• Our hope-filled future is bound up in sharing the story of Jesus, in discipling others, in bringing those disciples together into communities of believers, and in developing and releasing those believers to create other communities... till Jesus the King comes again!

the Temple

Today’s post comes from Amy in the Philippines about chapter 13: The Temple

Jesus, King of Kings, enters Jerusalem on a non-consequential donkey.  He is the Lion of Judah and the lamb on the throne.  He enters the courts of the Temple for the Jewish holiday of Passover and his concern is for the nations.  The curtain is torn, and the Temple takes a new role in the lives of God’s people.

Keller tells us that Jesus’ personality, that which is full of “perfect justice yet boundless grace, absolute sovereignty yet utter submission,” is a “complete and beautiful whole.”  And the wholeness of our God’s beautiful personality is passionately concerned for the holiness of his people, including the Gentile nations.

I love that Keller draws our attention to what Jesus is doing.  Honestly, I never noticed the part where Jesus says, “Is it not written: ‘My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations’?”  But Keller draws us to this point because, he says, Jesus is not only overturning tables of money-changers, but overturning the sacrificial system itself.  He’s standing up for those (the nations) who still don’t know that God is fighting for them.

He’s preparing them, and us, for the cross by challenging the system of sacrifice enacted by God.  Keller tells us of the sword that blocked the way for Adam and Eve to re-enter Eden.  And the “sword” that exacts the death sacrifice of animals to atone for sins.  And the sword that Jesus must face to take the penalty for us and bring us into the holy place.  Jesus’ pre-Passover time in the Temple wasn’t filled with traditional worship, but was a last declaration that the Temple the people knew would never suffice again.  There was a new Temple now, known in the Body of Christ, and it was for all people.

But the most challenging part of this chapter for me is the parable of the fig.  Finally I know now, thanks to Keller, that Jesus’ curse on the fig tree was not unjust, but because the tree was meant to be fruitful even when not bearing figs; it was essentially not doing its job.  And neither was the sacrificial system of Israel.  And Keller asks us readers, “…is it clear to the people who know you best that your character is undergoing radical regeneration?”  In other words, are you a fruitless fig?

And that, Keller tells us, is Jesus’ challenge to us all: “Jesus, who unites such apparent extremes of character into such an integrated and balanced whole, demands an extreme response from every one of us…This man who throws open the gates of his kingdom to everyone, then warns the most devout insiders that their standing in the kingdom is in jeopardy without fruitfulness.”

Does your life and ministry show that Jesus is the one who opens the Kingdom? 

Or are you filling the courts of your work with activities or goals or objectives that get in the way of His purpose (i.e. creating a sacrificial system of your own)?

Are you fruitful where it counts? 

And I couldn’t ask it better than Keller: “Is it clear to the people who know you best that your character is undergoing radical regeneration?”


Next installment of the King’s Cross blog post will be September 10th, looking at Ch 14 “the Feast”

2 Responses

  1. Wow, this is a great challenge. To be sure, I have generated a few of my own “sacrificial systems” – all of them putting me at the centre of things. The amazing thing I find is that when truths are revealed to us, and we repent of them (I for one, repent, aghast that He should have seen/experienced this for so long with me being unaware), He is gracious, faithful and just to forgive, and to cleanse. What an amazing Saviour!

    • Amy hit at the ‘heart’ of our problem, namely that our heart is an ‘idol producing factory’ capable of always searching for new ways to prop up self rather than Christ. Repentance is one step, followed by faith (casting our trust once again) in the sure promises of Christ.

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