The King's Authority . . Pt. 1 Mt. 21:12 - 23
Topic: Sunday AM Passage: Matthew 21:12–21:13
12And Jesus entered the temple and drove out all those who were buying and selling in the temple, and overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who were selling doves. 13And He said to them, “It is written, ‘MY HOUSE SHALL BE CALLED A HOUSE OF PRAYER’; but you are making it a ROBBERS’ DEN.”
14And the blind and the lame came to Him in the temple, and He healed them. 15But when the chief priests and the scribes saw the wonderful things that He had done, and the children who were shouting in the temple, “Hosanna to the Son of David,” they became indignant 16and said to Him, “Do You hear what these children are saying?” And Jesus said to them, “Yes; have you never read, ‘OUT OF THE MOUTH OF INFANTS AND NURSING BABIES YOU HAVE PREPARED PRAISE FOR YOURSELF’?” 17And He left them and went out of the city to Bethany, and spent the night there.
18Now in the morning, when He was returning to the city, He became hungry. 19Seeing a lone fig tree by the road, He came to it and found nothing on it except leaves only; and He said to it, “No longer shall there ever be any fruit from you.” And at once the fig tree withered.
20Seeing this, the disciples were amazed and asked, “How did the fig tree wither all at once?” 21And Jesus answered and said to them, “Truly I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what was done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and cast into the sea,’ it will happen. 22“And all things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive.”
23When He entered the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people came to Him while He was teaching, and said, “By what authority are You doing these things, and who gave You this authority?”
We have said over and over that Matthews book is about Jesus as King. And as such, almost every story Matthew tells has the authority-to-reign of Jesus as it's underlying theme.
Authority over demons. Authority over sickness and disease. Authority to create food from nothing. Authority over the wind and the sea. Authority over the sabbath. Authority to teach God's word as author and not commentator. Authority to control His destiny
Matthew will end his book with these words. “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth."
Every molecule. Every atom of matter in the universe belongs to Him. Every spirit being that our minds can't yet imagine that has no material substance, however that might work, also falls under His authority. He is King over everything. Authority.
This morning, we'll see Him walk into this house with His Father's name on it, that He owns, and He's going to do some house cleaning for His Father.
He owns it. His Father is displeased with the tenants. And Jesus is going to evict them from His property. Temporarily. They'll be back. But they will have been put on notice of the final eviction. Within 2 score more years, Rome will come and take that building apart brick by brick in order to retrieve every flake of the gold it was adorned with.
This seems perfectly feasible and logical given my introduction. But to the folks who were present that day, it would be very like one man walking past all the security guards right into the oval office and tipping the desk over, papers flying, and driving the tenant out of the white house. Oh my!
The feasibility is so miniscule that we would be dismissive and when we found out that yes, it actually happened just as fox news said, it would be jaw dropping to the point of miraculous power. How in the world?? How did one man walk in and do that??
Well, it turns out that Jesus is the landlord. He owns the temple. We can get our heads around that. But think about this for a minute. He's also the landlord of 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. He owns the White House. He owns the United Nations building. He owns no. 10 Downing Street in London. He owns Vatican City in Rome. And He owns every other palace that holds a reigning monorch on this earth.
The logical conclusion is, He can clean house and evict tenants when it pleases Him. No questions asked.
Let me hit the pause button on Matthews story about the authority of Jesus over everything and take you to an ancient King who found out about what I'm talking about this morning, the authority of God to reign over everything, and to do His pleasure at any time it pleases Him over the most powerful king in all the earth.
Sit back, relax for a minute, and listen as I read to you the account of Nebuchadnezzar, ruler of the whole known world in the time of Daniel, in his own words. Daniel chapter 4.
1 Nebuchadnezzar the king; to all the peoples, nations, and men of every language that live in all the earth: “May your peace abound! 2“It has seemed good to me to declare the signs and wonders which the Most High God has done for me.
