Text: Matthew 21:12-16
FCF: We often struggling worshipping our God correctly since there is nothing like Him we have ever seen.
Prop: Because Jesus identifies Himself by word and deed as the same as God the Father, we must love and obey Jesus as we do God the Father.
[Slide 1] Turn in your bible to Matthew 21. Last week, we continued the narrative portion of Matthew’s work, where his task is to show the Jews that although they had had the very word of God, they did not understand it, nor did they live it. Today, we will see another clear example of how the Jews were violating the intention and plan of God in every way they could, but we’ll see more than that. We’ll see fundamental teaching that is absolutely essential to our faith, right here in these 4 verses. I’ll start in verse 12 of chapter 21, I am reading form the NET but follow along in whatever version you prefer and if you do not have a bible, please slip your hand up so we can get you one.
There is SOOOOOOOO much in this text. I have done my part to try to be as selective as I can be, stingy even, with what we will talk about, but there is still MUCH to talk about. So buckle up, it will be your longer than average sermon… but it is absolutely necessary that you hear every word.
I.) Jesus reiterates and enforces God’s design and plan for His temple, so we must love and obey Jesus as we do God the Father. (12-14)
a. [Slide 2] 12 – Then Jesus entered the temple area and drove out all those who were selling and buying in the temple courts, and turned over the tables of the money changers and the chairs of those selling doves.
i. As Gentiles, separated by almost 2000 years from this event, and even further from the establishment of these rituals, it is extremely difficult for us to identify with everything that is going on here.
ii. So allow me to try to paint the picture.
iii. First let’s start by describing the beauty of the event that they were about to celebrate. Passover. A celebration combined with the feast of unleavened bread. A time of remembrance and praise to God for His work of salvation in saving and protecting the children of Israel from Egypt. A lamb, slaughtered and eaten in the night with bitter herbs. Unleavened bread broken and consumed. All to remind them of the bitterness of their captivity and the firstborn lamb taking the place of the firstborn son. What an amazing event.
iv. But fast forward to the first century… and what had it become?
v. A month before Passover work would begin to prepare the temple for the Passover holiday. Roads into Jerusalem would be mended; sepulchers would be washed in white and cleaned up to prevent the unclean from defiling them. And money changers would set up shops in the city to begin the process of exchanging foreign currency for Temple or Galilean currency. You see, since the currency of the foreign powers had images of pagan gods and pagan men on them, they were unclean, and not permitted to be used to pay the half-shekel temple tax or to purchase the much needed supplies for the Passover sacrifices and feast groceries. For convenience, these money changers, would happily exchange their foreign coinage for temple coinage at an interest rate as high as 20%. But the theft was only one side of the tragedy.
vi. [Slide 3] At some point the money changers moved themselves into the court of the Gentiles, which is the outer court of the temple. They would compete for stalls closest to the gates entrance, no doubt for a fee paid to the temple treasury. The result was that the gentile temple court would be overrun with money changers and booths specifically offering a wide variety of feast day necessities. You can imagine the commotion in the outer court of the Gentiles as people argued and fought over prices, and were generally ripped off attempting to worship their God. This was at best the gross neglect of the chief priests and scribes, and at worst, outright theft.
vii. It is no wonder that Josephus and other historians wrote of the Bazzars of Annas, or the temple court markets, as a vile and detestable thing, that happily went away when the temple was destroyed in AD 70.
viii. But as terrible as all this was, the greatest injustice on the mind of our King as he entered the outer court, was that this place, a court designed for those who were not Jews to come to and worship the God of Israel, had been turned into a place of commerce and theft, all orchestrated by the ones who called themselves the priests of Yahweh. The very ones, who were to represent Yahweh to the Gentiles, were keeping the Gentiles from worshipping Him.
ix. We know this is the greatest injustice on the mind of our King, because buyer and seller alike were driven from the court. As terrible as the theft of the buyer was, closest to the heart of Jesus, was that the Gentiles had no place to worship God in peace.
x. Thus he teaches while driving them out.
b. [Slide 4] 13 – And He said to them, “It is written, ‘My house will be called a house of prayer,’ but you are turning it into a den of robbers!”
i. [Slide 5] This first quote is from Isaiah 56:7. Let’s look at this text
1. Jesus could have chosen any number of passages to talk about the usage of the temple, but He chooses this one. Why?
2. It is a passage that talks about, not only gentiles being allowed in to offer sacrifices on the altar, but even eunuchs, people who were not permitted into the altar even if they were Israelites, would be permitted to come in and offer sacrifices!
