Monday, August 15, 2011


As I mentioned yesterday, our church in Upton, MA (Immanuel Chapel OPC) will begin a series of sermons on the Gospel of John on Sunday September 4, 2011.  Our worship service begins at 11:00AM. 

Can you come?  To help persuade you, I am writing a short series of...well...let's call them "encouragements."  Reasons to come. 

Yesterday I gave you my first reason, drawing on John chapter 1.

Today I give you reason #2, from John 2:

CASTIGLIONE, Giovanni Benedetto
Reason #2:     Come hear preaching on John’s Gospel and be confronted with a Man who thought worship was important.  Warning:  this Jesus may shock you.  In John 2 Jesus confronts the religious merchandisers of the day.  He made a “whip of cords” and using this on the animals[1] being offered for sale He “drove them all out of the temple (John 2:15).”  Returning, He then “poured out the changers’ money and overturned the tables.”  Really?  Jesus?  Gentle and mild Jesus?  Why would He do such a thing?  I think John Calvin was right, “to restore the worship of God to its integrity.”  Worship matters.  The way we worship says something about the God we worship.  Our views of worship probably say something about our view of God.  We cannot have a high view of God and a low view of worship.
And this is a relevant issue today.  We are, I believe, a religiously-saturated but worship-starved generation.  We are all, to some degree, like those hypocrites in John 2 who enter God’s house merely “doing business (2:14).”    For some, the “business” is entertainment.  For others the “business” is their icons or tradition.  For many the “business” is simply satisfying our pride that "we do worship right.”  But God isn’t really interested in our business when it comes to His worship.  And like the temple-tradesmen we are shocked when Jesus Christ “overturns the tables” of our ideas about worshipping God.  Much of our worship, and I include myself in this critique, could be summed up by Proverbs 30:12There is a generation that is pure in its own eyes, yet is not washed from its filthiness.  No, we don’t go to a “temple” to worship today.  Rather, we bring our “temples” with us.  You are the temple of God, and the Spirit of God dwells in you (I Cor. 3:16).”  But these temples need cleansing too.
True worship is, fundamentally, heart-worship.  John 2 ends with these words about Christ: “He knew what was in man.”  God knows what is in your heart and mine…right now.  He knows the excuses in our hearts that keep us from really worshipping Him.  He knows why we are trying to hold Him at a distance and avoid dealing closely with Christ.  He knew what was in man.”  Reader, what is in your heart?  As we prayerfully listen to these sermons from the gospel of John, let us ask God together to deal with our hearts.  And if we are going to worship God aright we must begin by receiving Christ Himself.  Let Him do the purifying work that we need.  Don’t try to cleanse the temple of your heart yourself.  Let Jesus come in with His whip and drive out our sin and guilt and shame.  That is why, ultimately, He came.  That is the purpose of the cross.  Christ died for sinners.  Receive Him.  Only then will we truly be able to begin to worship God.

[1] Some question exists as to whether Jesus used the whip on the animals only, or also on the people involved.  Although I have no doubt these merchandisers fully deserved a good whipping (dont' we all?)…I am presently persuaded that He used the whip on the animals.

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