Sunday, August 30, 2009

Jesus and Nicodemus Part 3 (Jn. 3:1-12)

John 3:1-12

Nicodemus believed that God must be with Jesus for Him to be able to perform those miracles. He was honest and was willing to learn from a younger person.

The long-lasting power of religion is based on arrogance. All religions will last until the end of the world because they want to emphasise they are right to the end. A religious person has a very dogmatic approach towards his belief. When new thoughts arise and surpass and challenge the old thoughts, they will resist. In this kind of situation, Jesus appeared to expose the decadent religion.

Jesus said new wine could not be poured on old wineskin. An ignorant child is easier to teach than to teach an old person who first needs to unlearn many things. Nicodemus kept asking back, wondering what Jesus meant. Jesus said, “I have spoken to you of earthly things and you do not believe, how then will you believe if I speak to you of heavenly things?” (v. 12)

Here Jesus draws the qualitative difference between heavenly and earthly things. God is God and man is man. Heaven is heaven and earth is earth. Spirit is spirit and flesh is flesh. No matter how learned you are, unless you are born again you can never see spiritual principles. Jesus totally would not compromise before this religious expert. He was not influenced by Nicodemus’ praise.

When Jesus said, “the kingdom of God is near”, it has a different meaning from the concept of the Jews. When Pilate asked if Jesus was the King of the Jews, Jesus told Pilate that His kingdom was not of this world, otherwise His subjects would not have allowed Him to be handed over. He was referring to a different kingdom. His kingdom surpassed the Roman empire. He said His kingdom was not of this world and did not elaborate further. Jesus never denied correct acknowledgement about His identity. He accepted that He was King and that He was the Son of God. But His response would not be determined by others’ influence.

Nicodemus could not see because he was not born again. But how to be born again? Nicodemus was bondaged by human knowledge. But what Jesus said is based on the revelation from heaven. There is no common ground, no common foundation and understanding. Jesus said, “You are Israel’s teacher, and you do not understand this?”

Moses was not allowed to enter the promised land. He represented the first generation, the ‘flesh’ generation. It requires a new generation to enter the Promised Land.

Cultural accomplishment can be a source of pride and bondage. There is symbolic relationship between water and spirit. Spirit represents holiness and water represents cleansing. But is this cleansing active or passive? Jesus said you must be born again. A lot of theological teaching use men’s activeness as the basis for God’s acts. For example, if you choose to believe, God will save you, otherwise, God will not. It is as if human choice would determine what God would do.

But the truth is the other way round. We believe because God first worked in our hearts. It is God’s initiative that determine our activeness to believe in Him. Paul did not want to believe and did not plan to meet Jesus on his way to Damascus. But he was predestined to believe, hence he believed in the end.

Our free will is bondaged by sin so we cannot believe in God. God first actively called us, and then we enabled to actively use our will to respond to Him. In this sense, in our ‘activeness’ we are actually passive. The Holy Spirit does not destroy our free will, but changes our heart so that our will is turned towards Him. We were initially dead and He awakened us.

Hence Jesus’ words to Nicodemus, “no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and of the Spirit” is something only God can do. It is the will and the act of God that cause a sinner to be born again.

(To be continued…)

Friday, August 21, 2009

Jesus and Nicodemus Part 2 (Jn. 3:1-8)

This is my personal summary of the preaching of Rev Dr Stephen Tong on 16th August 2009 in True Way Presbyterian Church. It was preached in Chinese with English translation.

Passage: John 3:1-8

Nicodemus said that those who wanted to know the truth would realise that Jesus came from God because of the miracles He had performed. Jesus was not bothered by Nicodemus’ courtesy and communicated consistently His message in one single direction.

Nicodemus’ words was indirectly an acknowledgement that the Pharisees did not have God with them. But they have the academic learning and theological knowledge. This is the irony of many seminars and theology schools in Christianity today. Before studying many people still want to preach the gospel but after graduation many people become cold. What then is the purpose of academic qualification? Nicodemus discovered that Jesus had what he did not have. This Galilean did not have the same academic credentials like them but He had the presence of God with Him. Before Jesus, Nicodemus found his weaknesses completely exposed.

