Restoring the Temple
Restoring the Temple
We have all done house projects. They typically take twice as long and cost three times as much as we thought it would. It’s always neat to see the transformation that happens.
We had a scary, cool basement in Maryland, 100 year old house, 100 year old oak beams, 100 year old electrical panel. low ceilings, water heater, We decided to fix it up a bit as we were trying to sell our house.
First thing you have to do is tear out the old. Once the old is out you put in the new. There are always some stubborn pieces that take a bit more persuasion to get out. Support beams. Then frame walls, closets, drywall, paint.
If you have ever done a restoration project, then you understand a little of what Jesus is doing in his last days. Jesus came on a mission to restore sinners. He will spend the last days of his life in the temple on a rehab project. The temple was intended to be a place of prayer, but it had turned into a den of robbers. Some of Jesus’ most stubborn opposition is here, and he is seeking to persuade people to the true God. The temple won’t be restored by new floors and countertops. It will be restored through faith and devotion to God. He is trying to change people’s hearts– the hardest thing to do. And Jesus will give the last days of his life teaching in the temple so that people will accurately understand who God is.
After arriving in Jerusalem, he will spend each day in the temple teaching on a number of topics that brought him into contention with the religious leaders of his day.
We are going to jump into this teaching. It begins with the Jewish leaders sending spies to trap Jesus. And he uses this as an opportunity to teach people rightly about God.
So they watched him and sent spies, who pretended to be sincere, that they might catch him in something he said, so as to deliver him up to the authority and jurisdiction of the governor. 21 So they asked him, “Teacher, we know that you speak and teach rightly, and show no partiality, but truly teach the way of God. 22 Is it lawful for us to give tribute to Caesar, or not?” 23 But he perceived their craftiness, and said to them, 24 “Show me a denarius. Whose likeness and inscription does it have?” They said, “Caesar’s.” 25 He said to them, “Then render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” 26 And they were not able in the presence of the people to catch him in what he said, but marveling at his answer they became silent. 27 There came to him some Sadducees, those who deny that there is a resurrection, 28 and they asked him a question, saying, “Teacher, Moses wrote for us that if a man’s brother dies, having a wife but no children, the man must take the widow and raise up offspring for his brother. 29 Now there were seven brothers. The first took a wife, and died without children. 30 And the second 31 and the third took her, and likewise all seven left no children and died. 32 Afterward the woman also died. 33 In the resurrection, therefore, whose wife will the woman be? For the seven had her as wife.” 34 And Jesus said to them, “The sons of this age marry and are given in marriage, 35 but those who are considered worthy to attain to that age and to the resurrection from the dead neither marry nor are given in marriage, 36 for they cannot die anymore, because they are equal to angels and are sons of God, being sons of the resurrection. 37 But that the dead are raised, even Moses showed, in the passage about the bush, where he calls the Lord the God of Abraham and the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob. 38 Now he is not God of the dead, but of the living, for all live to him.” 39 Then some of the scribes answered, “Teacher, you have spoken well.” 40 For they no longer dared to ask him any question.
- Jesus’ Devotion to the Project
If you had one week to live how would you spend it. What’s on your bucket list? The great pyramid, snorkeling on the great barrier reef, bunji jumping on Hoover Dam, climb Mount Everest. Jesus did none of those. His life’s mission was to bring people to God.
I pointed this out last week. I want to point it out again. Jesus gives his life to save sinners. The last week of his life is spent debating hardened sinners. Sometimes the most strident unbelief comes from those inside the church rather than those outside the church. Who profess with their mouths but their heart are far. They are around the things of God but it has not seeped into them.
*What if our bucket lists looked more like Jesus. Our lives might follow!
These leaders have been looking for a way to kill him, discredit him, anything. Understandable right, a guy shows up to church turning things over and causing problems, might want to figure out why he thinks he can do that. But it is amazing he continues interacting with them. Most people would need a break or think about retirement. But Jesus never stops. And he continues doing this today.
He even continues to meet people in his church, who don’t have the best intentions, who don’t really like what he is trying to do, and even those who are outright against him. Just want to point out why he keeps interrupting your life.
- Restoring God’s Image
The first confrontation here is when spies are sent in by the leaders. Spies. This is literally hired hypocrites to act righteously. Hypocrites were actors. Actors pretend to be something they are not.
Their mission is to find a way, a reason, something, anything that they might hand Jesus over to the Governor. That would be Pontius Pilate.
