Sermon: Authority to Cleanse the Temple (Luke 19:45-20:8)

Luke 19.45.20.8 click here for audio

Authority to Cleanse the Temple

Luke 19:45-20:8

TT- Jesus Christ has all authority in Heaven and on Earth and all people either submit to Him or perish.

Introduction

Our world is a world that resists authority.  We seek to throw off all ties that bind us.  We resist authority on all fronts.  The authorities in our lives are resisted.  Bosses, Teachers, Parents, Police, and the list could go in.  It’s also our human reaction to resist God.  We try to convince ourselves that we are in charge.  We don’t need God and we can do everything our self, just like the small child trying to tie their shoes who would rather trip over their shoestrings than have their parents help them.

There is however, one authority we will reckon with…the authority of Jesus Christ.

What does it mean when we say Jesus has all authority?

His disciples last week proclaimed Jesus to be King or Messiah.  In other words, they were proclaiming Him ruler of Israel.  Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord, was the announcement from His followers as He entered into Jerusalem.

When we say that Jesus has authority, it means that He is self-authorizing in His judgments and decisions.  Jesus never asked anyone on earth for permission to do anything.  All His decisions come from within His divine being.  He’s never manipulated or pressured into doing anything.  He does what He wants and everything He wants is always good and true.

At twelve years old Jesus was found by His parents in the Temple discussing the Law of God with the religious leaders of the day.  The Bible tells us in Luke 2, that they were astounded at His understanding and knowledge.

Luke 2:49 And he said to them, “Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?”

Years later at the outset of His ministry, John tells us that He basically began His public ministry with the first cleansing of the Temple.

John 2:13 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.”

The Jewish religious leaders resisted Him and as a couple of years went by they had taken over their former spots in and around the Temple court.  They were engaged in unscrupulous money trading and selling of sacrificial animals.  Some of this was actually ordained by God, however, they had taken what God said and turned it into a money making scheme.

Not only that but they were infringing on the ability for the Gentiles to worship because they were set up in the Court of the Gentiles, the place where the non-Jews could worship.

So, the big picture for us today is that Jesus has the authority to determine everything and command anything.  Specifically today, He has the right to command proper worship practices.  He does so here and He determines what is right for us today.  All who came to God in the OT came to Him through the Temple and its sacrifices that served as a covering until Christ came.  So, because of the corruption, the worship of God had to be purified if it was to be effective.

Please hear God’s Word for GCC Today,

Luke 19:45 And he entered the temple and began to drive out those who sold, 46 saying to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be a house of prayer,’ but you have made it a den of robbers.” 47 And he was teaching daily in the temple. The chief priests and the scribes and the principal men of the people were seeking to destroy him, 48 but they did not find anything they could do, for all the people were hanging on his words.

Luke 20:1 One day, as Jesus was teaching the people in the temple and preaching the gospel, the chief priests and the scribes with the elders came up 2 and said to him, “Tell us by what authority you do these things, or who it is that gave you this authority.” 3 He answered them, “I also will ask you a question. Now tell me,4 was the baptism of John from heaven or from man?” 5 And they discussed it with one another, saying, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will say, ‘Why did you not believe him?’ 6 But if we say, ‘From man,’ all the people will stone us to death, for they are convinced that John was a prophet.” 7 So they answered that they did not know where it came from. 8 And Jesus said to them, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I do these things.”

TT- Jesus Christ has all authority in Heaven and on Earth and all people either submit to Him or perish.

1. The Messiah’s Authority to Cleanse the Temple (Luke 19:45-48)

Luke 19:45 And he entered the temple and began to drive out those who sold, 46 saying to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be a house of prayer,’ but you have made it a den of robbers.” 47 And he was teaching daily in the temple. The chief priests and the scribes and the principal men of the people were seeking to destroy him, 48 but they did not find anything they could do, for all the people were hanging on his words.

Before we begin, it’s important for us to see from the OT that the Messiah would cleanse the Temple.  It was predicted that when the King came He would need to cleanse the Temple of its false priests and false practices.

Malachi 2 speaks in depth of the priest’s sin and how this was affecting their ministry to the people.

Malachi 3:1 “Behold, I send my messenger, and he will prepare the way before me. And the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple; and the messenger of the covenant in whom you delight, behold, he is coming, says the LORD of hosts.  2 But who can endure the day of his coming, and who can stand when he appears? For he is like a refiner’s fire and like fullers’ soap.

Notice what the prophet says, the Lord will come to His Temple and refine it or literally reform its practices so that God will accept the sacrifices again.

In its current condition, the Temple is useless.  It is not functioning as God had intended it to function.

A. No Longer a House of Prayer

Jesus’ phrase here, House of prayer is taken from Isaiah 56:7…

Isaiah 56:1 Thus says the LORD: “Keep justice, and do righteousness, for soon my salvation will come, and my deliverance be revealed.

2 Blessed is the man who does this, and the son of man who holds it fast, who keeps the Sabbath, not profaning it, and keeps his hand from doing any evil.”

3 Let not the foreigner who has joined himself to the LORD say, “The LORD will surely separate me from his people”; and let not the eunuch say, “Behold, I am a dry tree.”

