “What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.” Mark 10:9

So, with all this in mind, hear again these words from our Holy Gospel today.

18So the Jews said to him, “What sign do you show us for doing these things?” 19Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” 20The Jews then said, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and will you raise it up in three days?” 21But he was speaking about the temple of his body. 22When 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.

Now that’s zeal that makes His temple cleansing look tame.

The same zeal that took our Lord to Calvary--to the grave, to hell itself and back again to the right hand of the Father from whence He comes to judge the living and the dead today and everyday and at the Last Day—this same zeal is the zeal of the Holy Spirit working through the body of Christ, His Church, to baptize little Saul into salvation and eternal life.

Yes Greg—and every one of you—can be sure that Jesus, the only begotten Son of God, is zealous for you and all your household. You can rejoice that your Lord and Savior has zeal for His Father’s house. Because you are of that house and “the LORD will fight for you, and you shall hold your peace.” [Exodus 14:14] You belong to Him, and nothing “shall be able to separate [you] from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. [Romans 8:39] For you are God’s beloved children, residents of His house. Jesus the Christ, the Son of the living God has zeal for His Father’s house. And the Holy Spirit has zeal for everyone of you to keep you with Jesus Christ in your faith and Baptism, forgiving all your sins to keep you in the household of God now and forever--in the name of the Father, and of the + Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen!



Insofar as this sermon is a true proclamation of the Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ, it belongs to Him and His Church. Therefore its use is free to all who deem it worthy and beneficial.



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