3“How great are His signs
And how mighty are His wonders!
His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom
And His dominion is from generation to generation.
4“I, Nebuchadnezzar, was at ease in my house and flourishing in my palace. 5“I saw a dream and it made me fearful; and these fantasies as I lay on my bed and the visions in my mind kept alarming me. 6“So I gave orders to bring into my presence all the wise men of Babylon, that they might make known to me the interpretation of the dream. 7“Then the magicians, the conjurers, the Chaldeans and the diviners came in and I related the dream to them, but they could not make its interpretation known to me.
8“But finally Daniel came in before me, whose name is Belteshazzar according to the name of my god, and in whom is a spirit of the holy gods; and I related the dream to him, saying, 9‘O Belteshazzar, chief of the magicians, since I know that a spirit of the holy gods is in you and no mystery baffles you, tell me the visions of my dream which I have seen, along with its interpretation.
10‘Now these were the visions in my mind as I lay on my bed: I was looking, and behold, there was a tree in the midst of the earth and its height was great.
11‘The tree grew large and became strong
And its height reached to the sky,
And it was visible to the end of the whole earth.
12‘Its foliage was beautiful and its fruit abundant,
And in it was food for all.
The beasts of the field found shade under it,
And the birds of the sky dwelt in its branches,
And all living creatures fed themselves from it.
13‘I was looking in the visions in my mind as I lay on my bed, and behold, an angelic watcher, a holy one, descended from heaven.
14‘He shouted out and spoke as follows:
“Chop down the tree and cut off its branches,
Strip off its foliage and scatter its fruit;
Let the beasts flee from under it
And the birds from its branches.
15“Yet leave the stump with its roots in the ground,
But with a band of iron and bronze around it
In the new grass of the field;
And let him be drenched with the dew of heaven,
And let him share with the beasts in the grass of the earth.
16“Let his mind be changed from that of a man
And let a beast’s mind be given to him,
And let seven periods of time pass over him.
17“This sentence is by the decree of the angelic watchers
And the decision is a command of the holy ones,
In order that the living may know
That the Most High is ruler over the realm of mankind,
And bestows it on whom He wishes
And sets over it the lowliest of men.”
18‘This is the dream which I, King Nebuchadnezzar, have seen. Now you, Belteshazzar, tell me its interpretation, inasmuch as none of the wise men of my kingdom is able to make known to me the interpretation; but you are able, for a spirit of the holy gods is in you.’
19“Then Daniel, whose name is Belteshazzar, was appalled for a while as his thoughts alarmed him. The king responded and said, ‘Belteshazzar, do not let the dream or its interpretation alarm you.’ Belteshazzar replied, ‘My lord, if only the dream applied to those who hate you and its interpretation to your adversaries!
20‘The tree that you saw, which became large and grew strong, whose height reached to the sky and was visible to all the earth 21and whose foliage was beautiful and its fruit abundant, and in which was food for all, under which the beasts of the field dwelt and in whose branches the birds of the sky lodged— 22it is you, O king; for you have become great and grown strong, and your majesty has become great and reached to the sky and your dominion to the end of the earth.
23‘In that the king saw an angelic watcher, a holy one, descending from heaven and saying, “Chop down the tree and destroy it; yet leave the stump with its roots in the ground, but with a band of iron and bronze around it in the new grass of the field, and let him be drenched with the dew of heaven, and let him share with the beasts of the field until seven periods of time pass over him,”
24this is the interpretation, O king, and this is the decree of the Most High, which has come upon my lord the king: 25that you be driven away from mankind and your dwelling place be with the beasts of the field, and you be given grass to eat like cattle and be drenched with the dew of heaven; and seven periods of time will pass over you, until you recognize that the Most High is ruler over the realm of mankind and bestows it on whomever He wishes.