3. So Jesus’ quote here is clearly talking about the temple being opened for the gentiles and those who were previously excluded.
4. His temple would be known as a place of prayer… FOR ALL NATIONS and ALL PEOPLE
5. More on this in a moment.
ii. [Slide 6-10] The second quote is from Jeremiah 7:11. Let’s look at this text starting in verse 6, reading to verse 15.
1. You talk about a forward thinking message! This message was proclaimed to the Judean people almost 700 years prior to Jesus preaching it again at the temple here in Matthew 21. And you have to ask yourself… Have the people of Israel changed… at all… in 700 years?
2. God tells Jeremiah to comment on a few things that Judah had gotten wrong. What did he say?
a. You have not been living rightly or justly.
b. Stop putting your confidence in the security of the temple of the Lord, when you should have put your faith in the Lord of the temple.
c. Treat people fairly, stop oppressing foreigners, orphans, widows. Stop killing innocent people, and giving allegiance to pagan gods.
d. Stop stealing, stop murdering, stop committing adultery, stop swearing oaths and lying.
e. Stop worshiping false gods and then coming to the temple of Yahweh and think you are safe.
f. This temple I claimed for my own is not to be a den of thieves (our quote)
g. God warns – I can see what you are doing!!!
h. Remember back in Shiloh where people worshipped me poorly there… what did I do? I destroyed that temple didn’t I? (We actually just talked about this in Foundations that probably after the Philistines defeated Israel when they took the ark of the covenant which the people used as a good luck charm)
i. I have warned you repeatedly and you have not listened. I have warned you to repent… So I will destroy this temple.
j. And God did. He destroyed it and Judah was taken captive.
k. Almost 200 years later, God permitted a man named Ezra to return and rebuild the destroyed temple. And roughly 450 years after Ezra, a man named Herod had the temple refurbished and updated.
l. And this was the state of the temple as Jesus entered its outer court on this day in Matthew 21.
m. So what exactly had the people of Israel changed from the first temple’s destruction?
n. They were currently stealing, in less than a week they would murder the innocent, as lusty people who divorced easily they were guilty of adultery, they swore oaths and would break them citing some ridiculous technicality, they would steal from the poor, humiliate the orphans and demand heavy taxes from widows, and right here, in this passage, we see they are currently oppressing foreigners that want to worship God. And friends… these were the religious elite. The experts in the law were doing this.
o. Were they ANY different than 700 years ago with the first temple? No. No they weren’t.
iii. And dovetailing right into this, Matthew subtly inserts an event, not recorded by any other gospel writer, but is another example of the religious elite’s mistreatment of those whom God intended to welcome into His temple.
c. [Slide 11] 14 – The blind and lame came to Him in the temple courts, and He healed them.
i. The blind and lame were standing outside the temple courts. They were outside the court of the Gentiles.
ii. So regardless of their nationality, they were being excluded from the assembly, from worshipping God. Why?
iii. Based on a couple concepts in the old testament the religious leaders were actively prohibiting blind, deaf, and otherwise disabled people from worshipping God. Even though God had no such law forbidding them from entering.
iv. Can you see now why Jesus would quote Isaiah 56 and Jeremiah 7? God’s heart has always been to bring all people to Himself to worship Him. And Israel was told this… hundreds of years prior to Christ’s coming. Yet, the most religious among them are ACTIVELY working against God’s intention.
d. [Slide 12 (blank)] All of this serves to communicate one powerful truth. This Jesus, whoever He is, has just come in and upset the apple cart. He has come in and basically declared in word and deed, STOP DOING WHAT YOU ARE DOING – you have everything backward and upside down. This is not the way God wants His temple to operate. This feast is not an opportunity for you to line your pockets. This celebration is not a chance for you to steal from the poor and rob the simple. This is not a chance for you to say… no no, Jews only here… don’t care if you worship Yahweh, this is for Jews only… non-deformed Jews only.
e. God’s desire is, ultimately, for this temple to be a house of prayer for all people of all nations, of all conditions, as long as they are following Him.
f. Jesus is single handedly reiterating and enforcing God’s design for His temple. And I have to think that the chief priests just stood there and wondered… who does this guy think He is? Whose authority does He think He has?
Little did they know that they were about to be told. Not by the children, but by Jesus Himself. He is about to tell them where His authority is founded… and it is going to set in motion the events of the following week.
