?March 15, 2009
Third Sunday in Lent (B)
John 2:13-22

A few years ago Ray Boltz wrote and recorded a song entitled “Watch the Lamb.” It tells the story of a Jewish father and his son making their pilgrimage to sacrifice their Passover lamb. The lad is charged with the responsibility of keeping up with the lamb. While they are traveling they come to the place where Christ is being crucified, and the father is heard saying to the lad, “watch the lamb.” In this passage we see the people of God watching to make sure the sacrifice is perfect. But they miss the real Lamb.

I. They didnt consider the season.
Exodus 12 records the first Passover of the Lord. The Passover became an annual feast, commemorating the time when those who observed the feast were spared from the death of their firstborn. As they sacrificed their spotless lamb and placed the blood of the lamb over the door, the death angel passed over and spared their child. Each year the Jewish males were required to journey to Jerusalem for the Feast of the Passover. Jesus was a devout Jew and had made the journey for this important day on the Jewish calendar. For many Jews it had become a ritual to go through without significant meaning. This was not the case for Christ. He knew and understood that He would become the sacrificial lamb for all mankind. To Him it was a holy season.

II. They didn’t look at the priorities.
The Law required that the animals offered as a sacrifice must be pure and without blemish. According to Leviticus 1:3 every Jewish male was required to pay a temple tax. To ensure the law was followed, inspectors and tax collectors were present at the temple. Coins used in the secular world could not be used because they were marked with the image of the Roman emperor. Pagans worshiped the emperor; and, therefore, the coins were considered an offense.
People who sold sacrificial animals and moneychangers had set up for business in the outer court of the temple. It was not uncommon for them to charge outrageous prices or to cheat the people who came to the temple. For the businessmen the priority was business, and big business it was. For many who were making the journey the priority was ritual or, at best, obedience. They had all lost sight of the real significance of the Passover. After all it wasn’t their firstborn who had been spared. For Jesus the priority was one of worship to the Father.

III. They didn’t understand the value.
To the eyes of Jesus, the temple was “His Father’s House,” not a place of merchandising. In His eyes, the Passover was about the miracle of His Father to provide for His people. In His eyes, the sacrifice was real, and it represented so much more than the people who were there could understand. The One of whom the Passover spoke was standing in their presence, yet they could not see.
Even when Jesus explained that if the temple wss destroyed He would raise it up, they didn’t see. The only temple on which they focused was this temple, which took 46 years to build. What foolishness it seemed to them for someone to speak of raising it up in three days. This marvelous sign of the resurrection of Christ went unnoticed. Even the disciples did not understand the meaning until after His resurrection.
Something wonderful happened on this day. Maybe the people of the day did not see it. And maybe the people of today do not see it. What happened? Jesus declared the holiness of His Father and announced His power over death. Today we are so busy “doing” church that we forget “to be” the church. Many of us have lost sight of the glory of God and the sacrificial gift of His Lamb, Jesus Christ. Perhaps we need to re-evaluate the season. Perhaps we need to set some priorities straight. Perhaps then we will be reminded of the real value of the Passover, that Christ’s blood is there for us. And when the angel passes over, we will be identified as His.

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