Zeal for Right Living and Wisdom in Relationships (Equipping Class 3)

John 2 The Message (MSG)

Tear Down This Temple . . .

13-14 When the Passover Feast, celebrated each spring by the Jews, was about to take place, Jesus traveled up to Jerusalem. He found the Temple teeming with people selling cattle and sheep and doves. The loan sharks were also there in full strength.

15-17 Jesus put together a whip out of strips of leather and chased them out of the Temple, stampeding the sheep and cattle, upending the tables of the loan sharks, spilling coins left and right. He told the dove merchants, “Get your things out of here! Stop turning my Father’s house into a shopping mall!” That’s when his disciples remembered the Scripture, “Zeal for your house consumes me.”

18-19 But the Jews were upset. They asked, “What credentials can you present to justify this?” Jesus answered, “Tear down this Temple and in three days I’ll put it back together.”

20-22 They were indignant: “It took forty-six years to build this Temple, and you’re going to rebuild it in three days?” But Jesus was talking about his body as the Temple. Later, after he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered he had said this. They then put two and two together and believed both what was written in Scripture and what Jesus had said.

23-25 During the time he was in Jerusalem, those days of the Passover Feast, many people noticed the signs he was displaying and, seeing they pointed straight to God, entrusted their lives to him. But Jesus didn’t entrust his life to them. He knew them inside and out, knew how untrustworthy they were. He didn’t need any help in seeing right through them.

1) How do you relate to believers and unbelievers differently?

2) How can the goodness of God lead an unbeliever to repentance and what can you share or do to demonstrate God's goodness?

3) What boundaries do you have to keep a safe distance between yourself and the people you're discipling?

4) How do you determine which people to invest more time in?

Jesus displayed such profound wisdom in this story it really amazes me! He demonstrates a godly anger for right living which brought him to make a whip and clear out those earning profit in the temple. This zeal had consumed him so that he was willing to get violent to make things right again.

There is a difference between how we interact with believers and unbelievers. Jesus never went into what would today be called the red light districts to drive people out of their businesses. He went to the temple which was dedicated to God.

Paul taught us not to even associate with believers who refuse to repent, but that we need to associate with unbelievers who continue to sin. This is very practical. If we just accept other believers no matter what lifestyle choices they make, we may condone their sin. On the other hand, if we force unbelievers to change their behavior without an inward change, they will try to be good in the power of their sinful flesh.

The correct response to both types of people requires wisdom. We must have a zeal for right living and justice, correcting people in love and seeking unity in the church. We also must have a zeal for evangelizing unbelievers, sharing the simplicity of the Gospel and the goodness of God to draw them to repentance.

Because of the signs Jesus displayed at the Passover feast, many people believed Jesus and entrusted their lives to him. Jesus did not take this as a sign that they were genuine disciples who would follow him even unto death. In fact, Jesus knew them inside and out, so he knew how untrustworthy they were.

This really takes a lot of wisdom. It is easy to be wooed when other people like us or speak well of us, but Jesus was not moved based on his emotions alone. He saw straight to the heart and didn't allow himself to become attached to those people.

Earlier, however, when Jesus called his disciples to follow him, he was willing to invest great amounts of time in them. We know from other accounts that Jesus spent time in prayer and listening to the Father to determine who to invest in. It should be the same for us, or we may waste a lot of time in people are just not ready to receive from us yet.

These extreme actions of Jesus could be difficult to understand at first, but within the whole context of Jesus' life and ministry, we can see the profound wisdom he demonstrated. May we also learn how to relate to each person around us and who we should be investing more time in. Amen.

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