II.) Jesus permits praise of Himself which was reserved for God, so we must, so we must love and obey Jesus as we do God the Father. (15-16)
a. [Slide 13] 15 – But when the chief priests and the experts in the law saw the wonderful things he did and heard the children crying out in the temple courts, “Hosanna to the Son of David,” they became indignant.
i. Prophesies of old spoke of how the Messiah would give sight to the blind and cause the lame to walk. Now the religious leaders, who were keeping the right people out of the temple and allowing the wrong people in, were getting worried that it may actually be true that this guy Jesus was actually the military and political leader prophesied of old who would come to rule forever.
ii. Further fueling their fears, these children are shouting praise and calling Him the Son of David
iii. True panic ensues.
iv. Now, like we said last week, everyone thought that this is exactly what the Messiah was supposed to come and do. So why can’t the religious leaders accept Jesus as the Messiah?
v. First, they hated Him. He always was telling them how they had misrepresented the law of Moses, and how their righteousness would not be enough to enter the kingdom of God. Second, and along with that point, if Jesus was an accurate reflection of what the Kingdom God was going to bring, then they simply did not want it… even if it meant Rome was overthrown. Truth be told, they did quite well for themselves under Rome. And if the promise of more of the same was not inherent in the Kingdom that God was to bring with His Messiah… then they wanted nothing of it.
vi. Thus you see the awful truth of the spiritual state of Israel. That not only did they have a messed up view of their own Messiah’s coming – they also had a messed up view of their own Messiah’s character. They expected Him to be thrilled with the way they had towed the line of righteousness. The thought that Jesus was the Messiah… was absolutely unacceptable.
vii. Their only hope is that Jesus would flatly deny that He was this warrior King coming to take over.
b. [Slide 14] 16 – and said to Him, “Do you hear what they are saying?”
i. Essentially they are saying to Jesus…
ii. Do you realize what they are saying? They are calling you the Messiah! The Warrior King come to overthrow Rome and establish the Kingdom of God forever.
iii. Aren’t you going to stop them from believing this rubbish?
iv. Notice what Jesus says… and doesn’t say.
c. Jesus said to them, “Yes. Have you never read, ‘Out of the mouth of children and nursing infants you have prepared praise for yourself?’”
i. So Jesus does not deny it at all. He doesn’t even come close. In fact, as Ryan Wuestenberg said, He totally took this to another level.
ii. They had the dial set at level 3 panic mode. And at worst if Jesus did not deny the children’s claims, we are looking at level 6 panic mode.
iii. So Jesus cranks it to level 50.
iv. Do you see it? Let me help you.
v. [Slide 15] So Jesus is quoting here from an Old Testament passage of scripture. Specifically He is quoting from Psalm 8. Let’s read verse 1 and 2.
1. So David, at some unknown point in his life, walks outside and notices the stars in the sky. This leads him to write down “O Lord, our Lord, how magnificent is your reputation throughout the earth! Why? Because you reveal your majesty in the heavens above.
2. And then in verse 2 is our quote from Matthew. Perhaps this was written when Solomon was young and was able to stare up at the sky with his daddy. And perhaps on this particular night Solomon, cries out, “Daddy! That is a lot of stars! Did God make all those?” And David writes “from the mouths of children, and even young nursing babies, You have ordained, or prepared praise on account of your adversaries.”
3. Now that is a curious phrase. God has prepared praise, specifically offered from the mouths of infants and children, because of God’s adversaries. What does this mean? No one really knows… but might I suggest to you… that this is a prophesy, that God has prepared praise to be spoken, specifically to dumbfound the adversaries of God and put an end to His enemy. What do I mean by that?
4. I mean that these children in Matthew 21, actually fulfill prophesy here. In their offering up of praise to Jesus they are doing so for God’s adversaries to hear (the religious leaders questioning Jesus) and to put an end to the reign of the enemy ( which goes back to last week, that these children are further convincing the demons and Satan that Jesus is the Warrior King coming to wage war on them)
vi. But bigger than this being a prophesy fulfilled in religious leaders hearing it, bigger than identifying them as adversaries of God, is this… In Psalm 8 we see the word LORD in all caps, meaning that this is the proper name of God, Yahweh. Yahweh is preparing praise for Himself from the mouth of children… So… Did Jesus just claim to have the right to be praised, just as Yahweh? Did Jesus just draw a big equals sign between the praise that is due to Yahweh, and the praise that is due to Him?
vii. He most certainly… DID.
