God’s Zeal for His House – Jesus’ Passion (Part II)

*** This article is part of a blog series by a Guest AuthorNic Thackwray. It is a journey into understanding better God’s Zeal for His House. You can check out the Introduction to the series here. ***

So this was God’s plan: a house of prayer for us (i.e. the untold joy of being God’s friends), a crucifix for Jesus. If I were Jesus, I would object at this point. But Jesus did not. Although out of His fear for God’s anger at our sin He pleaded for another way at the last moment (when the reality of the Father’s abandonment and fury began to set in), He did not delay in doing the Father’s will. It was His zeal for what He saw in the Father’s heart that would lead Him on. He saw in the Father’s heart a house of prayer, all the nations of the entire earth glorifying God, and it was this vision that consumed Him.

“The Passover of the Jews was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. In the temple he found those who were selling oxen and sheep and pigeons, and the money-changers sitting there. And making a whip of cords, he drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and oxen. And he poured out the coins of the money-changers and overturned their tables. And he told those who sold the pigeons, “Take these things away; do not make my Father’s house a house of trade”. His disciples remembered that it was written, Zeal for your house will consume me. And the chief priests and the scribes heard it and were seeking a way to destroy him, for they feared him, because all the crowd was astonished at his teaching.” (John 2:13-17, Italics added)

In Mark 11:17, in an different account of this same incident, it records Jesus saying (more likely shouting) while He passionately clears His Father’s temple , “Is it not written, My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations?’ But you have made it a den of robbers.” This is a direct quote from Isaiah 56, the passage that we started with a few weeks ago. Jesus got the Father’s mission. In fact He burned with passion and zeal for it.

Mark records in the passage: “And the chief priests and the scribes heard it and were seeking a way to destroy him”. Jesus clearing the temple was the last straw. It was prophesied of Jesus that His zeal for His Father’s house would consume Him (Psalm 69:9*) and in a few days, the chief priests and scribes, driven by their jealousy, were crying out, “Crucify him!” And as Jesus hung on the cross, His body broken and His blood pouring out, the prophecy was fulfilled: Jesus was physically and spiritually consumed by His zeal for His Father’s house. Yes, the chief priests and scribes handed him over to Pilate because of their jealousy, but they did not take His life from Him…He gave it freely…to be our Door into the Father’s house.

Jesus, we want our lives to be consumed with zeal for You, for Your people, for Your plans! Thank You for Your zeal. May it be in our hearts.

*For zeal for your house has consumed me, and the reproaches of those who reproach you have fallen on me.

7 thoughts on “God’s Zeal for His House – Jesus’ Passion (Part II)

  1. Jesus, we want our lives to be consumed with zeal for You, for Your people, for Your plans! Thank You for Your zeal. May it be in our hearts.

    Amen. Amen!

  2. Very good post Nic

    I wonder how much of this is actually happening today? Those who are in fact driven by money, making a “mockery” out of the house (people) of God. Those who are using the house of God to fill their pockets.

    Honestly, if I look at the state of evangelical Christianity across the world I see that the house that Jesus was filled with passion to protect, is still being corrupted. And it really saddens me. In fact it angers me. I see institutions being set up to use peoples money and pay the salaries of people who end up living luxuriously while the house of God remains in ruins. The rebuke of Ezra comes to mind…

    It is sad that the people of God (who are the house) get used for earthly gain. And you know what, its not just money. Its fame, authority, and influence, power, control, and even worship. All earthly, selfish desires being pursued at the detriment of the Lords house. It really sucks.

    I mean, is the Father’s desire not good enough for us? Do we care so little for what He wants? Do we just seek to use anything we can find to fill our own pockets?

    1. I like the way you put it: the people of God (who are the house) get used for earthly gain.

      The sheep need to be cared for and tended not used.

      But don’t you think its important to remain positive about the global church as a whole because the publicity that informs our opinion of the global church can be dominated by the “bad stories”. I’m sure there are many genuine and sincere shepherds out there that are not influenced by worldly things. So I agree that there are the greedy and those out for selfish gain, and we must be troubled by it, but I feel that we must believe that Jesus is building His church and therefore have faith in the “true” church that the gates of hell or the deceitfulness of this world are not overcoming it.

      When you say the state of evangelical christianity, what do you mean? Do you mean the universal church excluding hypertraditional church or do you mean western church generally?

      1. NIc

        As you put it: “It was His zeal for what He (Jesus) saw in the Father’s heart that would lead Him on. He saw in the Father’s heart a house of prayer… In fact He burned with passion and zeal for it.”

        And just like Jesus, I am filled with passion and zeal to “clear” the Father’s house of robbers and money-lenders. To clear it of systems of control, manipulation, and greed. Granted, there are those who do not do so with the people (house) of God, but there are many who do. And I do not see Jesus telling His disciples not to worry about those money-lenders in the temple, but in fact to consider the many who are righteous. He was not diplomatic about His Father’s house. No, He was very fundamental actually. Very very serious. No black or grey even. Only white! “My Father’s house IS a House of Prayer.”