26‘And in that it was commanded to leave the stump with the roots of the tree, your kingdom will be assured to you after you recognize that it is Heaven that rules. 27‘Therefore, O king, may my advice be pleasing to you: break away now from your sins by doing righteousness and from your iniquities by showing mercy to the poor, in case there may be a prolonging of your prosperity.’
28“All this happened to Nebuchadnezzar the king. 29“Twelve months later he was walking on the roof of the royal palace of Babylon. 30“The king reflected and said, ‘Is this not Babylon the great, which I myself have built as a royal residence by the might of my power and for the glory of my majesty?’
31“While the word was in the king’s mouth, a voice came from heaven, saying, ‘King Nebuchadnezzar, to you it is declared: sovereignty has been removed from you, 32and you will be driven away from mankind, and your dwelling place will be with the beasts of the field. You will be given grass to eat like cattle, and seven periods of time will pass over you until you recognize that the Most High is ruler over the realm of mankind and bestows it on whomever He wishes.’
33“Immediately the word concerning Nebuchadnezzar was fulfilled; and he was driven away from mankind and began eating grass like cattle, and his body was drenched with the dew of heaven until his hair had grown like eagles’ feathers and his nails like birds’ claws.
34“But at the end of that period, I, Nebuchadnezzar, raised my eyes toward heaven and my reason returned to me, and I blessed the Most High and praised and honored Him who lives forever;
For His dominion is an everlasting dominion,
And His kingdom endures from generation to generation.
35“All the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing,
But He does according to His will in the host of heaven
And among the inhabitants of earth;
And no one can ward off His hand
Or say to Him, ‘What have You done?’
36“At that time my reason returned to me. And my majesty and splendor were restored to me for the glory of my kingdom, and my counselors and my nobles began seeking me out; so I was reestablished in my sovereignty, and surpassing greatness was added to me. 37“Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise, exalt and honor the King of heaven, for all His works are true and His ways just, and He is able to humble those who walk in pride.”
How wise it would be for those who are working to be the next tenant in the white house, to read and understand the words of this gentile king who ruled over the entire world.
We're talking about power and authority that laughs at the most powerful man on earth. Laughs. He can turn him into a cow for 7 years and then turn him back into a more powerful sovereign than before. Just Like That
OK, that's a proper introduction for what we'll look at this morning.
Vs. 12 And Jesus entered the temple and drove out all those who were buying and selling in the temple, and overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who were selling doves.
We have excellent scolarship available to paint a picture of what the temple situation would have looked like when Jesus walked in that morning. People like Alfred Edersheim who came from a jewish background in the late 1800's and wrote compilations of the available history of the jews.
We have Josephus from the same century as Jesus. Massive documentary of Jesus time frame and this place.
This was not Soloman's temple. This was known as Herod's temple. It was a reconstruction of Zerubbabels temple that was built after the Babylonian captivity.
It must have incorporated much of that second temple because Herod made a compact with the priests of Israel that worship and sacrifices would not be interrumpted during the construction period. Herod's purpose was to ingratiate himself to the jews and to build structures that would perpetuate his name. This temple was his crown jewel.
Parts of it were covered completely in gold and it glistened like a jewel on top of mount moriah. The temple tax that is mentioned in these stories in different places was put in place in order to perpetuate the glory of this house.
Within the temple complex were different courts. The court of the gentiles was like the outer plaza where anyone could go. Then an inner area where only jews could go. Within this was the court of the women where all jews could enter. Farther in was the court of the Israelites where jewish men could go and watch the court of the priests who were doing sacrifices.
Beyond all this was the Holy of Holies where only the high priest went, once a year, to make sacrifice for sins for all the peoples.
Our story this morning takes place in the court of the gentiles.
Josephus tells us about the bazaar of Annas. Annas was the high priest before Jesus and he began a dynasty of high priests that were all related to him. He had 5 sons who also reigned as high priest, and one son in law that we will meet again later. His name was Caiaphus.
