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April 4, 2010

Jesus stakes his entire life and ministry on one miracle
John 2:12-25

Scripture reading: Romans 1:1-7, I Corinthians 15

This morning I want to lead you in a study of John 2:12-25. In this passage, Jesus, at the beginning of his public ministry enters into the Temple of the Lord at the time of the Passover, sees that it has been turned into a marketplace, and proceeds to drive out the sellers and animals. Indignant and angry, the priests and Temple staff demand a miraculous sign from Jesus, that he might prove to them that he had the authority to do what he had just done. More than up for the challenge, Jesus responded to them by saying; "I'll give you a sign" -"Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days."

What Jesus said that day, stuck in the minds of people. What Jesus so was so controversial/so provocative/ so memorable/so galvanizing, it stuck in the minds of his disciples and it stuck in the minds of his enemies.

How do we know this?

Three years later, in an illegal trial held in the dead of night, 2 false witnesses, twisting Jesus' words in the process, are recorded as saying of Jesus; "This fellow said, "I am able to destroy the temple of God and rebuild it in three days." (Matthew 26:59-63)

Furthermore, the next day, as Jesus hung on the cross, mockers throw Jesus' words at him. As it says in Matthew 27:39-40 "Those who passed by hurled insults at him, shaking their heads and saying. "You who are going to destroy the temple and build it in three day, save yourself! Come down from the cross, if you are the Son of God!"

BIG POINT:

The miracle of Jesus' resurrection is central to their entire Christian faith.

In the passage that we are going to look at today, Jesus stakes his entire life, ministry, and claims on one miracle: The miracle of his own resurrection. This is directly complementary to the Apostle Paul's assertion in 1 Corinthians 15:14 "If Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith."

Let's read John 2:12-25 together.

OBSERVATIONS AND LESSONS

1. Time period: The beginning of Jesus' ministry

Implication: 2 Temple cleansings by Christ

2. Jesus had just performed his first public miracle: The turning of water in wine

The result of this was that his disciples put their faith in him. John 2:11

3. Jesus performed miracles that people might put their faith in him as Lord and Savior

Jesus' entire public ministry was surrounded by outstanding miracles (with the result that everybody had heard of him -- Romans, governors, the King, etc)

John 20:30-31 tells us why Jesus performed miracles "Jesus did many other miraculous signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name."

4. The cleansing of the Temple strengthened his disciples faith in him as Messiah v.18

Part of the peoples expectations of the Messiah was that he would clean up the corruption that existed in their worship/religious structure.

Temple worship had become corrupted

-money changers and sellers of animals in the temple courts (courts that were supposed to be for prayer and worship. Not to mention that everything was at extortion level pricing)

The abuse that Jesus saw angered him and so he rebuked the people and filled with righteous anger Jesus overturned the tables and drove the sellers and animals out. Upon seeing this, Jesus disciples minds turned to Psalm 69:9 wherein it says "Zeal for your house will consume me." This built their faith in Jesus as the Messiah and Anointed one of God.
Note of irony: Passover required that every Jew cleanse their house and purify it. How ironic that God's house was left out of the cleansing.

5. Jesus' cleansing of the Temple drew the ire of the Jewish religious leaders, so much, that in their indignation they demanded that Jesus perform a miracle to prove his authority in the matter

In the Jewish world it was common to ask for miraculous signs.
(this goes all the way to Moses appearing before the people as the one to lead the Jews out of Egypt) In 1 Corinthians 1:22-23 Paul writes; "Jews demand miraculous signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentile

6. In response to their demands for a miraculous sign, Jesus stakes his entire ministry and claims on one defining miracle: His resurrection from the dead

Key Things to note

a. Every other time a miraculous sign is demanded of Christ, Jesus refuses- except one time- and again it's in reference to his resurrection and it's future related

Matthew 12:38-42 says; "Then some of the Pharisees and teachers of the law said to him, "Teacher, we want to see a miraculous sign from you." He answered, "A wicked and adulterous generation asks for a miraculous sign! But none will be given it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. The men of Nineveh will stand up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it; for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and now onee greater than Jonah is here. The Queen of the South will rise at the judgment with this generation and condemn it; for she came from the ends of the earth to listen to Solomon's wisdom, and now one greater than Solomon is here."

