2412 Griffith Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90011   (213) 748-0318   info@secondbaptistchurchla.org

SECOND BAPTIST CHURCH OF LOS ANGELES


Inspirational messages for Sunday July 19 through Saturday July 25, 2020.1

Managing the Sanctity of the Sacred

12After this he went down to Capernaum, he, and his mother, and his brethren, and his disciples: and they continued there not many days. 13And the Jews’ Passover was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem, 14And found in the temple those that sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the changers of money sitting: 15And when he had made a scourge of small cords, he drove them all out of the temple, and the sheep, and the oxen; and poured out the changers’ money, and overthrew the tables; 16And said unto them that sold doves, Take these things hence; make not my Father’s house an house of merchandise. 17And his disciples remembered that it was written, The zeal of thine house hath eaten me up. 

John 2:12-17

Introduction 
 
We are continuing to practice social distancing due to corona virus Covid-19.  Let me remind you that this self isolation was imposed by virtue of being cautious and careful as we manage our lives during an unprecedented occurrence beyond our control.  You are the only one who can promote your spiritual growth and development.  What you do will either increase your appreciation or diminish your understanding.  Confusion can eclipse commitment, doubt can diminish delight, obstacles can obscure opportunity and perplexity can weaken praise.  Take this time to strengthen your spirituality by increasing your understanding of the meaning of what is more important about life and living.  I cited in March when we vacated our sacred space that this is a good time to realign our allegiances, reassess our commitments,  refresh our memories, and reorder our priorities.

The passage that claims our attention today is about Jesus and the sacred space that was being desecrated.

There is an association between places, purposes and practices.  We do certain things in particular places because they are designed for the purpose of specific practices.  Arenas and stadiums are places where indoor and outdoor concerts, sporting events and large gatherings occur.  Convention centers are massive indoor spaces that accommodate an assortment of activities from multiple groups at a time.  Museums are places where artifacts of historical significance are kept which depict the development of the world in all of its infinite variety.  Planetariums are built primarily for presenting educational and entertaining shows about astronomy and related fields and training in celestial navigation.   Libraries are places where a large collection of books, periodicals, films or other information sources including those that are digital are kept. Greenhouses are buildings in which plants are grown.  Churches are buildings used for worship, fellowship, meeting, greeting, learning and discerning.  I think you get the point.  Certain places are designed for the purpose of certain practices. All of the aforementioned places are symbolic of what takes place at their venue.  
 
I want to suggest that the church as a congregation of believers in Christ makes us aware of the necessity of maintaining the sanctity of the sacred against the tug and pull of the insensitivity of selfishness.  As a congregation we are constantly reminded of the source of our existence, the One in whom we live and move and have our being (Acts 17:28) as well as the purpose and potential of our lives from the source of our existence.

We are reminded that we are made in the image and likeness of God (Genesis 1:26).  Beyond the influence of culture, conditioning and circumstances being made in God's image reminds us of the privilege to make the best choice or the worst choice for our lives or even a mediocre choice.  
 
Consider what it means for you that you are made in the image and likeness of God.

Monday July 20, 2020

12After this he went down to Capernaum, he, and his mother, and his brethren, and his disciples: and they continued there not many days. 13And the Jews’ Passover was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem, 14And found in the temple those that sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the changers of money sitting: 15And when he had made a scourge of small cords, he drove them all out of the temple, and the sheep, and the oxen; and poured out the changers’ money, and overthrew the tables; 16And said unto them that sold doves, Take these things hence; make not my Father’s house an house of merchandise. 17And his disciples remembered that it was written, The zeal of thine house hath eaten me up. 

John 2:12-17

The incident of Jesus cleansing the temple is found in all of the gospels (Matthew 21:12-16, Mark 11:15-18, Luke 19:45-48 and John 2:12-17).  Matthew, Mark and Luke put the incident near the end of Jesus’ ministry and John put it at the beginning. A summary of the event as it unfolds highlights the importance of maintaining the sanctity of the sacred.  Jesus went to the temple during the Passover season of the year to observe this significant ritual of his faith tradition.  Jesus and his family and disciples went to Jerusalem from Capernaum.  Jerusalem was where the temple was.  This was not the first temple built by Solomon (I Kings 67) or the second temple, rebuilt after the Babylonian captivity (Ezra 6:15).  This was the third temple built by Herod. 