Jesus declared to Nicodemus that unless he is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God. The first time the kingdom of God was mentioned in the New Testament is the declaration to repent as the kingdom of God is near. That is the preaching of John the Baptist and of Jesus Christ. When John the Baptist declared that the Kingdom of God is near the whole nation went to him and was baptised. They were captured by the message of John the Baptist in the wilderness. John the Baptist preached the kingdom of God. Jesus Christ preached the kingdom of God. And the Jews were waiting for the kingdom of God. But what is this kingdom?

Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.” Nicodemus could not understand and his immediate response was wondering how he could re-enter his mother’s womb. In the gospel of John, Jesus said 25 times the phrase “I tell you the truth” and this is the two times Jesus said this phrase to a single person.

Nicodemus’ response did not show a right understanding. So Jesus said to him the second time with more explanation, “I tell you the truth, if a man is not born of water and spirit, he will not enter the kingdom of God.” Jesus knew that Nicodemus came with a genuine heart. So Jesus gave him an honest answer. But some people are interested in the process of arguing but not the truth. Many Christians are interested in listening but not doing.

Jesus gave an honest answer to an honest question. We might not necessarily understand just because we are honest and sincere. If we find the wrong person, we will not get the right answer. The kingdom of God mentioned by John is the era of the New Testament. When Jesus mentioned the Kingdom of God, He meant the salvation that had come because of His sacrifice. When Nicodemus thought of the kingdom of God, he was referring to the political aspiration of the Jews. So the same words have different definitions. It is just like the word “justice” has different definitions to different people. For the Jews, justice is when God made them greater than all other people. For the Muslims, justice comes when all their enemies are destroyed. But for Christianity, justice came about in the forgiveness of God through the death of Jesus Christ.

Notice the differences between the words of God-incarnate and the words of an intellectual. Although an intellectual person has knowledge in many areas, he is not able to bring everything together consistently. The Word of God is the highest wisdom. Ethics and morality teach you how to live well, science teaches knowledge of nature and philosophy teaches how to be wise. But New Testament touches the issue of life and death and this question surpasses all others.

The revelation of the Word of God in the Old Testament will not go away, but Nicodemus needs to abandon the Jewish culture which had hindered his understanding. The gospel is not meant for the culture, it is the other way round. When the church is no longer faithful to God and His word, it will bind itself to the authority of the world. So Jesus tell Nicodemus that he is stuck in the letters of the law. He said these people need to be born again.

He explained that if he was not born of water and spirit he could not enter the kingdom of God. People who have been born again will see mysteries above all mysteries. But those without spiritual life so cannot see spiritual principles. People who do not understand think that Christianity is superficial. The Pharisees despised Christ and John. But the apostle John wrote this chapter, not Nicodemus. John is not an academic. The greatest tragedy of academic world is that in their generation they despise the non-academics who later became the objects of academic study for many centuries to come.

Why put water and spirit together? Water represents cleansing and spirit represents holiness. So it represent a new holy life after cleansing. Both come from above. John the Baptist said he baptised with water but the One who came after him would baptise with the Holy Spirit. So water represents cleansing. The Holy One use the Holy Spirit to cleanse us.

In the next portion on verse 6, Jesus said flesh gave birth to flesh but spirit gives birth to spirit. He led Nicodemus to understand step by step. He explained to Nicodemus that it is impossible for the flesh to give birth to spiritual life. We get our physical life from our parents. But the Holy Spirit gives us a new life in Christ when we enter into the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and that is being born again.

The Holy Spirit gives new life after a sinner hears the message of the gospel which contains the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, through which salvation is accomplished.

The Bible has four terms for this: born of God (it is the will of God), born of the Spirit (it is how salvation is executed), born of the Word (from the angle of truth), and born of the gospel (which is the content of faith). God accomplished His plan of salvation by sending His Son Jesus Christ to die on the cross and resurrected by the Holy Spirit’s power, through which new life is given to believers. In another word, a born again person must have heard the gospel, and the true gospel must be about the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Christ is not a religious leader but He is the Word becoming flesh. Only Spirit of God can give us a new life. Sin is put to death through the death of Christ, and we are made alive again through the resurrection of Christ. We have a new life because of the resurrection of Christ. Paul said that Christ was put to death for our transgression and resurrected for our justification (Rom. 5:25).

Jesus said flesh gives birth to flesh and spirit to spirit. This explains that there is no need to go back to the mother’s womb because one must be born again of the spirit, not of the flesh.