d. [Slide 16 (blank)] But perhaps you are wondering… yeah, but if that is what Jesus actually meant when He said this, and the religious leaders truly God’s adversaries, wouldn’t they have reacted strongly to Jesus’ claim to deserve the same praise Yahweh would get? And yet here in Matthew we don’t see them react at all.
e. That may be true, but perhaps Matthew does not record their reaction because it does not contribute to the point he is making in the narrative?
f. Matthew is simply drawing up the case that Israel did not understand their own scriptures, nor did they live by them. But Jesus did and does. Matthew has accomplished this already, and showing a reaction would not further this point.
g. But lest you doubt that Jesus intended to claim equality with God here, the other gospel writers have this event in their accounts.. Mark adds that after Jesus’ teaching on this, the chief priests and scribes immediately started planning to assassinate Him.
h. Obviously something He said had struck a nerve. So much so, that they were considering murdering Him. What was it?
i. It was the fact that Jesus was saying that He deserved the same praise Yahweh had prepared for Himself.
j. The chief priests and scribes said – are you the coming warrior King? And Jesus said, “ I AM THE I AM”
k. No wonder they wanted to kill Him.
So Jesus not only reinstates and enforces the design of God for His temple, but even claims equal rights to be praised Yahweh. So the authority of Jesus and worthiness of Jesus is the same as the authority and worthiness of Yahweh. That is a pretty big deal. Especially for Jews during the time of Matthew’s writing this gospel. But for we Gentiles in the 21st Century – What does this mean for us? How do we apply this to our lives?
Well do we still need to be reminded that Jesus Christ is the Second person of the Godhead? Is this message under attack at all today? You better believe it is. Throughout the history of the church, the nature of Christ and trinity of the Godhead has been assaulted from all sides.
Do you know what you believe? Do you know how to explain the trinity? Can you explain it in under a thousand words? While it would be beneficial for you to study this on your own, you received a hand out today which will serve as a cheat sheet for you.
If I could list all the grievances that I have with modern conservative evangelical Baptist churches, like our own, near the top of the list of those grievances is our complete ignorance of church history. Specifically the heresies, councils formed to deal with those heresies, and the subsequent creeds they approved to tear apart those heresies. But perhaps like me you were never taught any creeds growing up in church?
Which leads to the question of course, what is a creed? A creed is a labor of the early church, usually because much of the doctrine of the early church was not clearly established. Two big reasons for this: one because they did not have the printed complete scriptures available to them, at most they may have had a copy or two of a few letters available for their entire church. Second if no one was fighting over what was true or not, then there is no reason to spend a lot of time marking out exactly what we should and shouldn’t believe. But when you introduce a couple people who are preaching a gospel that is not the one you have always heard, that tends to motivate people to study up and buddy up.
From these early battles 3 creeds were produced, the Apostles creed, the Nicaean Creed and the Athanasian Creed. All three of these creeds were produced and verified by early church councils, as the accepted teaching of the Apostles and Jesus Christ Himself.
Now a creed was never meant to be, and shouldn’t be, a substitute for careful study of the WORD OF GOD. No creed can replace Spirit illuminated truth. But once that truth has been shown to you, a creed can be a helpful reminder of what you have learned. We see this happening as early as Genesis. Some bibles actually set off for us amid a narrative section, something like looks like a psalm. In the first 10 chapters of Genesis we see almost 1 of these per chapter. That is, in effect, a creed. It was designed to be set to music and ultimately, taught and memorized by children.
[Slide 17] As you came in this morning you were handed the Athanasian creed. And it is the best of the three at showing the nature of the trinity and the dual nature of Christ. It was attributed to a man named Athanasius, although he probably did not write it, but was famous for opposing Arian heresy during the early AD 300s. The creed was written and accepted in the late AD 400s.
Allow me to read it to you… with some clarifying comments along the way.
Whoever desires to be saved should above all hold to the catholic faith. – So catholic here is not capitalized. It does not mean the Roman Catholic Church. It is talking about the TRUE church. Those who are legitimately followers of Christ.
Anyone who does not keep it whole and unbroken will doubtless perish eternally. This statement is both too soft and too strong all at the same time. There are items in this creed that would probably not be “required” for saving faith, but also simply affirming that everything in this creed is true does not produce saving faith either. Even the demons believe all this.
Now this is the catholic faith:
That we worship one God
in trinity and the trinity in unity,
neither blending their persons
nor dividing their essence.
For the person of the Father is a distinct person,
the person of the Son is another,
and that of the Holy Spirit still another.