Annas instituted this bazaar of sellers and controlled who could be there, and of course, became rich collecting a portion from each.
Here's a little picture of what was happening;
The jews considered Roman numismatics an abomination to God, so they required the temple giving to be in tyrian money. Thus, when you got to the temple grounds, your roman money was no good. You had to exchange it for tyrian money. And you guessed it. The exchange rate was about 4:1. In Annas favor of course. Those were the money changers mentioned. Jesus tipped their booths over and sent their money flying everywhere.
Then, suppose you lived out in the country some where and you wanted to give your children a biblical object lessen. A lamb is born in your little flock and you notice it is spotless. A perfect little lamb. So it becomes a pet in your household and your children name it and raise it.
You take that spotless lamb on pilgrimage with you and your children to Jerusalem to offer something of real value to the whole family, up to God, sacrificially in the temple.
Annas has inspectors in place. Some defect will inevitably be found and you will be required to purchase a sacrificial lamb from the animal sellers at the bazaar in order to complete the sacrifice. And the cost will be about 4 times the value of your perfect little lamb. Anything purchased from the sellers automatically passes inspection.
If you're poor, you'll have to purchase a dove or two. And these will be up to 10 times street value.
And that's what's going on at God's house in the name of worship. And the people are helpless to do anything about it. There are temple police to keep order, and in fact the jews had permission and blessing from the Romans to kill someone who defiled the jewish temple.
Jesus walks in one morning and turns the whole thing on it's head, turns all of the tables over, sends the money flying and the animals running and shuts it down. And not without driving everyone out of the place!
How does that happen. How can one man accomplish something like this?
Well, this is the same man that knocked over an entire Roman regiment of soldiers with 3 words. I AM He. Like some earlier soldiers who were sent to seize Him and could not, who reported to the authorities who were trying to understand what just happened, "Never a man spoke, like this man!"
He spoke the worlds into existence. When He returns the sword that comes out of His mouth will slay all of the wicked nations. There is power in His words! But this day; He gets a little physical.
Vs. 12 And Jesus entered the temple and drove out all those who were buying and selling in the temple, and overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who were selling doves
That word drove is the same word that ranchers are familiar with. People who move cattle from place to place are called; drovers. They have the power to move herds of cattle along.
Jesus drove the bazaar of Annas and all of it's participants out of the temple like a drover drives cattle or sheep. It's a good picture. He left chaos in His path. Doves flying. Money scattered. Tables tipped over. Sheep fleeing. Quite a scene.
Add to this scene the fact that at Passover, Jerusalem would be teaming with pilgrims from all over the land. Thousands of people. The temple plaza would have been packed.
The landlord came, and for this day at least, the house is cleansed.
13And He said to them, “It is written, ‘MY HOUSE SHALL BE CALLED A HOUSE OF PRAYER’; but you are making it a ROBBERS’ DEN.”
I couldn't help but be reminded of Dottie Wests old song. Remember it? Put your hand in the hand of the man from Galilee.
The second verse goes like this;
Well, every time I look into the holy book
I wanna tremble
When I read about the part
Where the carpenter cleared the temple
For the buyers and the sellers were no different fellers
Than what I profess to be
And it causes me shame to know
we're not the people we should be.
We look around at evangelicalism these days and the money is flowing like water.
We could point our fingers at some of the more bizarre extravagance. Faith healers and prosperity gospel televangelists who fly around in 70 million dollar jets. That's just low hanging fruit. I don't include them in evagelicalism proper.
I'm concerned about churches with coffee bars. I'm uncomfortable with profit taking of any kind, especially when it's something like designer coffee that is solely for my personal comfort. The big jets are obvious. But the little stuff worries me too.
Is the coffee and the music consumed for my personal comfort and pleasure? Does it really honor God for me to have a rock band and a theatre seat and a cup of designer coffee?