Hence Christians are born twice and die once. The first birth is physical life and the second birth is when the Holy Spirit gives new life and with this we will never perish. Physically we will die but spiritually we will never die. We will be with Christ forever. The wages of sin is death. So non-believers are born once and die twice. After physical death, those who have no relation with Christ will be separated from God forever. The first death is physical. The second death is everlasting. It is an eternal segregation from the Source of Life, the countenance of the Father.

The comparison between the flesh and the spirit also segregates the Old from the new Testament. The passover Lamb was sacrificed so that the angel of death would pass over the Israelites and they would not die. They were delivered from Egypt and went into the wilderness to worship God. But God allowed them to wander for 40 years in the desert before entering the Promised Land. They crossed the Red Sea and river of Jordan. These two water bodies segregate 3 regions. Leaving Egypt means freedom. But the 40 years in the wilderness is not the Promised Land. God allows His people to go through trials and God wants to see how they react.

First group who are in Egypt are unbelievers. The second group are the people who have faith but they are not complete. Many Christians are saved but they are still going around the desert for 40 years. They are wasting time, wasting grace and tempting God. Many christians are in this state. The last group are those who enter into Canaan. Does that mean they enter into heaven and relax? Not at all. In Canaan, they have a lot of enemies. They have to fight and overcome. Victory comes when Holy Spirit fights with your flesh and anxiety. So Christians are called to continue to battle against their flesh and overcome with the power of the Spirit.

The last portion of the sermon expounds on the error of trichotomy, i.e. human being constitutes of 3 parts, body, soul and spirit. This has been summarised in an earlier sermon
Honor of Humanity Part 2, 6th Aug 2006.

The unbelievers belong to the flesh. The believers belong to the spirit. The words “flesh gives birth to flesh and spirit gives birth to spirit” can be extended to Christians’ daily life. Those born of the spirit and live by the spirit are in Christ. After being born again, some believers still follow the flesh. So there is a battle between the spirit and the flesh. Paul was not referring to the physical and spiritual part of human being when he mentioned this battle. He was referring to those who are already in the status of a saint, and still have to fight the battle to come to full obedience to God.

After saved, we choose whether to obey the spirit or the flesh. We are in this state of contradiction. May God help us all. (To be continued…)

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Jesus and Nicodemus (Jn. 3:1-8)

This is my personal summary of the preaching of Rev Dr Stephen Tong on 9th August 2009 in True Way Presbyterian Church. It was preached in Chinese with English translation.

John 3:1-8

When Jesus was in Jerusalem, many people wanted to believe in Him because of His miraculous signs. These people were not the Pharisees, but the crowd. The Pharisess despised Him. But in John 3, there was one Pharisee who came by himself to Jesus at night. He was learned and experienced in life. In the gospels, there were only two persons who came to Jesus alone. The other person was a young ruler who came and knelt before Jesus. No other ruler would come to Jesus that way, generally all rulers despised Him.

Nicodemus was a very unusual Pharisee. The other Pharisees were angry with Jesus for clearing the temple as they thought they were the masters and Jesus had no authority. But not all Pharisees are like that. There are still the good among the bad. Nicodemus was observant of the incidents that happened. Although Jerusalem was the world for Pharisees and they were the expert religious rulers of the Jews, Nicodemus observed that Jesus performed things he never saw before. The miracles He performed was absent in centuries.

Nicodemus was a good person. An arrogant person is not able to accept others to be better than himself. Why do we always look at other people’s errors but not search ourselves and our own faults? Why can’t we appreciate others’ goodness? From this measurement we can discern a good from a bad person. Nicodemus is great. He discovered that despite all his achievements he could not compare to what Jesus had done. He admit that he was insufficient. It is difficult to step back and let others take over. It is difficult for an old person to let a young person take over the world.

Nicodemus’ life was not constrained by hatred. He appreciated what he lacked. He was happy that a younger person was better than him. This is how a great leader is like. Nicodemus was a scholar, a Pharisee, a leader of Israel, so he was a person of high status. But he humbled himself. Humility is not inferiority or mere courtesy. A humble person is a person who is not satisfied with what he has achieved in his life and seeks the truth endlessly. A humble person is willing to learn even from the young. Nicodemus was probably around 60 years old and he looked for Jesus who was 30 years old, and he called Jesus “Rabbi”. When we acknowledge Jesus as the Son of God, it makes sense. But Pharisees do not acknowledge that. He looked for Jesus at night because he knew that all the Pharisees despised Jesus. If he visited Him in broad day light, there would be a lot of misunderstanding so he was wise in his timing.

