DATE: 7th March, 2021
THEME: UNDERSTNDING GOD’S PURPOSE
1st Corinthians 1:18-25
Psalter – Psalm 19
PREPARED BY: Osofo Yaw Dodd
Life is a journey. We are all travelling certainly towards the end of our lives. We will either go through life with no sense of direction or we will live with purpose and fulfilment. The race is on. Everyone’s life is driven by something or a purpose. God wants us to be purpose driven people, driven by His plan, His purpose for our lives. That’s where meaning and significance come. WE WERE CREATED ON PURPOSE, FOR A PURPOSE, AND WITH A PURPOSE.
Before God even planned the world, He planned us. When He planned us, He planned our purpose even before we were born. When you fulfil your life’s purpose, it brings honour to God and it brings satisfaction to yourself. Jesus was driven by a purpose. He said in John 17:4 ‘I have brought You glory on earth by completing the work You gave me to do.’ If you’re a believer, you have to bring glory to God and you do that by completing the work God has given you to do. Purpose flows out of values. Every time we make a decision in life, we are filtering that decision through our ‘values grid’, whether we’re conscious of it or not. Values affect everything we do.
God the Father has called you to Himself. He desires an intimate relationship with you. You are called to be a part of His family. You are His son or daughter. He wants to love, care, provide for and protect you. He wants to spend time with you. This is our highest purpose or calling and it is to be the foundation for any other “ministry”.
A BIT OF BACKGROUND
Other than the crucifixion story, there are only two other stories that appear in all four Gospels: the Feeding of the 5000 and the cleansing of the Temple. The fact that these stories are recorded in all four Gospels indicates just how important they must be. Even though the story of Jesus cleansing the Temple does appear in all four Gospels, there is an important difference we need to note. In the Synoptic Gospels – Matthew, Mark and Luke – the story comes during Holy Week right at the end of Jesus’ ministry. But in John’s Gospel, the story comes right at the beginning of Jesus’ ministry.
John puts it at the beginning of his Gospel because the Cleansing of the Temple, for John, is a metaphor for the ministry of Jesus in its totality. John’s understanding is that Jesus came to renew the Jewish faith: to challenge our institutional views of God and to bring both passion and purity back into the worship of God. He did this for us to understand the purpose of God for our lives.
A. UNDERSTANDING GOD’S PURPOSE FOR THE TEN COMMANDMENTS
We cannot live this life without GUIDING PRINCIPLES. When we get to the place where we need no guidelines, then we have entered lawlessness and we are in trouble and in sin. The Commandments were given by God for the following reasons:
▪To reveal His glory and Holiness – Deut. 5:22-28
▪To reveal man’s sinfulness – Rom. 7:7, 13; 1 Tim. 1:9; James 1:22-25.
▪To mark Israel as His chosen and to separate them from the heathen – Psa. 147:19-20; Eph. 2:11-17; Acts 15.
▪To give Israel a standard for godly living – Deut. 4:1ff; 5:29ff.
▪To prepare Israel for the coming of Christ – Gal. 5:24.
▪To illustrate in type and ceremony the person and ministry of Christ – Heb. 10:1.
Jesus perfectly kept the Law and fulfilled all the types of Leviticus and Numbers. He became our Passover Lamb and our Scapegoat, forever taking away the demands of the Law upon our lives. The Law was not given to make us righteous. It was given to show us that in ourselves and in our own works, we could never hope to keep the Law. The Law opens our eyes so that we will see our need for Jesus – Gal. 3:24.