It was during the period of the feast of the Passover.  The Passover celebration commemorated the deliverance of the Israelites from Egypt, when the death angel passed over every home where the first Passover was observed and the blood of the paschal lamb was placed on the two door posts and the lintel (Exodus 12 – 13).  The celebration of the Passover also commenced the feast of unleavened bread.  The Feast of Unleavened Bread (Exodus 23:15; Deuteronomy 16:16) is often called Passover because only unleavened bread was eaten during these seven days immediately following Passover (Exodus 12:15-20; 13:6-8; Deuteronomy 16:3-8). Unleavened bread reflected the fact that the Israelites had no time to put leaven in their bread before their hasty departure from Egypt; it was also apparently connected to the barley harvest (Leviticus 23:4-14). The entire Passover celebration took an entire week.

Consider what you observe as a way of acknowledging what your faith tradition means to you. 


Tuesday July 21, 2020

12After this he went down to Capernaum, he, and his mother, and his brethren, and his disciples: and they continued there not many days. 13And the Jews’ Passover was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem, 14And found in the temple those that sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the changers of money sitting: 15And when he had made a scourge of small cords, he drove them all out of the temple, and the sheep, and the oxen; and poured out the changers’ money, and overthrew the tables; 16And said unto them that sold doves, Take these things hence; make not my Father’s house an house of merchandise. 17And his disciples remembered that it was written, The zeal of thine house hath eaten me up. 

John 2:12-17

A great many people thronged to Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover, as they did to the Feast of Tabernacles and the Feast of Pentecost.  People gathered from far and near to participate.  It is difficult to estimate the influx of people to Jerusalem, not only from other parts of Israel, but from all over the world.  A lot of activity was occurring.  However, the activity that was occurring was not consistent with the purpose of the place and the practices the place was designed to accommodate. 

What Jesus sees going on troubles him a great deal!  He expresses his displeasure with an incensed commanding and dramatic behavior.  What Jesus says and what his disciples remember give us a clue about managing the sanctity of the sacred.  15And when he had made a scourge of small cords, he drove them all out of the temple, and the sheep, and the oxen; and poured out the changers’ money, and overthrew the tables; (John 2:15) And He said to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer,’ but you have made it a ‘den of thieves.’ ” New King James Version

 
Consider what Jesus' example suggests about those who are disciples of his about expressing their faith sometimes uncharacteristically about the sanctity of the sacred. 


Wednesday July 22, 2020


16And said unto them that sold doves, Take these things hence; make not my Father’s house an house of merchandise.

The business that was being transacted interfered with the purpose of the temple.  The temple was to be a house of prayer for all nations (Mark 11:17).  The outer courts of the temple are the only places where Gentiles could worship.  They are not allowed to pas beyond a certain point (Acts 21:27-30).  If the outer courts are filled with oxen and lambs and doves, there is not place for Gentile to gather to pray and worship God.  Can you imagine trying to pray in the midst of a virtual stockyard, with all the noises of the animals and the bickering businessmen?  Can you conceive of trying to squeeze in between cattle which are tied up in the courts?  Think of what it would b like to have to watch where you walked, lest you step in something undesirable?  It appears that Gentile worship is functionally prohibited.  This makes it virtually impossible for some to worship and pray and praise God. 

The building itself is a reminder of that which celebrates and confirms the reality of the presence of the Lord in your life and the world.  They were observing the Passover.  They gathered to remember how the Lord liberated them from bondage and slavery and celebrate God’s activity in their lives.  In this sacred space they reflected on the memories of a national history.  They remembered the sacrifices that were made, the prayers that were prayed, the hope that was experienced and the fulfillment of dreams so long deferred. 

When you think of all of the memories that are part of this place, you cannot help but sensed the ineffable presence "in whom we live and move and have our being." (Acts 17:28)  We begin to recognize that there is more to life than we can see, there is more than mind and body, there is spirit that infuses us with the life, love and liberty for which we are grateful. 

Consider what makes your sacred space special with memories that bring to mind what the awareness of the presence of the Lord has done for you. 


Thursday July 23, 2020

14And found in the temple those that sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the changers of money sitting: 15And when he had made a scourge of small cords, he drove them all out of the temple, and the sheep, and the oxen; and poured out the changers’ money, and overthrew the tables; 16And said unto them that sold doves, Take these things hence; make not my Father’s house an house of merchandise. 17And his disciples remembered that it was written, The zeal of thine house hath eaten me up. 

John 2:12-17

Jesus quotes scripture. The temple should have been a house of prayer (Isa. 56:7), but they had made it a den of thieves (Jer. 7:11) or a house of merchandise (John 2:16). It was said that this proved His zeal for God's house by his disciples (Psalm 69:9). 
 