[21 So they asked him, “Teacher, we know that you speak and teach rightly, and show no partiality, but truly teach the way of God.
They broach the hot topic of their day:
[“Is it lawful to give tribute to Caesar nor not,” v22.
Tribute is payment made by the people of one nation to another, with the implication that this is a symbol of submission and dependence – ‘tribute tax.’
Jerusalem had been conquered by Rome and Rome is in fact ruling at this moment. Rome had declared a census and enacted a tax based on that census at the time of Jesus’ birth. It was a big deal for the Jewish people.
The census provoked Jewish zealots to lead various uprisings. One Judas of Galilee led a revolt, it was crushed but his ideology of “No king but God” inspired many. France, 320.
If Jesus answers: No, don’t pay taxes. Then he will be accused of sedition and liable to the Roman authorities. This would be like saying publically I will not pay my taxes to the US. You can do that but bad things start happening. Might end your ministry.
If Jesus answers Yes, and says that Jews should pay taxes then it would discredit his ministry. How can any pious Jew think that it is OK to pay taxes to another nation. You want to see your nation thriving.
A no-win situation.
Jesus brilliantly answers the question. Give me a denarius- Roman coin.
Whose image is on the coin?
The image on the coin was a reminder of who was in power and control. Reminder who authorized their money and backed it up.
Jesus’ answer is amazing. It distinguishes the difference of serving God and serving one’s country, and yet not necessitating that one exclude the other, nor that one includes the other. It’s a brilliant answer that establishes our allegiance first and foremost to God and then second to our nation.
We can pay taxes for the benefits rendered of being a citizen. And we can serve God with our whole hearts. There are times those two run parallel and there are times they depart.
-Would be a stark rebuke to these spies: Give God truth. Stop bearing false witness. Stop lying. Stop trying to kill. It is basically this:
-Put God first. Not second, third, fourth, but put him first.
Question for you is – what is of first importance?
*But Jesus goes way deeper about putting God first.
*It’s not just what you do, it’s about who you are.* Genesis says we are created in God’s image.
*Caesar’s image is on the denarius. God’s image is on you.*
People are created in the image of God. It implies great dignity and responsibility. The responsibility is that if you are in his image then you ought to look to him. You bear the responsibility to live as he calls you to live.
Clear responsibility. ~Caesar’s image is on that which he has authority over. On that which he owns. And because his image is on it, he also cares about it. Grandfather and the family last name. Live up to that. Even more so.
Dignity. People want to throw off everything that has anything to do with God. And I think that is why so many people struggle with significance today. Without this it is difficult to say you have inherent dignity. It is impossible to say: We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
You are not the result of unpredictable random adaptations of some cosmic gue. You are created in the image of God. Your heavenly Father created you to be like him. Don’t let people question your dignity. Don’t stress out and get anxious about what others think of you. First and foremost, know who you are in God’s sight.
Everyone bears this. We ought to stick up for the rights and dignity of people because they are created in God’s image. Many groups today just want to silence others, send them off to another land and be done with them. If you don’t agree with me then get out. We can’t believe this doctrine and then live that way.
It also means the preborn have the image of God on them. We ought to stick up for them. In a materialistic world the more stuff you have and do and accomplish the better and more important you are. If you haven’t done much then you are not valued much. Right now a materialistic worldview permeates our society and medical community. We heard Talli share this morning.
Scripture treats the killing of a preborn just like the killing of the born.
We want to stick up for those with an unplanned pregnancy. The children born out of wedlock. They may have been unplanned but not unwanted.
If there is an injury, then you must give life for life, (Exo 21:23 CSB)
It means addicts, the homeless, the confused, the ornery all have the image of God, and Jesus has come in a restoration project. It is his house. He wants to see you thriving, and it comes through a relationship with him.
Jesus makes an incredibly profound statement. It has major ethical ramifications. But it also has ontological implications of who we believe we are. It means we all have dignity.
And yes, whatever voice speaks into your head to say you are a failure, you need to speak against it.
Right theology leads to right thinking. Healthy theology. Sound doctrine→ healthy theology.
- Restoring the Resurrection
Next up to confront Jesus are the Sadducees. Sadducees were those who believed there was no resurrection.
They choose to focus on an issue or questions that would demonstrate why they do not believe in a resurrection.