b. Jesus veiled his words for a reason

A question you might have of John 2:19 is this: "Why didn't Jesus speak more plainly? Why did Jesus speak in a way that was mysterious and a little bit vague? Why didn't Jesus say; "You're questioning my authority, 3 years from now, I'm going to die on a cross, 3 days later I'm going to rise from the dead. That will be my ultimate proof to you that I have the authority to kick you money grubbers and false shepherds out of my Fathers house"

Why Jesus veiled his words

-note, his own disciples asked him about this. Matthew 13:10
-on another occasion, in John 10, the crowd said to him "If you are the Christ, tell us plainly", to which Jesus replied "I did tell you, but do not believe."-- the end result was that they tried to kill him

Answer:

i. To fulfill the Scriptures ( see Matthew 13:10ff and Psalm 78)
ii. To make people think and contemplate and examine
iii. To lead true seekers to understanding (Ask and you will receive, seek and you shall find, knock and the door shall be opened unto you)
iv. To illustrate that to understand spiritual truth requires revelation and the working of God in a persons life
v. To allow him to define himself as he wanted
vi. To lead people to faith in. The end result was great faith on the part of his disciples (the puzzle came together and their faith grew by leaps and bounds)
vii. For maximum application in the lives of his hearers


c. After Jesus rose from the dead, these words of Christ were immediately understood by his disciples and the result was there faith was strengthened to rock solid

d. These words of Christ remind me
of John 10:17-18 wherein Jesus says; "The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life- only to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father." and John 11:25 wherein Jesus says to Martha "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?"

e. By Christ's own words, the entire Christian faith hangs on whether he kept his word and rose from the dead.

As the Apostle Paul said in I Corinthians 15:14 "If Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith."

7. There are many good reasons for believing that Jesus rose from the dead

1. The empty tomb- following his public execution at the hands of the Romans (Though it was guarded by Roman soldiers who faced execution for failure to do their jobs)
2. Women being the first to believe (no status in that culture, yet recorded as believing first. This significant since if going to make up a story, you wouldn't start out by validating it with people with no standing)
3. The transformation and faith of Jesus' disciples (from disbelieving cowards to dying for proclaiming Christ and his resurrection, from quitting to serving faithfully for the rest of their lives)
4. The conversion of Jesus' half brothers James and Jude
5. The conversion of Saul/Paul (He went from persecuting Christians to being the church's biggest missionary)
6. Converted Jews who changed their day of worship from Saturday to Sunday
7. The reliability of the Scriptures (Real people, real places, real events, 100's of specific and fulfilled prophecies, the Bible's amazing unity- though written in 3 languages over 1600 years by 40 different contributors, it's own testimony as to it's origin: God)
8. The Gospel records and the Epistles of the NT (which were written in the 1st century by Jesus' disciples and Paul). Their uniform testimony is that Jesus rose from the dead
9. Extra-biblical documents from the 1st and following centuries that speak of Jesus, his claims, and the beliefs of his followers i.e The works of Josephus (a Jewish historian), Tacitus (a Roman historian), and Pliny the Younger (a Roman governor and fierce persecutor of Christians)
10. The catacombs of Rome, in which, for the first 300 years of the church, Christians hid during times of persecution. Throughout the catacombs are references to the Deity of Christ and his resurrection
11. 2000 years of Jesus' resurrection being proclaimed and died for by tens of millions of Christians.
12. The hatred of the world (In case you haven't noticed their are 2 big groups of people that are hated and persecuted without reason, the world over-- Jews and Christians. The Jews are hated because of their centrality to God's future promises and because they are God's chosen people. Christians are hated and mocked, because the world hates truth, hates being told to repent, hates the Jesus of the Bible)

CONCLUSION: Our celebration of the Lord's Supper

What is the greatest miracle of Christ? THE MIRACLE OF HIS RESURRECTION

Everything about the Christian faith hangs or falls as it regards Jesus' resurrection

There are more than enough pieces of evidence for us and for anyone to believe that Jesus rose

Why should a person follow and serve Christ? Because of his miracles and ultimately because of the miracle of his resurrection

Since Jesus rose from the dead, we need to live like it. Death holds no terror for us who believe- for as Christ rose, he will raise us. Hence we need to live obediently, not afraid of death and not afraid of what anyone might do to us for our faith in Christ.

Hallelujah: We serve a risen Savior. Jesus is alive!