        And we should be of a similar heart if we see His house (people, church) becoming ANYTHING but that. We should not try and think about all the good things, but rather burn with passion to see the Father’s house be what it is. A house of communion with Him.

        And that is my problem with most evangelical Christianity, both left (legalist) and right (liberal). The church exists for everything but for what it actually IS. And that really angers me! And what is worse, is that it is defended by the “good” that is being done.

        If at any point we see the people (house) of God being led or organised to accomplish anything other than the Lords eternal purpose, we should seriously question it, and not shy away from the fundamental reality by looking at all the good things. That is human logic, not Christ. We should stop feeling sorry for and accepting something that is not of God. That is not real grace or true love.

        It’s time to get serious about the House of God! For as serious as we are about it, is as serious as we are about Him.

  3. Dyl, I like the revamp to the blog! Looks great!

    You are so right. I know that in my own heart, I do not burn with a zeal for the restoration of God’s house as I should. We should be zealously fighting to build it and protect it and clear it of idolatry.

    My question is how? How do we actually go about doing this in practical terms? I would love to hear your feelings about this.

    My feelings about how we approach this practically involve two concepts: judgment and love. We must do both right.

    Firstly judgement. Now we have to identify the problem, put a name to it. I think the problem is the heart issue of selfishness or pride, that is a tendecy to act in whatever way promotes our comfort or joy, whether it means that others are joyful in the process or not. So people act in a way at a cost of the house, for their gain. This can be in finances, reputation, comfort, time, control…anything.

    Now there are two opposite ends of the spectrum when it comes to leaders acting in this way. There are those who are premeditated false apostles, prophets, teachers, pastors, etc. Who consciously are taking advantage of the flock for their gain. These people should be easy to identify from outward appearance, e.g. the oppulent lifestyles, inappropriate relationships etc.

    Then at the other end of spectrum you have the well-meaning leaders, who tend the flock as best they know how, with good conscience, but who unknowlingly manipulate or “protect” their comfort above the flock because of selfishness.

    Then you get the leaders who act in good conscience, putting the flock before their own needs, truly sacrificing themselves, but who are not yet perfected.

    It is easy to identify those on the extreme bad end of the spectrum and “fight” against them. We are called in the word to judge these people, to expel them and discipline them, whether they are true believers or not. But now towards the better end of the spectrum, determining who fits in where requires a judgment of the heart. And the word encourages us not to pass judgments in this way. Even “legalist” and “liberalist” are heart matters with few people being in the “obvious” category. 1Cor4:5 Therefore do not pronounce judgment before the time, before the Lord comes, who will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart. Then each one will receive his commendation from God.

    I agree that Jesus is “white” when it comes to the Father’s house, but it is not always black and white when it comes to the practicalities.
    But my feeling is even if we could judge a man’s heart, our battle is not against him. He is a part of Christ’s body. Our battle is against Satan who is the tempter to selfishness. If a leader’s heart were found to be corrupt in some way (for example when Peter compromised the gospel by trying to maintain his reputation with the Jews by not eating with the Gentiles) it is not our duty most of the time to remove him. In fact the Lord has put him there. We are actually called to pray for him. When Peter attempts to control Jesus (probably unconsciously, although sinfully), Jesus rebukes Satan, not Peter. Although I’m sure the disciples were rebuked by Jesus directly many times, it must have been to build up, in love.

    You said: I am filled with passion and zeal to “clear” the Father’s house of robbers and money-lenders. To clear it of systems of control, manipulation, and greed.” How are you going to do that when it is often the flock that manipulates, it is the flock that is greedy, controlling. These are the people Christ died for. The word teaches that to lay down the law doesn’t change anything, it only solidifies sin. It is only through grace and love that people are changed. It is only by demonstrating to people the beauty of Christ’s sacrifice, of the grace of the cross that they want to change, not by telling them how bad they are. I don’t think that we will accomplish anything in restoring the church by going in “guns blazing” at even the idolatry that we know is in men’s hearts. I don’t think that we can take Jesus’ act of righteous anger and draw conclusions from it about how we must deal with men’s hearts.

    So this brings me to love.
    1Cor8:1 Now concerning food offered to idols: we know that all of us possess knowledge. This knowledge puffs up, but love builds up.
    2 If anyone imagines that he knows something, he does not yet know as he ought to know.
    3 But if anyone loves God, he is known by God.