4 For thus says the LORD: “To the eunuchs who keep my Sabbaths, who choose the things that please me and hold fast my covenant,

5 I will give in my house and within my walls a monument and a name better than sons and daughters; I will give them an everlasting name that shall not be cut off.

6 “And the foreigners who join themselves to the LORD, to minister to him, to love the name of the LORD, and to be his servants, everyone who keeps the Sabbath and does not profane it, and holds fast my covenant–

7 these I will bring to my holy mountain, and make them joyful in my house of prayer; their burnt offerings and their sacrifices will be accepted on my altar; for my house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples.”

8 The Lord GOD, who gathers the outcasts of Israel, declares, “I will gather yet others to him besides those already gathered.”  

The House of Prayer was specifically a place where Gentile believers were accepted.  They could worship and offer sacrifices just as the Israelites could.  They would not be cast off or forgotten.  This was God’s promise, yet the moneychangers and others engaged in unsanctioned business was a roadblock to the fulfillment of this promise.   So, Jesus must step in and purify the Temple.  He alone has the authority to do so.

B.  A den of robbers

Jesus quotes from Jeremiah 7:11

Jer 7:1 The word that came to Jeremiah from the LORD:

2 “Stand in the gate of the LORD’s house, and proclaim there this word, and say, Hear the word of the LORD, all you men of Judah who enter these gates to worship the LORD.

3 Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: Amend your ways and your deeds, and I will let you dwell in this place.

4 Do not trust in these deceptive words: ‘This is the temple of the LORD, the temple of the LORD, the temple of the LORD.’

5 “For if you truly amend your ways and your deeds, if you truly execute justice one with another,

6 if you do not oppress the sojourner, the fatherless, or the widow, or shed innocent blood in this place, and if you do not go after other gods to your own harm,

7 then I will let you dwell in this place, in the land that I gave of old to your fathers forever.

8 “Behold, you trust in deceptive words to no avail.

9 Will you steal, murder, commit adultery, swear falsely, make offerings to Baal, and go after other gods that you have not known,

10 and then come and stand before me in this house, which is called by my name, and say, ‘We are delivered!’–only to go on doing all these abominations?

11 Has this house, which is called by my name, become a den of robbers in your eyes? Behold, I myself have seen it, declares the LORD.

Literally, what Jesus is getting at is that these false worshippers and false priests were living wicked sinful lives 6 days a week, then, entering the Temple to worship God thinking that this would right all the wrongs they had engaged in all through the week.  He says, it’s like when thieves hid out in caves scheming together for the next robbery.  He tells them that they must change.

The same is true for us, do we live like we want to live 6 days and then come together on Sunday thinking that if I do my religious duty on Sunday, God will overlook all my sin Monday through Saturday?  Please understand God must have our devotion 7 days a week not just on Sunday.  If the Lord’s Day is to be truly a day set apart, we must be worshipping God consistently everyday.

Going through some religious motions will not make up for a sinful, selfish lifestyle.  God must have all of us and all our practices.

Our Lord had two big complaints that would not go on.

A. He purified the purpose of the Temple, it was to be a beacon for all people.

B.  It was not to be a money-making scam.

With these two things taken care of, Jesus began to teach the truths of God in the House of Prayer.  All the people listened intently.

all the people were hanging on his words.

Jesus Christ has all authority in Heaven and on Earth and all people either submit to Him or perish.

2. The Messiah’s Authority Questioned by the Religious Leaders (Luke 20:1-8)

Luke 20:1 One day, as Jesus was teaching the people in the temple and preaching the gospel, the chief priests and the scribes with the elders came up 2 and said to him, “Tell us by what authority you do these things, or who it is that gave you this authority.” 3 He answered them, “I also will ask you a question. Now tell me,4 was the baptism of John from heaven or from man?” 5 And they discussed it with one another, saying, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will say, ‘Why did you not believe him?’ 6 But if we say, ‘From man,’ all the people will stone us to death, for they are convinced that John was a prophet.” 7 So they answered that they did not know where it came from. 8 And Jesus said to them, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I do these things.”

We also know what it means to be under authority. All of us are both given some authority and under generally much more authority. But when it comes to Jesus Christ, authority is a very different reality. In Matthew 28:18 Jesus said this, “All authority is given unto Me in heaven and earth…all authority.” This is what it means to be absolutely sovereign. This is what it means to answer to no one outside yourself, to have all authority. Jesus demonstrated His authority in a number of ways.[1]

All through the Gospels we are shown that Jesus has all authority…

Teaching had authority-

Matthew 7:28 And when Jesus finished these sayings, the crowds were astonished at his teaching,

29 for he was teaching them as one who had authority, and not as their scribes.

Authority to Forgive Sin-

Luke 5:24 But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”–he said to the man who was paralyzed–“I say to you, rise, pick up your bed and go home.”

Authority over demonic power-

Luke 4:36 And they were all amazed and said to one another, “What is this word? For with authority and power he commands the unclean spirits, and they come out!”

He also has authority to save, to judge all men, to lay down His life, over all men.