He knew that the Pharisees had been very hostile against Jesus and perhaps Jesus might reject him who came as a Pharisee. So he greeted Jesus with sincerity and respect and he acknowledged his need. He said, “Rabbi, we know you are a teacher who has come from God.” He said “we” referring to all people who recognised Jesus. But Jesus did not accept it just because people honored Him. When the young ruler said, “Good teacher.” Jesus said, “Why do you call Me good? There is no one good except God.” Was Jesus good? Why did Jesus ask that question when called as a good teacher then? When the young ruler called Jesus “good teacher” he should have known that only God is good and therefore he had used the term meant for God on a man. You could not address Jesus as good unless you know He is God. If you know that He is God, why call Him with a human term “teacher”?

Seemingly Jesus rejected the address “Rabbi”. Jesus accepted the addresses “the Son of God” and “Lord”, and He never rejected worship. All these mere men could not accept. What the Jews could not accept is the way Jesus equated Himself to God. Nicodemus said Jesus could not do those miracles unless He came from God. Should Jesus be comforted by the fact that among all religious leaders who despised Him finally there was someone who honored Him? Jesus did not. He said, “I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.” Jesus immediately touched on the most important point. Jesus only met Nicodemus once and this is the only opportunity to discuss an important issue with a Pharisee.

Jesus used the shortest time to declare the greatest words. Why did Jesus only preached once such an important teaching? And why was such an important sermon preached only to one person? Jesus only spoke to Nicodemus about being born again. The most self-righteous are the hardest to receive life. Nicodemus only believed when he was very old, after Jesus died. But the next day after that conversation, Jesus spoke to a Samaritan woman and she believed immediately. Why is it so hard for a religious leader to believe? Jesus told him it is not about doing, it is about being born again.

Nicodemus talked about knowledge, Jesus talked about spiritual life. Nicodemus spoke as the scribe and the expert of the law who was most equipped academically. But Jesus pointed out that he might have a lot of knowledge but he had no spiritual life. The Pharisees would boast of their knowledge, “We know!” to which Christ replied, “You have no life.”

After being born again, you will have a new way of seeing and thinking. You will see the kingdom of God. When Jesus mentioned about the kingdom of God, Nicodemus did not pay attention. Instead he paid attention to the ‘new birth’ and wondered how an old person could go back to his mother’s womb. He could not understand Jesus’ words. Jesus spoke about the kingdom of God and the Jews talked about the kingdom of God as well. But the same term has different meaning. The kingdom of God according to the Jews is how Israelites could be freed from Roman occupation.

Jesus did not want to change the topic. He kept pointing that being born again is necessary. If a person is not born of water and the spirit he could not enter the Kingdom of God. (To be continued …)

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Jesus at the Temple Part 4 (Jn. 2:12-25)

This is my personal summary of the preaching of Rev. Dr. Stephen Tong on 2nd August 2009 in True Way Presbyterian Church. It was preached in Chinese with English translation.

Passage: John 2:12-25

Because we are able to see the Invisible Lord and have a close relationship with God, we can appreciate how true His love is for us. In contrast, the gods of other faiths are very fake and far away from them. But in Christianity God lived among us in the flesh. Christ became the Mediator between God and men, enabling us to return to God. This Christ is in eternity and also temporal history. John 2 tells us how He lived as a human being and represented men before God.

The first miracle Christ performed was at a wedding. It showed how important marriage is in God’s eyes. Marriage tells us the meaning of union, teaches to make sacrifices and to honor another person. In union, you have to sacrifice yourself and honor others. You change position from receiving to giving, especially when you have your own children. Marriage is only meant to happen once in one’s life, so those who enter are frequently those experience, and through this they are forced to be humble. Marriage can be very tiring and exhausting but we need to pay a price for something valuable.

The second incident in John 2 did not seem related to the first. But it actually demonstrates an important attribute of God. The first incident demonstrates His grace and the second incident demonstrates His righteousness. He came to the temple as the Lord of justice. He came as the Lord of the temple.