    So for those of us that have been “enlightened”, meaning that we know and desire what it means to love the flock, to follow Christ as Lord in everything, by applying this verse to ourselves, we know that it is not by knowledge that any change is effected. In fact we must see our knowledge as being imperfect even, because otherwise we become puffed up. Because no matter who you are, we are all imperfect and Christ is not King over every possible area of your life, so in passing judgments against others we are in fact judging ourselves. . But if we truly are zealous for God’s house, then we must love, and it is love which covers a multitude of sins. Yes, this love may mean speaking the truth in love when possible where we are given the opportunity to speak into peoples lives, but more than that it is the sacrificial love that Christ showed by giving himself for the church. It is only by giving ourselves, loving as Christ loved that we can ever build anything, or change anything. Although Christ cleared out the temple and drove out the money-changers, it was in fact those people that he would give his life for as well.

    Our righteous anger and zeal for His house must therefore overflow into love with sound judgment if we are going to build. At the same time I am aware of my lack of love and so I need much growth in this area.

    This is why I think it is important to focus on the good, because it is only by doing good in love that we can add anything, not by only speaking against the bad. The time will come for those who lead to be judged, and they will be judged according to the purpose of the heart. We must not prematurely do this because first, we are unable, and secondly, we judge ourselves in the process.

    This is my (passionate) feeling☺ What do you feel?

    1. Nic

      Thanks for your thorough reply. Glad you like the new theme. It allows for more space and gives the option to add Features images.

      Honestly, this is a complex matter. One that cannot be “solved” in a blog conversation. Many different men and women over the centuries have asked very similar questions. For some, they have remained questions, whereas for others, they have become motivators of search and change. Ultimately, we as individuals need to ask ourselves this question first: “I see that the House of God is being corrupted, am I willing to do whatever it takes to find the truth behind this matter, and then follow it to where it leads?”

      This is a journey, not an equation. There are many different reasons why the church is where it is today. Some God may condone, others He may not. But are we willing to journey with Him in discovering that? Or are we content with a corrupted house? This is the first and fundamental question. It is a matter of the heart my brother. A test of our love and devotion to Him. Not a question of “should [I] leave”, or” should [I] stay”, but rather: “What do [YOU] desire?” “What is in [YOUR] heart?”

      It is from that place of humility that God can begin to reveal to us His heart. Just like He encourages us not to throw our pearls before swine, so He too does not reveal His precious pearls to those who have not humbled their hearts to receive them. This is not an issue of what can we DO to FIX the church, but rather how can we HUMBLE ourselves to SEE His heart. And it is with that perspective that I use the phrase “clear the temple.” It is not my intention to speak to any leader and judge their motives and tell them what they have done wrong or right. As you have rightly said, only God can see the true nature of a man’s heart. Only he can truly judge.

      When I speak of “clear” I am referring to being in one heart with Christ to have a house that is clear of all forms of corruption. I am in alignment with His passion to see His Father have the house that He so desires. I am in one spirit with the Lord. And that means humbling myself to the place where I say, “Lord, I confess that I do not know what you really want anymore. I don’t really know what your house should look like. It has been so corrupted in so many ways over the last 2000 years. Would you show me what you desire it to be? Would you please lead me to the truth.”

      For I cannot clear His house. No disciple has a right to do so. Only he can do that. Christ was the one that drove out the money-lenders, not the disciples. And it is He who will clear His Father’s house today. All I can do is stand by him in agreement and support Him in his actions, even if I don’t understand them all.

      The disciples probably did not understand what He was doing. They grew up with the money-lenders and tradesman using the temple court as a market place. To them it was normal, just like to everyone else in Jerusalem. It had become the tradition, the custom, over many years of corruption in small degrees. Hence, they had a corrupted view of the house. But when Jesus came, and did what He did, they, for the first time, had a glimpse of the reality. For the first time they could realise and say, “if the Lord of glory acts in this way, well then there must be more to this temple than we have always known. There must be something great about this House that we do not understand. Let us follow Him and find out. Let us surrender what we think we know and tet us humble ourselves to be taught by Him. For it is He that knows the Father’s heart. Maybe, just maybe He will reveal it to us.”

      So, it is with that heart that I say that there is nothing we can do to clear the house. That is His prerogative. But we can stand with Him as loyal and humble friends in His pursuit to do so. There is much we can do to discover what it is that His Father so desires. What it is that is burns with passion in His heart. And if we are devoted to His cause, we will not be satisfied with a house that is corrupted in any way. We will be driven passionately to search out His eternal purpose and completely humble ourselves of our own understanding of “what church should look like” so that He can reveal to us what He wants.

      That is the journey that lies before us Nic. The journey into the heart of God. The journey of the ages. The one that reveals the mystery locked up in Christ from the foundation the world. The ultimate journey of all time. The journey that 12 men and a group of women decided to take when Jesus called them. The very journey that will shape this world for all eternity. The journey that we were born to take. The journey that I would very much like to take with you. And so I ask you brother,

      will you walk with me?

      1. I like what you’ve said! I do desire to give myself fully to God, to humble myself before Him, to let Him mould my heart and mind in all things. I desire this, although I know I am far from it. By His grace, I will attain to this.

        If you are following Christ, I will walk with you anywhere bro.

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