church sign, 4/17/22


John 2:19-22; Mark 9:9-10

The resurrection was not a surprise. Jesus knew that he would be woken up from the dead and come out of his tomb on the first Easter morning. It was all part of God’s plan. He had to go to the cross, and he had to die there. He had to be buried in that borrowed tomb. Not one aspect of the life of Jesus was left to chance. It was all part of the plan.

Since it was part of the plan, we would expect Jesus to mention the fact that he would be dead for a few days, and then be raised. But Jesus didn’t spend a whole lot of time talking about that. He did let the cat out of the bag at least two times, however. We are going to look at those incidents this morning. The two passages of scripture just illustrate what I have been saying: that the resurrection was not a surprise. It was part of the plan.

Early in his public ministry, the Lord predicted his resurrection (John 2:19-22).

19 Jesus replied, “Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up again.” 20 Then the Jewish leaders said to him, “This temple has been under construction for forty-six years, and are you going to raise it up in three days?” 21 But Jesus was speaking about the temple of his body. 22 So after he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this, and they believed the scripture and the saying that Jesus had spoken.

Jesus and his disciples were fresh from Galilee, where he had just performed his first public miracle. In Cana, at a wedding feast, he turned the water into wine. That miracle revealed his glory, and it strengthened his disciples’ faith in him. After a few days with family in Capernaum, Jesus went to Jerusalem for the feast of Passover.

Has going to church ever made you mad? That’s what happened to Jesus. He went into the temple courts and he saw all the buying and selling of birds and beasts and the people making money by exchanging this coin for that. It made him mad. It made him violently mad. He was insulted by what he saw, and he felt like slapping them.

He made a weapon out of cords — a whip. He proceeded to chase every one of those bankers and merchants out of his Father’s house. He said “Take these things away from here! Do not make my Father’s house a marketplace!”

All this time his disciples were watching. They were learning. When he had made the water into wine, it revealed something about him — lots of things. The disciples had learned from that incident that Jesus had compassion for the master of the party. They learned that he cared about his mother, and wanted to give her what she was asking for. They learned that he cared about the couple being married, and he wanted them to have a happy wedding. Oh, and they learned that he had the power to convert ordinary water into wine — without it having to go through a long process of squashing grapes and letting them ferment!

Now, the time is different and the place is different. Now Jesus is in Jerusalem, at God’s temple. What are they learning about him here and now? John tells us that the disciples “remembered that it was written, “Zeal for your house will devour me.” You can tell a lot about a person by what makes him mad. Abuse of God’s temple just ate Jesus up. He was obsessed with anger over the disrespect he saw in the temple courts. For all those bankers and merchants, it was just business as usual. But for Jesus, it was an insult to the presence of God.

There is a time and a place for buying and selling. Jesus walked by merchants and bankers all the time. They didn’t enrage him when they did what they did at the right time and in the right place. But God’s house is God’s house. It has to be shown consideration and respect.

So the disciples are watching Jesus, and they are watching him get mad. And it wouldn’t be the last time. They would see Jesus get angry in a synagogue when there is a man with a withered hand, and people were watching to see if he would violate the laws against working on the Sabbath by healing him. That kind of legalism made Jesus mad.

Anger is an emotion, and as an emotion given to us by God when he created us, it has a legitimate place. Jesus was not controlled by his anger, and he taught us not to be controlled by our anger as well. But there is such a thing as righteous indignation.

But there were some Jewish leaders in the temple that day, and they didn’t think Jesus had the right to display his anger. They were just fine with those merchants and money-changers and birds and beasts. They wanted to defend the status quo. So, they asked Jesus “What sign can you show us, since you are doing these things?” They were looking for him to perform another miracle in defense of his outbreak.

Here we see the amazing self-control of our Lord. These Jewish leaders have just demanded that Jesus show them that he had the authority to force a change in their religious practice.

If I had been Jesus, I would have said “You want a sign, Okay, here’s your sign” and I would have unleashed all the power and wrath of God on them.

Folks, we need to remember that God is a God of wrath. His wrath sent the flood to destroy the world, saving only a handful in the ark. His wrath sent the plagues to Egypt. His wrath swallowed up Korah and his rebels. His wrath sent armies to serve his purposes by destroying his enemies. His wrath will one day be unleashed on all the unbelievers and rebellious in Gehenna hell, where Jesus tells us he will destroy soul and body.

It is a stupid and dangerous thing to ask the Son of God for a sign when he is angry. Fortunately for those religious leaders, Jesus chose to do something else besides annihilating them that day. Instead, he told them to “Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up again.”

Now, that got them thinking. They were not about to destroy their temple. They were proud of that temple. It had been under construction for about fifty years — so they doubted very much that Jesus would be able to reconstruct it in just three days.

Now, here is where John comes in with an editorial comment in his Gospel. He explains what Jesus meant. He says “Jesus was speaking about the temple of his body.