Jesus did not say much to those who refuse to understand. Towards the hypocrites, He did not spend much time explaining to them. Even when He spoke what He should, He allowed them to misunderstand Him. But He is willing to give the Holy Spirit to those who are elected to understand His will. If it were not for God who open your heart, none will come to Him. If He chose us, we cannot resist Him. He will capture us with His grace that is beyond our understanding. Those who are not elected will not be able to enjoy this grace. If He does not want to give you His grace, He will just allow you to keep opposing Him. This doctrine of sovereign grace is clearly portrayed in the entire Bible. He did not say anything to King Herod when He met Him. He revealed the silence of God. When God is silent, we should fear. When God suddenly keeps quiet, what is happening in the universe? When God did not want the Israelites to understand, there is not a prophet for 400 years.

Jesus’ words “Destroy this temple and I will raise it up in 3 days” become the motivation for the religious leaders to kill Him. When Jesus rose from the dead, the disciples suddenly understood what it meant to destroy th temple and to be raised in 3 days, that the temple is the body of Christ. Only in Christ could we enjoy the presence of God and understand the covenant of God. It is where God is one with us.

The first time Jesus entered Jerusalem He did many miracles. But John did not record in detail these miracles. Why did John not record the miracles in Jerusalem, but recorded those in Galilee? It would seem that the miracles performed in the capital is the most important.

Is it true that you should preach important sermon only when there is a big crowd? If so, isn’t it a waste that Jesus spoke some important words only to Nicodemus? God said His will is above our will, His ways above our ways. How many miracles did He perform in Jerusalem? Why is it not recorded? John only recorded that many people believed because of the miracles He performed.

Many preachers fail right here. If the audience are just a few old people, they do not talk seriously. But if thousands of people are listening, they preach the most important sermons and take a lot of photographs.

If more people come, it is revival. Is it true? The greatest church leader could be the most deceiving. This is a very serious error. Is everything we hear and accept in line with the truth? Very often they are half-truths. Some are the truths that have been changed and twisted because of wrong motivation. Some errors are significant and consistent. They are errors that are consistent in totality, hence you might not recognise it.

John 2 shows us that Jesus did not appreciate that there were supporters among His opposers. He would not accept them just because they believed in His miracles. He would never use people’s support as a platform for greater work. This is the mark of an honest person. He is not seeking after the glory of men. Truth is not established on numerical success. Indeed He performed many miracles when He first entered Jerusalem and many people believed Him but He would not entrust Himself to them. The passage tells us that Jesus was able to look at their motives. If Christianity is dependent on how many people could accept, then we should thank people for coming. But Christianity’s value is intrinsic in itself, independent on whether people accept it or not. Its value is not dependent on what others feel and think. If my value if dependent on whether you like me or not, then my value does not exist. In the market, value is dependent on demand. If many people want your product, the price will increase. If there is no demand, your product has no value.

When many people rejected His preaching, Jesus said, “Father, I praise you, for this is Your good will.” When He was on the cross and there was no glory, He said “It is completed”. When He said that, nobody believed. Not a single church had been established. Not a single Christian soldier had been trained, not a gospel had been written. It must have been the greatest failure of all. All the founders of faith died a good death and most in old age. Christ is the only one nailed to the cross and humiliated to death at a very young age of 33 in unjust manner. Where then is His value? It is not dependent on the recognition of men. He denied all those acknowledgement when people supported Him on His first visit to Jerusalem.

Those who lower standard of God to achieve numerical success are the true destroyers of the temple of God. The larger the church is, if they do not preach the truth, they are doing greater damage.

John said Jesus did not need men’s testimony about men, for He knew what is in men. With such a great declaration John 2 ended. This is the first time the book of John displayed the omniscience of God. In the beginning was the Word, the Word became flesh and dwelt among us; He was full of grace and truth, and finally, He would not entrust Himself to those who do not truly believe.

What is your motivation of coming to God? To receive His grace? His miracles? Hence you are interested in Him? Jesus is not interested in such people. Do you believe in Him because there are good things in Him? He will search your heart, illuminate you, judge you and correct you. Do you think just because you believe Jesus will accept? When we are one-sided and not wholeheartedly following Christ, He would not accept us. Matthew 7 say when we serve God in our own way He will not accept us. Jesus said “Not everybody who called me Lord, Lord would enter the Kingdom of heaven, but only those who do the will of My Father in heaven. In the last days, many would ask, ‘Did we not chase out demons and perform many miracles in Your name? ‘ Then I would say, ‘I never knew you. Away from Me, you evildoers.’” No religious Scriptures is as stern as the Bible. These are the people who actually perform miracles and drive out demons in Jesus’ name. They seem very successful. If you find a preacher who could drive out demons and heal diseases in the name of Jesus, would you say he is not of the Lord? Surely many people who see such miracles and sign will accept that as the mark of true disciples.

