The Invitation - Day 11

John 2:`3-`17

“It was nearly time for the Jewish Passover celebration, so Jesus went to Jerusalem. In the Temple area, he saw merchants selling cattle, sheep, and doves for sacrifices; he also saw dealers at tables exchanging foreign money. Jesus made a whip from some ropes and chased them all out of the Temple. He drove out the sheep and cattle, scattered the money changers’ coins over the floor, and turned over their tables. Then, going over to the people who sold doves, he told them, “Get these things out of here. Stop turning my Father’s house into a marketplace!”

Then, his disciples remembered this prophecy from the Scriptures: “Passion for God’s house will consume me.”

As we said yesterday, the temple's outer courtyard was open to everyone, and it was the one place where the Gentiles were allowed to go in and worship.  The Only problem was so much noise and commotion that, as one scholar noted, “one wouldn’t have been able to hear themselves think, let alone pray.”

So, from Jesus’ perspective, some people had come to pray and meet with God, and they couldn’t.  The noise and commotion were barriers to building on that relationship with the father.

But honestly, the whole temple system was a system of barriers.

For example, though everyone could enter the outer courtyard, only the Jews could go farther inside the temple the next space, and then only the Jewish men could go even farther. Only the priests, but even then, there was a place where only the high priest could go, only once a year, called the Most Holy Place, which was separated from the Holy Place (open to all priests) by a curtain that went from floor to ceiling.  

So, the temple was a system of barriers.  One of the things that Jesus did when he flipped the tables and drove out the money-makers was that he was the way so that the Gentiles could worship.  It was his first formal step to clearing the way to God, so we all can access him.  Why do I believe this?

Follow the journey of this week to its climax. On Friday, Jesus is taking his last breaths as he hangs on the cross.  We’re told, ”Then Jesus shouted, “Father, I entrust my spirit into your hands!” And with those words, he breathed his last.“ Luke 23:46 NLT

Do you know what happens next?  Matthew says, “At that moment, the curtain in the sanctuary of the Temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. The earth shook, rocks split apart…” Matthew 27:51 NLT

When Jesus dies, the final barrier between us and Him is removed.  With the curtain torn from top to bottom, we now have access to God, not just the high priest, on one day a year, but all of us, whenever and wherever we want.  We can go in to meet with God, and He can come out to meet with us.

The apostle Paul said it best, “So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. And I am convinced that nothing can separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:1, 38-39 NLT

So, here are a few questions for us to consider today;
  1. What barriers seem to be keeping us from God?  Is it our sin?  Our shame?  Something someone else has been telling us about ourselves or God?  Or maybe our barriers are other beliefs, lies, or fears?  What keeps us from communion with God?
  2. What would it be like if you knew all those barriers were removed and you could talk to and listen to God unencumbered?
  3. PRAY TOGETHER - Once you’ve admitted what barriers might be keeping you from God and accepted that Jesus came to remove those barriers, lay them at the foot of Jesus, and ask for his help to let them go.

By Pastor Paddy McCoy

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