But the divinity of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit is one,
their glory equal, their majesty coeternal.
What quality the Father
has, the Son has, and the Holy Spirit has.
The Father is uncreated,
the Son is uncreated,
the Holy Spirit is uncreated.
The Father is immeasurable,
the Son is immeasurable,
the Holy Spirit is immeasurable.
The Father is eternal,
the Son is eternal,
the Holy Spirit is eternal.
And yet there are not three eternal beings;
there is but one eternal being.
So too there are not three uncreated or immeasurable beings;
there is but one uncreated and immeasurable being.
Similarly, the Father is
the Son is almighty,
the Holy Spirit is almighty.
Yet there are not three almighty beings;
there is but one almighty being.
Thus the Father is God,
the Son is God,
the Holy Spirit is God.
Yet there are not three gods;
there is but one God.
Thus the Father is Lord,
the Son is Lord,
the Holy Spirit is Lord.
Yet there are not three lords;
there is but one Lord.
Just as Christian truth
to confess each person individually
as both God and Lord,
so catholic religion forbids us
to say that there are three gods or lords.
The Father was neither
made nor created nor begotten from anyone.
The Son was neither made nor created;
he was begotten from the Father alone.
The Holy Spirit was neither made nor created nor begotten;
he proceeds from the Father and the Son.
Accordingly there is one
Father, not three fathers;
there is one Son, not three sons;
there is one Holy Spirit, not three holy spirits.
Nothing in this trinity
is before or after,
nothing is greater or smaller;
in their entirety the three persons
are coeternal and coequal with each other.
So in everything, as was
we must worship their trinity in their unity
and their unity in their trinity.
Anyone then who desires to be saved
should think thus about the trinity.
But it is necessary for eternal salvation
that one also believe in the incarnation
of our Lord Jesus Christ faithfully.
Now this is the true faith:
That we believe and
that our Lord Jesus Christ, God's Son,
is both God and human, equally.
He is God from the
essence of the Father,
begotten before time;
and he is human from the essence of his mother,
born in time;
completely God, completely human,
with a rational soul and human flesh;
equal to the Father as regards divinity,
less than the Father as regards humanity.
Although he is God and
yet Christ is not two, but one.
He is one, however,
not by his divinity being turned into flesh,
but by God's taking humanity to himself.
He is one,
certainly not by the blending of his essence,
but by the unity of his person.
For just as one human is both rational soul and flesh,
so too the one Christ is both God and human.
He suffered for our
he descended to hell;
he arose from the dead;
he ascended to heaven;
he is seated at the Father's right hand;
from there he will come to judge the living and the dead.
At his coming all people will arise bodily
and give an accounting of their own deeds.
Those who have done good will enter eternal life,
and those who have done evil will enter eternal fire.
This is the catholic faith:
one cannot be saved without believing it firmly and faithfully.
Hey… for a bunch of folks who not only did not have a bible word search tool, but did not have the collected and distributed bible in a single book – THAT is pretty solid.
Can I challenge you, even as a Baptist, to go home and look up these three creeds. Print them off. Memorize them. Study the scriptures and whenever you find the passage that reveals something is true in the creed, just mark it down. And if you are feeling particularly lazy, there are even websites that have added scriptural references to each statement, so you have biblical backing for everything being said. Also, if you are interested, there is a 2 part series of laymen minded books called “The Know Series”. Know the heretics and know the councils and creeds. They are short, informative, and knowledge that I was never taught growing up in a Baptist church. And it is knowledge that every Christian should have.
Jesus is Yahweh, and that means He must be trusted and worshipped. And any faith that says otherwise is not of Christ but is a doctrine of demons.
We had a couple young women come to our door one day, they were passing out little magazines. Of course, they were Jehovah’s witnesses. At first I was cordial with them we had a nice and vague chat about faith. That led to a subsequent visit. I realized then that I had to nip this in the bud. The same two women came, but with two men in an SUV with them. To their surprise I articulated very concisely and to the point where we strongly disagreed. I told them that if they do not believe that Jesus is the Son of God. Coequal and Coeternal with the Father and the Spirit, then they ought not claim to be of Christ… because they were not.
They haven’t been back.
Try as they might to pretend to be like minded with us , Mormons and Jehovah’s witnesses are heretics. Because this creed, is flatly denied by their teaching. We must stand firm on truth like this because one day we may be forced to choose to believe it or die. To die is gain… to live is Christ.