But Jesus would not thank you just because you work for Him or appreciate you just because you believe in Him. Why could these people cast out demons in Jesus’ name if their faith is fake? God honors His own name. When the pharisees sit on the throne of Moses, we still have to listen. Hence you will be most astonished that those who drive out demons and perform miracles are not recognised by Christ. They thought they recognise Christ but Jesus said He never knew them. This is most horrifying. Jesus would not entrust Himself to those who believe just because of His miracles.

If you truly want to follow the Lord, Jesus said to pick up your cross, to love Him more than anything else or else you are not worthy to be His disciples. This is very tough but this is His standard. How is our faith like? Is it based on popularity? Do you pray to the Lord to bring you into His will? Believe in Him based on the principle of truth, not signs and wonders. When Jesus accepts you and recognises you, do not be afraid even if the world does not recognise you. Conversely, if the whole world welcome you, you are finished if Jesus does not welcome you.

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Jesus at the Temple Part 3 (Jn. 2:12-25)

This is my personal summary of the preaching of Rev. Dr. Stephen Tong on 26 July 2009 in True Way Presbyterian Church. It was preached in Chinese with English translation.

Passage: John 2:12-25

The first time the word ‘temple’ is mentioned in the Bible is by Jacob in the wilderness when he was escaping from his brother Esau. At that time, there was no building. He had a dream where there was a ladder that reached up to heaven, and the angels of God were ascending and descending upon it. He declared that this was the temple of God. The temple is not a building. It is where God’s presence is, where God reveal His truth and His will. It is the place where men respond to God and offer sacrifices to God. In the era of Jacob, nobody explained that to him. His understanding surpassed physical things. He could see what others could not. The temple is the intermediary between men and God where heaven and earth come to a harmony.

Jesus Christ is the temple of God. When we think about the temple, we need to think about Christ being the intermediary between God and men. He is the One who made us holy. When He cleansed the physical temple, He wanted us to understand that only in true holiness we could see God. The religious leaders studied the Scriptures but could not understand. It is the tragedy of religion. A lot of established seminaries become dead religion after many years. Academics that lose the fervor of true religion are dangerous.

John 2 shows a comparison between a true and a false temple. There were people who served God on surface but Jesus considered them as those who destroyed the temple. He said, “Destroy this temple, and I will raise it in three days.” But they were not interested in the first portion of His words and only focused on the second portion on raising the temple in three days and thought He was crazy. This passage shows the decadence of religious leaders. The sellers who were chased away did not challenge Jesus, likely realising their mistakes for doing business in the temple. But the religious leaders challenged Jesus. Often times lay people could see a mistake but religious leaders and preachers could not. The fact that Jesus had to clear the temple every year showed that they had never repented. The religious leaders invited the sellers back.

Jesus had deep zeal for the temple of God. When Jesus was 12, He was brought by His parents to the temple in Jerusalem. The people there were astonished by the depth of His understanding. The parents were worried about Him because He stayed in the temple after they left. When they found Him again, He asked, “Didn’t you know that I must be in My Father’s house?” Since His childhood, He knew the temple was His Father’s house. When Jesus cleansed the temple, He came as the Lord of the temple. He was angry when He saw how the religious leaders had insulted and abused the temple.

When Paul was in Athens, he was filled with anxiety because of the idolatry in that place. He was not behaving like a tourist taking pictures when he saw all those idols. What sort of response do we have when we see such things? Do we see as God would have us see it? We should not behave like the rest of the world.

So when Jesus went into the temple, He was filled with zeal. The religious leaders were angry that He had interrupted their business-making opportunities, so they asked for miracles as the proof of His authority. But Jesus did not answer their question. He was gracious to lay people but was not as friendly to the religious leaders. Instead of answering their question, Jesus simply said to destroy the temple and He would raise it in three days.

People have selective hearing. We have the whole Bible but only want to hear parts of it. Jesus first said “Destroy this temple”, indicating that they were the destroyer of the temple of God, and they completely ignored this part. They only heard that He said He would raise it in three days. They said proudly that it took 46 years to build it so how could He claim to raise it in 3 days? They could not understand it. But God had determined that those who were not meant to understand to always remain ignorant.

The disciples did not understand either at that time, but when Jesus was raised from the dead they remembered His words and finally understood. Jesus was determined to be crucified.