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Delivered By
Pr. Mark D. Lovett
Delivered On
August 24, 2014
Central Passage
Luke 19:41-48
Description

In the name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit.

The Lord drove out the money changers and those that sold and bought in the temple. He drove them out with whips and cords, as recorded in the other gospel accounts. He drove them out after He had wept over Jerusalem, for they did not know the day of their visitation.

Here was the Lord who had brought Moses and the Israelites out of Egypt, who had called Abraham before that and had blessed Isaac and Jacob; who had sustained the Israelites for 40 years in the wilderness of Sinai; who had visited His people and ate and drank with them on the mount of the Lord. Here was the Lord who had brought them into the Promise Land, who drove out the nations before them; who had blessed them and protected them and called them to repentance and faith. Here was the same Lord now looking upon His city, the city of His people and the city of His temple, and He wept for them that they would know the day of their visitation.

He had spoken long ago through Jeremiah the prophet, “I have paid attention and listened, but [My people] have not spoken rightly” (Jeremiah 8:5). They were not orthodox, which means to speak rightly. They were heterodox, the spoke wrongly. They spoke wrongly about peace and about God and about themselves, why they were they people of God. They spoke of peace when there was no peace – no peace because there was no sacrifice, yet the sacrifice now stood before them. They spoke wrongly of God, teaching that it was those that obeyed Moses who were justified when God had promised that He would be their God by grace and mercy and that the justified would live by faith. They spoke wrongly of themselves, boasting in their obedience and lineage as if these were the reasons they were called the people of God and not by His election and grace.

The Lord weeps over such people. He has been listening but they have spoken wrongly. So He drives them out of the temple. They make His house of prayer into a den of thieves.

After all, it was not money they were thieving in the temple in Jerusalem that had raised the Lord’s ire. It wasn’t gold or silver that they were stealing. It was sheep. They were stealing the Lord’s sheep by teaching wrongly about the Lord and His people. The Lord had said again through the prophet Jeremiah: “How can you say, ‘We are wise, and the law of the Lord is with us’? But behold, the lying pen of the scribes has made it into a lie.” The teachers of Israel were teaching wrongly and the people were being led astray, and this roused the Lord to anger. They were commending to the people the sacrifices of bulls and goats to take away their sin when there stood before them the true Sacrifice, the Lamb of God who would Himself remove their sin from them and to whom they should have pointed. But the preferred the shadow to the reality. So many people do.

They were teaching the people to try and ascend to God when God had taken it upon Himself to descend to them. For no one has ascended to the heavens except the Son of Man who also descended.

Beware of false teachers. They will lead you astray. They would teach you that you must please God when He has said of His Son, “This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased.” They would teach you that you must sacrifice this or that to appease God when the Lord has made satisfaction for you and welcomes you into His kingdom.

The Lord, being sent to the lost house of Israel to bring back the sheep, drives out those that would steal the sheep. The Lord would teach His people – as it is written, “He was teaching daily in the temple” (Luke 19:47) and also, “They will all be taught by God” (John 6:45; cf. 1 Thess. 4:9).

That is the chief thing in the kingdom of God, right teaching. If it were not the chief thing then why would our Lord call Himself the Teacher? And why would He concern Himself with sitting daily and teaching His people? Why would teaching be held with such esteem that St. James would say that teachers are held to a higher standard than those they teach? That is why we pastors worry ourselves with Sunday school curriculum and hymns and other such things. They all teach something, let us make sure they teach rightly.

Without proper teaching – without orthodox teaching – the people are led astray. Without proper instruction the devil sows his lies and temptations with little or no resistance as he had done among those in Jerusalem and does so now where Jesus is not spoken of rightly. So the Lord deigns to teach His people Himself. But His teaching is not like the teaching of others, just as His kingdom is not like the kingdom of others. The Lord teaches through prayer as He says of His temple, “My house is called a house of prayer.”

True prayer is not like worldly prayer just as the Lord’s kingdom is not like worldly kingdoms. Worldly prayer is merely wishing or hoping. Worldly prayer finds its culmination in letters to Santa or daydreams in which we would win a million dollars. But godly prayer is certainly not hoping or wishing. Neither is it only to petition our Father for what we need but true prayer is also listening. When you are listening to the word of God you are praying. When you are with the intent to say “amen” to what is said by the Lord, then you are praying. Consider that when you say “amen” to the benediction. The benediction is both prayer and the answer to prayer. This is why it is good, even necessary, to sit in silence and consider what has been read or spoken, to not dismiss it out of hand as opinion or too ancient to be relevant. The Ancient of Days is always relevant.

So our Lord prayed. He listened to His Father and did and spoke only that which was given to Him to do and to speak. He did not speak of His own but spoke the Father’s will. The works He did and does are not His own, but He does what He sees His Father doing. That is prayer.

The temple in Jerusalem is thrown down and gone, never to be rebuilt. (Don’t listen to those who say it must be rebuilt, for the Lord Himself says it will not be.) Jesus is the temple of God as He Himself declares. (Which is why the temple in Jerusalem will never be rebuilt: it would diminish the glory of Christ.) Not only that, but we are the temple of the Most High God, the Spirit of the Living God dwelling within us and among us. Therefore we are the house of prayer. We are the house of listening to the Lord and speaking rightly about Him.

Let us rejoice in the Lord who visits us in His temple, which is His Body, the Gathering wherein His prophets prophesy, His teachers teach, and His Spirit enlightens by His gifts which are given for the common good. This is the day of our visitation as it is written, “‘In a favorable time I listened to you, and in the day of salvation I helped you.’ Behold, now is the favorable time, now is the day of salvation.” (2 Corinthians 6:2)  Today you hear the voice of the Spirit and He teaches you in His temple by the blessed mysteries that reveal to you the Christ and teach you about the Father in heaven. Not just in the sermon, but in the whole gathering, the Lord’s gathering.

Listen to Him who has come and visits us now through His mysteries. Hear Him who says that He is the way, the truth, and the life and that none who come to Him shall be put to shame.

+ In Nomine Iesu +