B. UNDERSTANDING GOD’S PURPOSE FOR THE CROSS
a. About Making A Statement – ln the Old Testament, the Lord has been telling us of His love, Deut. 7:7-8; Jer. 31:3. However, in Christ’s death on the cross, God was able to declare boldly, for all to see, His boundless, matchless love for the lost of this world. (Rom. 5:6-8) The cross is God’s statement of love to the world – John 15:13!
b. About Providing Salvation – The Bible, tells us that there is no other way to cleanse sin, but through the sacrifice of an innocent one on behalf of the guilty one, Heb. 9:22. The Lord Jesus went to the cross and died for the sins of humanity. When He did, His death on the cross forever settled the sin debt of man, Heb. 10:12-14; Heb. 9:24-28!
c. About Defeating Satan – Ever since Lucifer sinned and became the devil, he has been in the business of trying to hinder the work of God. He loves nothing better than keeping souls in bondage and seeing them condemned to Hell, Eph. 2:1-3. But, when Jesus died on the cross, He did not die to stay dead, but He rose from the dead three days later as a sign of victory over the devil. The Bible tells us that the victory over the devil is found in the blood of the Lamb, Rev. 12:11.
C. UNDERSTANDING GOD’S PURPOSE FOR TRUE WORSHIP
God is not primarily interested in beautiful worship. He is interested in pure or true worship. And the two are very different indeed: though not mutually exclusive.
This was a moment of crisis for the people of God. Jesus was saying that the heart of faith had become lost in the RITUALISM, that it was passion for God that they were selling out, not pigeons for sacrifice. Jesus is confronting the people of God with a deeply uncomfortable truth: THIS WAS A MOMENT FOR THEM TO RE-ASSESS. Jesus was a Jew, born and brought up, steeped in the law and the ways of the synagogue. And it was because he was a committed Jew that Jesus overturned the tables in the temple.
▪Jesus was acting in the line of the prophets, in the line of Amos who challenged Israel with these words: “’Even though you offer me your burnt offerings and grain offerings, I will not accept them,’ says God, ‘but let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.’”
▪Jesus was acting in the line of the prophets, in the line of Jeremiah who proclaimed: “Do not trust in the deceptive words, ‘This is the temple of the Lord’. But act justly. Do not oppress the alien, the orphan and the widow. Do not go after other gods. Then I will be with you in this place.”
Amos knew, Jeremiah knew, and Jesus knew that true faith cannot ever be expressed through empty rituals but that the rituals we undertake must be an expression of the real worship of our lives: JUSTICE, KINDNESS, HUMILITY, NON-OPPRESSION, CARE FOR THE MARGINALISED, FAITHFULNESS and RIGHTEOUSNESS. If our worship does not engage with these ATTITUDES and ACTIONS, it is not true worship.
▪I think Jesus went to the temple that day for one purpose; to throw out and overturn ‘business as usual’ which was not in the purpose of God. There are times when we need the tables of our life overturned and the animals thrown out. So that we can stay through with the purpose of God.
▪‘Business as usual’ is born of FORGETFULNESS that does not help us to stay through with the purposes of God. We forget that we really are the temple of God’s presence. We forget that all of creation is the residence of God. We forget that in whatever direction we might turn, there is the face of God gazing upon us. And as soon as we forget those things about ourselves, each other, or the world, life becomes business as usual.
▪I think that’s what happened in the temple. They didn’t see themselves or one another as the true temple of God. It was all about the human built temple, the animals, and the coins. They had forgotten that God was more interested in them than in their festivals and that God wanted them more than their offerings.
▪When we forget that we are the temple of God, life can easily become a series of transactions. Relationships and intimacy are lost. PRIORITIES GET REARRANGED. Making a living replaces living a life. Life becomes a marketplace rather than a place for meeting the Holy One in ourselves and one another. And it’s business as usual. That’s what Jesus is overturning and driving them out of the temple. We should maintain the main thing, to be the main thing.
Over and over again Jesus is INTERRUPTING, DISRUPTING, OVERTURNING, and THROWING out business as usual. Business as usual is destructive of our lives and relationships and takes us out of God’s purposes. It destroys our ability to see and participate in the Holy things that is already present in and among us. Enjoy the SERVICE. Stay Blessed.
OSOFO YAW DODD
CALVARY METHODIST CHURCH