March 08, 2015

Zealous Jesus

John 2:13-22

After he was raised from the dead, his disciples recalled what he had said. Then they believed the scripture and the words that Jesus had spoken.

—  John 2:22

It's the third Sunday of Lent. In our Scripture for today, John portrays an angry Jesus. If you've dealt with angry people, or your own anger, you know how unpleasant it can be. The apostle Paul warns, "In your anger do not sin" (Ephesians 4:26). Jesus got angry when he saw what was happening in the temple courts. And yet he did not sin.

Jesus wasn't upset about local vendors providing worshipers something for a fee. But he was zealous that God's temple should be a place of worship. There wasn't room for people to pray. "Stop turning my Father's house into a market!" he said. Only later did the disciples connect his zeal with Psalm 69: "Zeal for your house will consume me."

Christ's passion for God's holiness made him zealous to save us. We are made in God's image (Genesis 1:26-27). And in Christ we are the new temple of God (1 Corinthians 3:16). Christ's passion carried him to the cross to make us "living stones," drawn together as God's temple (1 Peter 2:5).

Jesus was undeterred. He was heading for the cross to fulfill God's mission. God's image would be restored in us only through the work of his Son (Philippians 1:6; Colossians 3:10). If Jesus is so zealous for the holiness of God in us, shouldn't we be also?

Holy God, the passion of your Son inspires and scares us. May his zeal for your holiness inspire us to be his disciplined followers, your faithful people. In his name, Amen.

About the author — Norman F. Brown

Chaplain Norman F. Brown graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy, Annapolis, in 1969. He served aboard destroyers during the Vietnam conflict and ashore in San Diego, Calif., as an instructor. By then God had made clear his call to work in pastoral ministry, and Norman entered Calvin Theological Seminary, graduating in 1980. Chaplain Brown pastored churches during his ministry career but spent most of his time as a navy chaplain. During one assignment he served three years at Holy Loch, Scotland, where he and his wife, Ruth, encountered the Iona Community and their emphasis on spiritual disciplines. Chaplain and Mrs. Brown have three married children and nine grandchildren.

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