Saturday, March 10, 2012

B, Lent 3 Psalm 19:14 John 2:14-16 “Acceptable in His Sight”

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer. (Psalm 19:14 ESV)
In the temple Jesus found those who were selling oxen and sheep and pigeons, and the money-changers sitting there. 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. And he told those who sold the pigeons, "Take these things away; do not make my Father's house a house of trade." (John 2:14–16 ESV)
What makes one's muttering and musing acceptable to God? Out of the mouth and the heart comes words and thoughts too many to number. What makes them acceptable to God? Pleasing, desirable, delightful, favourable, and a joy to hear?
Jesus made a whip of chords and sets about driving them out of the temple. We know he was without sin, and so the actions and words, which came from his heart and mouth, were pleasing to God. Why were they pleasing to God when Jesus was anything but pleased himself?
Jesus himself says …everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, 'You fool!' will be liable to the hell of fire. (Matthew 5:22 ESV)
Jesus not only calls anger to account but says anger receives the same judgement as murder. Yet Jesus not only rages against those in the temple but while he was on his unbending march to the cross he said many things which insulted and were harsh to the ear.
To his disciples he constantly enquired, "Have you still no faith?" (Mark 4:40 ESV) Before his disciples he says to Peter, "Get behind me, Satan! For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man." (Mark 8:33 ESV) And even after the resurrection he rebuked them for their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they had not believed those who saw him after he had risen. (Mark 16:14 ESV)
His teaching didn't seem to encourage either, Jesus says… for from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person." (Mark 7:21–23 ESV)
…whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin"— (Mark 3:29 ESV). No one is good except God alone. (Mark 10:18 ESV) …go sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me." (Mark 10:21 ESV) …everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart. (Matthew 5:28 ESV)
He gets stuck right into the Pharisees for the self-righteousness of their piety, saying… You brood of vipers! How can you speak good, when you are evil? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. The good person out of his good treasure brings forth good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure brings forth evil. I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned." (Matthew 12:33–37 ESV)
Jesus calls the Jews hypocrites (Luke 6:42 ESV), even naming them murderers and liars; children of the devil (John 8:44–47 ESV). And he said to them, "You are those who justify yourselves before men, but God knows your hearts. For what is exalted among men is an abomination in the sight of God. (Luke 16:15 ESV)
And he came proclaiming much woe, "…woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation. "Woe to you who are full now, for you shall be hungry. "Woe to you who laugh now, for you shall mourn and weep. "Woe to you, when all people speak well of you, for so their fathers did to the false prophets. (Luke 6:24–26 ESV)
Jesus even cursed a fig tree for not producing fruit out of season. He said to it, "May no one ever eat fruit from you again." (Mark 11:13–14 ESV)
And knowing he was going to be crucified, how were these utterances and meditations pleasing to God? "Abba, Father, all things are possible for you. Remove this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will." (Mark 14:36 ESV) And just before death on the cross he cried out in a loud voice, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" (Mark 15:34 ESV)
Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer. (Psalm 19:14 ESV)
Put yourself in the hearing of all this. Jesus' words and meditations were pleasing to Yahweh, our Heavenly Father, but how do they sit with your hearing? Is Jesus acceptable to you? What would keep you going with him on his earthly ministry; as he marched to the cross?
Perhaps you might be encouraged to stay with him, because of some signs. Perhaps if he did some healings and miracles, you might put up with the mediocrity, the homelessness, the hardships, and the stinging statements of who you really are? Maybe not! Maybe you wouldn't!
Or maybe because of you inability to answer him, you might depart from him thinking this is just an exercise in madness. You might think his way is foolish and completely moronic. Mediocrity and much suffering for what… death and destruction! As if that makes any sense!
We respond today similar to those of Jesus' day. We look for signs and wonders. Something to titillate us in the meantime — while wisdom is sought from the collective reasoning of the mob. Still today the cross is a stumbling block and folly to many. Even amongst us inside the church, we seem to follow Peter, rather than Jesus Christ our Rock and Redeemer.
Am I standing on Christ the Solid Rock or am I tripping over it? Am I returning to my First Love, the God of love? Does this love manifest itself with words and meditations acceptable to he whose Word is perfect and holy?
We often need to be tripped up by something to find out its useful. Like the rock a horse called Norseman tripped over, whose rider was to discover the stumbling block was in fact gold.
And so too we find no need of a redeemer until we see clearly our inability to save ourselves. Where our First Love is lost and forgotten, One came to restore us and pay the price to have us reinstated as God's children.
Jesus is our Rock and Redeemer! His Word is harsh, rocking our lives, because it's true. But even more so he is the Rock who saves. Where we stumble over the Rock and are broken, he purchases us with his blood, more precious than silver or gold. We are set on Christ the Solid Rock!
Jesus was angry, he spoke harsh words over sin, and he gave you a sign, one that has eternal power over every sin that crushes you in this world. His anger glorified God, not himself, nor human sin. His words and meditations were honest, yet submissive to God.
Jesus' anger wasn't a foolish act but rather one which took our foolishness on himself, alone on the cross. You have the cross, and his resurrection from its death. To some that might seem foolish, but to me, a sinner, it's the wisest thing anyone's ever done for me! And it's my only chance of salvation from the foolishness of eternal death.
Put yourself in this place! On the Rock of Salvation you stand. You carry Christ and his perfection of the Law. When God sees you he sees his Son, Jesus; that is, the temple of his body, destroyed and raised from the dead in three days, in you!
Therefore, the words of your mouth and the meditation of your heart are acceptable in God's sight, when God sees his Son, Jesus Christ — your Rock and your Redeemer, in you. Amen.