Maybe a simple way to understand the essence of this authority is to grasp two Greek words that can be translated authority. The first one is dunamis usually translated power; it’s the power from which the English word dynamite comes. Dunamis refers to the ability to do something, the ability to do it. The other word is exousia. Exousia is the word usually translated authority such as in this text where the word authority appears three times. This means the right to do something. To have all authority then is to have all power and all right to do everything and anything one wills to do. He has the ability to do whatever He wants and He has the right to do whatever He wants with whomever or whatever He wants and this is having all authority. He has both dunamis and exousia. He has the power and He has the permission, He has it because He has…He is God. And even though He is incarnate, even though He is God come in human flesh, even though He has lowered Himself as a servant, He still has the power and the authority to do precisely what God wills Him to do. There are no limits to His power. No one can withstand His power. There are no limits to His ability. There are no limits also to His right. He has both the right and the ability to do everything He wills to do and He wills to do what is in perfect harmony with the Father. Consequently, and this is the important point, consequently, Jesus never in His earthly life asked permission to do anything…never. He never sought it from any normal channels in His ministry. There was no one higher other than His own Father and He said, “I always do what the Father tells Me to do, I always do what the Father shows Me to do, I always do and only do what the Father wills for Me to do.” No matter what it was, there was no authority to whom Jesus went.[2]

It was His Temple and He was reclaiming it from sinners.

The leaders asked Him, by what authority exousia do You do these things?  Who gave you the right to come in here and disrupt our way of life?  As all good Rabbis often did, Jesus responded to their question with one of His own.

He is out to expose their blatant hypocrisy and sin and He does it so well that they are steaming with rage.

Now tell me, 4 was the baptism of John from heaven or from man?”

Jesus uses the phrase, baptism of John to speak of John’s entire teaching and baptizing ministry.  Basically, was John’s ministry from God or from man?

The point here is that if they answer Jesus’ question then He will answer theirs.

They’re caught in a dilemma,

5 And they discussed it with one another, saying, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will say, ‘Why did you not believe him?’ 6 But if we say, ‘From man,’ all the people will stone us to death, for they are convinced that John was a prophet.”

Option #1- We can answer his ministry was from God.  However, if they answer it was from God then they would also be affirming what John taught.  Remember what John said, especially concerning Jesus?

One day Jesus shows up. John says, “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” John baptizes Jesus. The voice of the Father, “This is My beloved Son in whom I am well pleased.”

Luke 3:4 As it is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet, “The voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.

Luke 3:16 John answered them all, saying, “I baptize you with water, but he who is mightier than I is coming, the strap of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire.

17 His winnowing fork is in his hand, to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.”

Jn 1:29 The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! 

Jn 1:36 and he looked at Jesus as he walked by and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God!” 

If they say from God then they must endorse everything John taught, including what he taught about Jesus.  They will not do that.

Option #2- If they say from man, then they are very afraid that they will be stoned for blasphemy because the people knew John and saw him as a prophet.

Do you see how volatile this situation was?  The crowd could grab them and immediately stone them.  So, they take the politician’s approach…No Comment.

7 So they answered that they did not know where it came from.

Jesus, therefore, will not answer their question either.

Neither will I tell you by what authority I do these things.”

Jesus has nothing further to say to these religious leaders.  They had sealed their judgment.   He would continue to teach and reach out to the people who were coming into the Temple to hear Him but for these leaders, the door was shut.  He had nothing left to say to them.

There comes a time when the Lord stops speaking to lost people, stops trying to convince them by way of reason.  For the skeptic they stand on very shaky ground.   As Jonathan Edwards once said, it’s as if they are hanging by a thread over the pit of hell and that thread could break at any time.  How many times is God obligated to extend the Gospel to unbelievers before it is no longer offered?

For believers today, please understand that we must respond to Jesus as the Lord with all authority.  We must fear Him and obey Him.

Jesus Christ has all authority in Heaven and on Earth and all people either submit to Him or perish.

We are not only very quickly approaching the time of Jesus’ crucifixion but also His resurrection.  After His resurrection the Father even gives His Son more authority…

Eph. 1:20 that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places,

21 far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come.

22 And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church,

23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.

Our Lord has authority over the church just like He did over the Temple.  What if any purification would Jesus need to do in your life.  As the Temple of the Holy Spirit and as the spiritual temple made of living stones, what would Jesus’ reaction be to the way we worship and serve Him?

There is a day coming when all humanity, every person who has ever lived will bow before King Jesus and His awesome authority.  Some will bow sadly because the next stop for them will be eternal punishment.  Others will bow joyfully recognizing the authority of their King.  How will you bow?

Rev. 19:11 Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse! The one sitting on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he judges and makes war.

12 His eyes are like a flame of fire, and on his head are many diadems, and he has a name written that no one knows but himself.

13 He is clothed in a robe dipped in blood, and the name by which he is called is The Word of God.

14 And the armies of heaven, arrayed in fine linen, white and pure, were following him on white horses.

15 From his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron. He will tread the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty.

16 On his robe and on his thigh he has a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords.

TT- Jesus Christ has all authority in Heaven and on Earth and all people either submit to Him or perish.

 


[1] John MacArthur Sermon Luke 20:1-8

[2] ibid

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