So after he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this, and they believed the scripture and the saying that Jesus had spoken.”

So, this was the first incident in which Jesus slipped in a little hint of his coming resurrection. It probably went over the heads of those religious leaders that day. It probably went over the heads of John and the other disciples that day too. They didn’t want to think about it. Resurrection requires a death, and they were certainly not prepared to think about Jesus’ death that day.

But the words that Jesus said that day stayed in their memories. Those words bounced around in their minds, and now and again something else that Jesus would say would cause them to remember those words again.

Jesus would later tell Nicodemus “Just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, so that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life.” Maybe his disciples stopped to think about what it meant for Jesus to be lifted up. Maybe a stray thought led them to imagine a cross. That would be an unpleasant thought — their master hanging on a cross. If they thought about it, they probably did not allow the thought to linger.

Jesus would tell his disciples that if they didn’t carry their cross and follow him that they cannot be his disciple. There was that cross again. What a bad thought it is. What a shameful, humiliating way to die. Surely our master is not going to die like that.

Thoughts like this keep coming back and bouncing around in their brains.

Two years later, the Lord predicted his resurrection again (Mark 9:9-10).

9 As they were coming down from the mountain, he gave them orders not to tell anyone what they had seen until after the Son of Man had risen from the dead. 10 They kept this statement to themselves, discussing what this rising from the dead meant.

Jesus had taken three of his disciples for a little mountain climbing. They hiked up a high mountain for a private show. When they got to the summit, they watched Jesus, and he “was transfigured before them, and his clothes became radiantly white, more so than any launderer in the world could bleach them. Then Elijah appeared before them along with Moses, and they were talking with Jesus. So Peter said to Jesus, ‘Rabbi, it is good for us to be here. Let us make three shelters — one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.’ (For they were afraid, and he did not know what to say.) Then a cloud overshadowed them, and a voice came from the cloud, “This is my one dear Son. Listen to him!” Suddenly when they looked around, they saw no one with them any more except Jesus.”

What was the purpose of this day trip to the summit of a mountain? Jesus was going to show them who he really is. He would undergo a metamorphosis and they would see Jesus in all his divine glory. They would learn from this experience as well. They would learn that Jesus was not to be compared to any of the great men and women who have ever lived. Not even Moses — the great law-giver, nor Elijah, the powerful miracle-working prophet can be compared to him. Jesus is the one. Jesus is the Messiah. Jesus is the one-and-only Son of God.

They saw Jesus as he really is. Now, as soon as they saw this amazing vision happen, all of a sudden it is over, and things are back to normal. Jesus tells them not to tell anybody else what they saw. What? I have just seen the Son of God in all his glory, and I have to keep silent? But Lord, people have to know who you really are! Okay, says Jesus. You can tell them, but wait “until after the Son of Man had risen from the dead.”

There he goes again. Lord, I don’t want you to have a resurrection. That would mean you would have to die. I don’t want you to have to die.

In the third year, Jesus would have a little Supper with his disciples. He would break some bread and give it to them. He would tell them that the bread represents his body — broken for them. He would raise a glass for them to drink. This is my blood, shed for many, for the forgiveness of sins.

There he is again, talking about his death. But in the back of their minds, there are these nagging words: “Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up again”; Don’t “tell anyone what you have seen until after the Son of Man had risen from the dead.” Just some stray thoughts.

They come for Jesus — for his trial and crucifixion. He dies on the cross. The disciples hide. Then, Sunday morning, the ladies come with a story. They say they have seen him. They say he’s alive!

Then they see him themselves. Look, they destroyed the temple, and he raised it again! The Son of Man has risen from the dead!

Remember what they demanded of Jesus that day in the temple? They asked him for a sign — a miracle to prove that he had the right to interfere in their business. He gave them this answer. He challenged them to destroy the temple of his own body. Go ahead he says. I dare you to kill me. You can nail me to a cross if you want to, and I know you do. It doesn’t matter. Death cannot hold me. In three days, I will rise again. Do all you can on Good Friday, because Easter is my holiday. I’m going to come out of that tomb.

“Aint no grave gonna keep my body down.”

Brother — sister — you might be asking the same thing today. You might be wondering what the fuss is about this Jesus. You might wonder what right he has to interfere with your life — to demand that you believe him — to require that you obey him. You might want to just do your business, but he’s making up a whip and is gonna drive you out of God’s house.

If you dare to ask Jesus what right he has to interfere with your life, his answer to you will be the same he gave those religious leaders that day in Jerusalem. His resurrection proves that he has the right. The resurrection proves that he is who he says he is. Rejoice this Easter Day because Jesus lives. But remember that the miracle he announced — the miracle of his resurrection — demands that every one of us acknowledges him.


Author: Jefferson Vann

Jefferson Vann is pastor of Piney Grove Advent Christian Church in Delco, North Carolina. You can contact him at -- !

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