A woman has been married seven times over. In ancient times widows were extremely vulnerable and so in the law Moses wrote about how to protect them. In order to protect the widow and preserve the family line, the man’s brother would step up to marry her and take care of her.
So if she has been married seven or eight times, whose wife will she be at the resurrection?
Given the state of marriage today, tragedies in and around marriage and people marrying multiple times, or perhaps people being with others, it might cause the question to rise in your mind.
First. Resurrection is different than this life.
But those who are counted worthy to take part in that age and in the resurrection from the dead neither marry nor are given in marriage. For they cannot die anymore, because they are like angels and are sons of God, since they are sons of the resurrection. (Luke 20:36 CSB) (Luke 20:35 CSB)
He does not minimize marriage here, but in this life, there is death and birth. In the life to come, where it is eternal, you will not have this. We will be like the angels who simply are.
Power. How can there be a resurrection? Maybe a bit of a question about the restoration to come. Look at this mess!! They didn’t understand the scope of God’s redemption. God is going to bring healing, and it’s not just a return to a previous state it is an advancement in every way. Not just going back. Going forward. No mess that God can’t fix.
DA Carson, “I’m not suffering from anything a good resurrection can’t fix!”
Word. They are quoting Moses and what Moses has said, so Jesus meets them where they are at. You believe in the authority of Moses. Great. Let’s talk about Moses.
37 But that the dead are raised, even Moses showed, in the passage about the bush, where he calls the Lord the God of Abraham and the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob. 38 Now he is not God of the dead, but of the living, for all live to him.”
In Moses’ time Abraham, Isaac and Jacob had been dead centuries. He is their God. Shows that they are still alive. They are more alive now than ever.
Jesus teaches there is a resurrection. He will prove this by his own death and resurrection. Here he shows it has been spoken of from the very beginning.
Even Moses in the Old Testament book of the law spoke about the resurrection to come.
When this story is shared in other gospel accounts they add that Jesus added the statement:
[“Are you not in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God? (Mark 12:24 NIV)
It’s embarrassing for these religious leaders to be hit with these questions. They didn’t know the Scriptures.
Don’t make the same mistake of not knowing the Scriptures or the power of God. If you are not reading it then you are not knowing it.
Know the power of God in the resurrection. He can restore whatever you have messed up.
We have hope of more because of Jesus. People are scared to die. Many are scared to live. Fears become so great that people don’t even want to leave their houses. The world is scary. People may hurt you. They may say things about you. But when you know the worst thing they can do to you is a very temporary effect you can find freedom. Ruined? Beyond repair? Not a chance!
A.W. Tozer: “Let no one apologize for the powerful emphasis Christianity lays upon the doctrine of the world to come. Right there lies its immense superiority to everything else within the whole sphere of human thought or experience… We do well to think of the long tomorrow. “
*Your trials may seem arduous and never ending.
Scripture calls them light and momentary.
The best days are not behind us, the present does not contain all that God provides. p97. They are to come.
Eternality of God. God is eternal. It is a perfection of his being. If he were not eternal he would not be perfect. And as we are in him through Christ, we have hope of eternity.
Power of God to restore. Power of God to make fit.
V [But those who are counted worthy to take part in that age and in the resurrection from the dead neither marry nor are given in marriage. For they cannot die anymore,
Jesus says it is only for those who are worthy, be thought of as deserving, having merited something. Stern rebuke. Were the Sadducees worthy. Were they behaving in a deserving manner.
You might wonder if Jesus understood New Testament theology. We can’t earn our salvation.
It is interesting. It is a passive verb. only passive in the New Testament be considered or regarded as worthy. A passive verb is one where the subject does not do the action but rather is acted up.
I hit the ball is active.
I was hit by the ball is passive.
All of us are unworthy for heaven, but the good news is that this wise sage is also the only Savior, and he comes to restore what is broken and bent. His words heal us. His work saves us. But you have to ask yourself if you are willing to entrust yourself to him.
Every house project I have ever done, was difficult to start. Am I really about to tear off the roof of my house, am iI really going to be able to install this new floor? But there comes a point where you realize you can’t go backward, and you can’t leave things the same. You know you need to make changes, you know the roof will only get worse. You have to commit to the project. But people all the time will hear how something will improve their lives and they just don’t want to make changes. They say no to the restoration.
It’s similar with Jesus. There comes a fork in the road and you have to decide what you will do. Will you trust his words and trust him to change you, or will you continue to hold on to the past and not surrender.