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Unconditional Love Angers Religious Leaders

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Unconditional Love Angers Religious Leaders
 
A Sermon Delivered at:
The Compassionate Internet Church
 
15 April 2012
 
Frank L. Hoffman, Pastor

Scripture References:

Jeremiah 7:8-11
Matthew 21:14-15
        22:34-40
John 2:13-18
2 Corinthians 6:14-18
 
Before Resurrection Day, we had talked about the fact that God did not want us to eat flesh foods, and the evil and ungodly intent of many of the religious leaders for wanting to kill Jesus.
 
Part of the reason they wanted to kill Jesus was they were afraid of losing their superior position, and the other has to do with Jesus’ cleansing of the Temple, as we will see.
 
To begin, let’s look at a conversation that took place between Jesus and some of the religious leaders, as recorded in Matthew 22:34-40…
 

34. But when the Pharisees heard that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered themselves together.
 
35. One of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing Him,

Or we could say that he was trying to trap Jesus so that he could prove Him wrong. Thus, he asked…

36. “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?”
 
37. And He said to him, “ ‘YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND.’
 
38. “This is the great and foremost commandment.
 
39. “The second is like it, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.’
 
40. “On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.”

This is unconditional love; for if we truly love God in this way, we will naturally love the whole of God’s creation: every human being, all the other animals, and the earth upon which we all live.
 
So, if the religious leaders, who say they believe this, are not living this way, as we have been seeing and talking about, then they must NOT be serving God or Jesus.
 
To shine a little more light on this subject, let’s go back and take a look at a Hebrew Testament passage.
 
The prophet Jeremiah, speaking for the Lord, chastises the people of Jerusalem for their ungodly behavior in 7:8-11…

8. “Behold, you are trusting in deceptive words to no avail.
 
9. “Will you steal, murder, and commit adultery and swear falsely, and offer sacrifices to Baal and walk after other gods that you have not known,
 
10. then come and stand before Me in this house, which is called by My name, and say, ‘We are delivered!’—that you may do all these abominations?
 
11. “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.

Jeremiah spoke these words more than 500 years before Jesus entered the Temple, or before any of the other things we have been talking about happened; but think about how true many of these comments are about what took place in Jesus’ time upon this earth, and continues to exist until today.
 
Are not the religious leaders, who conspired to kill Jesus, murderers in their hearts and souls?
 
Are not those who promote turning the Temple into a slaughterhouse for a profit stealing from the people and swearing falsely with deceptive words when they know full well that this is not what God desires?
 
And even today, don’t we have pastors and churches who promote hunting and fundraisers that include the roasted remains of tortured animals?
 
And aren’t these the same people who belittle those who love and care about all animals and don’t eat them?  Where is their love for one another?
 
Aren’t many televangelists seeking donations with promises that they can’t deliver, so that they can continue to live a lifestyle above that of the people who donate?
 
These are just some of the reasons that Jesus cleansed the Temple. Note what we are told in John 2:13-17…

13. The Passover of the Jews was near, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem.
 
14. And He found in the temple those who were selling oxen and sheep and doves, and the money changers seated at their tables.
 
15. And He made a scourge of cords, and drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and the oxen; and He poured out the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables;
 
16. and to those who were selling the doves He said, “Take these things away; stop making My Father’s house a place of business.”
 
17. His disciples remembered that it was written, “ZEAL FOR YOUR HOUSE WILL CONSUME ME.”

John places his story of Jesus cleansing the Temple in the beginning of his Gospel, as if it may have happened a few years earlier than the event recorded in Matthew, Mark, and Luke.
 
Was there more than one time when Jesus did this?
 
We simply don’t know; but the fact is that it very much upset the religious leadership.
 
In John, they ask Jesus (John 2:18)…

18. The Jews then said to Him, “What sign do You show us as your authority for doing these things?”

However in Matthew’s account (Matthew 21:14-15), we are told…

14. And the blind and the lame came to Him in the temple, and He healed them.
 
15. But 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…

Because the religious leadership’s authority and income was being challenged, they became angry; and as we previously saw, they also sought to kill Jesus, which is totally counter to God’s will and the way we are to love Him.
 
Did the religious leadership become angrier over the years of Jesus’ ministry because Jesus kept telling the truth about God’s true desire?
 
Most likely it did, whether or not there was more than one cleansing of the Temple; however, Jesus’ challenge to their slaughterhouse money-making practices most likely played a major role in their desire to kill Jesus.
 
Nothing anyone does against God’s heavenly will lasts forever; for in the span of only forty years, the Temple was destroyed, and the slaughterhouse cult ended, as it has to this very day.
 
With this in mind, let’s look at 2 Corinthians 6:14-18…

14. Do not be bound together with unbelievers; for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness?

As we have talked about before, God is light and life, and the ways of the devil are filled with darkness and death.

15. Or what harmony has Christ with Belial, or what has a believer in common with an unbeliever?
 
16. Or what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; just as God said,
“I WILL DWELL IN THEM AND WALK AMONG THEM;
AND I WILL BE THEIR GOD, AND THEY SHALL BE MY PEOPLE.
 
17“Therefore, COME OUT FROM THEIR MIDST AND BE SEPARATE,” says the Lord.
“AND DO NOT TOUCH WHAT IS UNCLEAN;
 And I will welcome you.
 
18“And I will be a father to you,
And you shall be sons and daughters to Me,”
Says the Lord Almighty.

So, this brings us to the point of asking ourselves a question:
 
Am I going to continue to follow the teachings of the corrupt religious leadership who want to preserve the darkness of suffering and death in the world and in my bodily temple?
 
Or, am I going to cleanse my bodily temple and seek that light and life and unconditional love that Jesus offers us in the will of our heavenly Father?
 
I pray your answer is to choose light and life.
 
Amen?
 
Amen.