Have we forgotten that Peter says; (1Peter 4:17) For it is time for judgment to begin with the household of God
Do we think that Jesus cleansed His Father's house in Jerusalem that day, but somehow He won't do the same to us??
This story should make us constantly take stock of who we are, and how we compare to God's biblical design for the church until He comes.
When I sat down to study, I never dreamed we'd only get through 2 verses this morning. I think that may be a record.
Final thoughts take us full circle to where we began our thoughts this morning. Authority.
Vs. 13 And He said to them, “It is written, ‘MY HOUSE SHALL BE CALLED A HOUSE OF PRAYER’; but you are making it a ROBBERS’ DEN.”
He combines words from 2 different prophets here. First, Isaiah pictures God's house reaching beyond Israel and becoming a welcoming respite for all Nations.
Isaiah 56:7 says; Even those I will bring to My holy mountain And make them joyful in My house of prayer. Their burnt offerings and their sacrifices will be acceptable on My altar; For My house will be called a house of prayer for all the peoples."
God never intended for Israel to be a cul-de-sac. A dead end street. They were to be a source of revealed truth from the One true God, to all of the nations. Nations, meet your God. Come, worship Him in His house.
But Israel wandered and Jeremiah looks at the same truth and says;
"Has this house, which is called by My name, become a den of robbers in your sight? Behold, I, even I, have seen it," declares the LORD.
They would have been familiar with those verses. But what I want you to see is something astounding in view of what Jesus has just done.
He doesn't say; The prophet Isaiah says, and then The prophet Jeremiah says; as one quoting a higher source like their leaders and teachers might do. He said to them;
“It is written, ‘MY HOUSE SHALL BE CALLED A HOUSE OF PRAYER’; but you are making it a ROBBERS’ DEN.”
He says it differently than the prophets and the teachers and the scribes and the lawyers. He says this as one who OWNS the house.
You, Israel, have made My house into a den of thieves. Foreigners would go away cursing a God who would rob them blind if they came to His house.
Jesus clears the decks. He cleansed His Father's house. For one brief shining moment, the house of God, is cleaned out. Ready for true worship. He did that with the authority of Son and owner.
Annas and everyone else is powerless to do anything about it. Jesus shows up in Jerusalem and puts the most powerful people in the nation on notice. This house is His. No longer will it be filled up with thieves and robbers.
That's all the rulers of Israel need to hear from Him. They have one collective thought. How long will it take us to get rid of this person permanently so we can get back to business as usual.
First order of business in Jerusalem; Done. check. His time has come.
Let's finish by very quickly talking about the authority of Jesus. Let's get up close and personal.
He owns everything. There are no rogue molecules in the universe. He has authority over everything. Including you.
That leaves just 2 possibilities this morning. Either you are in rebellion against His ownership, or you have bowed the knee to Him.
We've returned over and over to the story of the little band of citizens who followed the would be king to Rome and they stand shaking their fists at the hearing saying We will NOT have this man to rule over us!
You can do that in this life. Most people in this country are doing just that. We generally run about 1.5% of the population of this community in this church that has come together to collectively bow the knee to King Jesus.
Where is the other 98.5% of Tonopah?
The United States has made up it's collective mind. We will NOT have this man to rule over us!
Remember how that story ends? The man is annointed as ruler. It's in Luke 19:27 And these enemies of mine who were unwilling for me to rule over them, bring them here and slay them in front of me.’
Every knee will bow. Behold, today is the acceptable day.
2 Cor. 6:2 For He says: "In the time of favor I heard you, and in the day of salvation I helped you." Behold, now is the time of favor; now is the day of salvation!
He has all authority. He owns everything. He offers amnesty . . . NOW.
More in The Gospel of Matthew
March 26, 2017The Authority and Commission of Jesus Mt. 28:16 - 20
March 19, 2017Jesus IS Alive! The Tomb is Empty Mt. 28: 1 - 15
March 12, 2017The Burial of Jesus Mt. 27:55 - 66 pt. 2