In chapters 2-4, Jesus encounters 4 Jewish institutions and shows that He is the fulfillment or the true reality to which they all point. This morning we examine, the 2nd of those four institutions, the temple. As Jesus comes to Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover, He enters the temple and finds not holy adoration and prayer, but noisy commerce. Overcome with zeal for his Father's house, Jesus cleanses the temple by driving out the animals and money changers. And then defends his actions by offering his accusers a sign by which He will be revealed as the true Messiah.
In John chapter 2, we see Jesus perform the first of 7 signs that John puts forth as evidence that Jesus is the promised Messiah. Jesus and his disciples are at a wedding feast in Cana and Jesus performs a sign that is both gracious and kind, but also revelatory. Jesus demonstrates that his ministry and his Kingdom is the fulfillment of the prophetic promises and a foretaste of the new and greater wine of the Kingdom of God.
John the Baptist's mission was to point people to Jesus and in our text this morning, we see him doing just that. As a result, John's disciples become disciples and followers of Jesus. And as these men follow Jesus they discover that Jesus is, as John the Baptist said, the Messiah. Jesus reveals himself to them and to us as the place where Heaven and earth meet. In Jesus we not only encounter God, we are offered fellowship with God for He is the way to Heaven.
The Apostle John wants us to encounter Jesus through his gospel and receive him, which means to believe in him and in doing so receive eternal life. John wants you to know Jesus is exactly who He says He is. And so John's gospel brings witness after witness, to testify to Jesus’ identity, power and glory. John wants us to be sure what he is saying about Jesus is true so he will put forth no less than 8 witnesses that testify that Jesus is the Christ. And the witness we are going to study this morning is the witness of John the Baptist, who fulfills a unique and privileged role as a herald for the Messiah's appearing.
The Kingdom of God is a Kingdom of justice and as citizens of the Kingdom we must labor to defend, preserve and protect all who are denied dignity and justice. So this Sunday we will recognize the innate human dignity of every person made in the image of God. In doing so we draw attention to the present assaults on human dignity such as abortion, racism, racial injustice and sadly many others. And we focus on the ways in which God is leading us to respond.
John brings our attention to the amazing fact that the Word of God came into the world and took upon human nature and dwelt among us. Since the creation of men and women in his image, God has always desired to dwell among his people, but sin has often marred this. In the person of Jesus, God tabernacled among us. In Jesus, the fullness of God was pleased to dwell. But horrifically, when God did this, many people would have nothing to do with him! John wants us to be hit by two truths- that Eternal God came into the world and when He did, the dark world failed to receive him. But to all who did receive him, He gave the right to become children of God.
The Gospel of John expounds upon one main theme, that Jesus is the Son of God. And the book has a brilliant design. The Gospel of John focuses on the last three years of Jesus’s life and especially on his death and resurrection. And the Apostle John tells us exactly why he has written the book, to bring us to a place of faith in Jesus so that we may have life in Jesus’ name.
We must pray if we would continue to live as Christians. Prayer is a vital means of maintaining a healthy and vibrant faith and it is essential to our joy. Some of us may look back at 2018 and feel like we made significant strides in our relationship with the Lord through prayer. Others of us may presently feel like our prayer life is pretty dry, barren and stale. No matter who you are, we all have room to improve in prayer. All of us can do better at being more diligent in our prayer life. So this morning our goal is to refresh our prayer lives through studying an example of a great prayer. One of the ways we learn to do something is by seeing it modeled for us. We watch, we listen and then attempt to do it ourselves. We can be apprenticed in prayer by Paul through reading and studying his prayers.
One of the best things that accompanies Christmas is a season and spirit of love among human beings. You can’t have Christmas in any meaningful way without love. This love at Christmas manifests itself among other ways, through giving of gifts and sacrificial generosity. And even these have their genesis, their beginning in God. Christmas is a season of love and generosity because God is loving and generous. God loves us and Christmas is about the love of God being made manifest through his Son.
We all yearn for peace and yet, often peace often eludes us. Peace eludes us because we misunderstand what peace is and hence, turn to the wrong things to find peace. True peace is found in the wholeness of relationship with the God who made us. True peace is being reconciled unto God and dwelling in his presence under His reign forever. And Christmas is about God making peace with us.