Cross sculpture on campus



The Zeal of the Lord

Lent 2022

Read John 2:12-25

12 After this he went down to Capernaum, with his mother and his brothers and his disciples, and they stayed there for a few days.

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

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

23 Now when he was in Jerusalem at the Passover Feast, many believed in his name when they saw the signs that he was doing. 24 But Jesus on his part did not entrust himself to them, because he knew all people 25 and needed no one to bear witness about man, for he himself knew what was in man.

This story does not present the “Gentle Jesus, meek and mild” popularized by a song lyric, or the Jesus we picture in our own desire for an “understanding” God (Although we often too readily welcome a whip-bearing Jesus for those who have angered, hurt, frustrated, or wronged us). Here, Jesus demonstrates that he has come with intense zeal—a driven passion to get his work done. In this, Jesus is like His Father who, throughout the Old Testament, refers to Himself as a jealous God; that is, one who guards and protects that which belongs to him.

When exhibited by sinful humans, zeal and jealously are most often warped into selfish and destructive behaviors. But in the hands of the sinless Son of God, we see something quite different. Here we see a zealous, eager and ardent pursuit of all that is good, righteous, holy and just. He is moved by a love for God his Father, and desires the best for all of God’s creation. His holy jealousy is vigilant in guarding against anything that would stand in the way of his work or work in opposition to his kingdom.

When asked for a sign, how does Jesus respond? “Destroy this temple (his body) and I will raise it in three days.” The fullness of his zeal would be demonstrated through his anguish in a garden, a body beaten, hands and feet pierced by nails, blood spilled from his side, and then an empty tomb. How humbling it is to realize our Lord is zealous for you and me. Nothing was able to stop him from redeeming us, lost and condemned though we were. By his work, he ensured that we would be his own and live under his care in his kingdom. Even with our ongoing sin and rebellion, in his zeal, he richly forgives our sin, daily raises us to new life, and continually preserves us in steadfast faith.

Prayer: Dear Lord, thank you for redeeming me. By your ever-present help, keep me from all things hurtful and instead lead me to all things beneficial to salvation. Amen.

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