Jesus was clear about the purpose of the sacred space.  The temple is a place of prayer for all people (Isaiah 56:7).  The purpose of sacred space / place is to be a house of prayer for all people.  Bring them from far and near.  Come let your request be made know to the Lord.  Come worship and adore the matchless mercy and gracious grace that the Lord bestows.  Come atone for your misgivings and receive the forgiving your need.  Come, this is a house of prayer for all people.  None will be excluded, overlooked.  All are welcomed.  Come.

Consider how you would describe the meaning and purpose of the sacred space where your gather.

 
Friday July 24, 2020

16And said unto them that sold doves, Take these things hence; make not my Father’s house an house of merchandise. 17And his disciples remembered that it was written, The zeal of thine house hath eaten me up.  John 2:16-17

Jesus exposed those who were desecrating the sanctity of the sacred space turning it into using .   You have made this a den of robbers and thieves (Jeremiah 7:11).  There were those who saw in the celebrations and observances of the rituals of remembrances an opportunity to enhance their selfish desires. 

The sanctity of the sacred is desecrated when what is sacred is used to take advantage of people.  Celebrations and observances in sacred spaces point to the liberating, reconciling and transforming activity of God.  We gather to reflect on what God has done, is doing and is going to do.  We wait with bated breath.  We anticipate with faith and hope.  We look back with thanksgiving. 

The activities, which Jesus removed, pertained indirectly to the worship.  The animals were offered for sacrifice, and the money was changed so that people would have had the right amount of money to give for temple taxes or perhaps to pay for sacrifices.  Some of the persons were overcharging for their products to take advantage of people who needed sacrifices but could not easily obtain them elsewhere.  So God’s worship requirements were being used as a means to defraud and use others for personal gain.  This was a perversion of the purpose of the temple. 

The businessmen were not concerned about the purpose of the place.  Not only were the moneychangers robbing the people, but history records that excessive prices were

being charged by those who were selling animals used in Temple sacrifice.

For example, according to Leviticus 12:6-8, after an Israelite woman had given birth, she was to bring a sacrifice to the temple, preferably a sheep. But if she was poor

and could not afford the price of a sheep, she could take two doves or two pigeons for the sacrifice, one for a burnt offering and one for a sin offering.

The Jewish Mishna states, that because of their greed, those who were selling birds rose their prices so much that the poorer woman of the community could not afford them. That which is sacred selfish motives get in the way. 

Consider what you think would desecrate the sanctity of the sacred space where you worship. 


Saturday July 25, 2020

17And his disciples remembered that it was written, The zeal of thine house hath eaten me up.  John 2:12-17

His disciples remember that passage from Psalm 69:9 where it says, zeal of thine house hath eaten me up.  Religious faith expresses it desire, passion and zeal for what one believes.  Jesus was zealous for the faith of his tradition and the symbolism of the space where people gathered to commemorate those observances, rituals and traditions. 

Zeal is represented under the idea of heat - as it is in the Greek language; and the characteristics of heat or fire are here applied to it. This passage is quoted in John 2:17, and applied to the Savior, not as having had originally a reference to him, but as language which would accurately describe his character. thus cleansing of the temple is a description of what happened. 

Zeal is a subject, like many others in religion, which is sadly misunderstood. Many would be ashamed to be thought of as zealous Christians. Many are ready to say of zealous people what Festus said of Paul: "You are out of your mind, Paul!" he shouted, "Your great learning is driving you insane" (Acts 26:24).

I like the term aficionado as an expression synonymous with zealous.  Persons who are knowledgeable and enthusiastic about an activities, beliefs and practices.  These persons are connoisseurs, enthusiasts, and devotees of their faith traditions as meaningful, significant and sacred.  The space is symbolic of the belief that occasions the commemoration.  Just as there are aficionados of every type such as sports aficionados, movie aficionados, theater aficionados, trivia aficionados, history aficionados and you name it.  There are faith aficionados who are knowledgeable and enthusiastic about practicing their faith.  

Consider what it means to you to be zealous for the sacred space where you gather to commemorate practicing your faith tradition's observances. 

Conclusion

I love Thy kingdom, Lord, / The place of Thine abode, / The church our blest Redeemer saved / With His own precious blood.
I love Thy church, O God; / Her walls before Thee stand, / Dear as the apple of Thine eye, / And graven on Thy hand.