3rd Sunday in Lent – B LSB #’s 556:1-3; 556:4-7; 923
Text – John 2:19 & 22
Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, & in three days I will raise it up.” When therefore He was raised from the dead, His disciples remembered that He had said this, & they believed the Scripture & the word that Jesus had spoken.
THEN THEY BELIEVED THE SCRIPTURE
Complacency is a blight that saps your energy, dulls your attitude, drains your mental & emotional resources. The 1st symptom is satisfaction with things as they are. The 2nd is rejection of things as they might be. “Good enough” becomes today’s catchword & tomorrow’s standard. Good enough for government work was a saying of a man I used to work for.
Complacency makes people fear the unknown, mistrust the untried, & abhor the new. Like water, complacent people follow the easiest course – downhill. They draw a false sense of comfort & strength from looking to the way things have always been done. No matter how inadequate things are, they are satisfied.
Are you satisfied with your spiritual life? Are you satisfied with what you know about God’s Word? Are you satisfied with your church? Have you become complacent?
The Jewish people of Jesus’ time had. They knew that the “marketing” in the Temple was wrong, but they’d become comfortable with it. They were satisfied. Oh, they may have mumbled & grumbled, but they weren’t about to rock the boat. They’d given up on trying to change things for the right. They’d made an accommodation with the devil.
In what areas do you see our society, or our church, becoming complacent? There must be some. When you sit around & complain about things, there has to be a topic. Is it the sexual immorality we see everywhere? Or, are we so accustomed to it, we barely notice it anymore? It’s on TV, at the movies, in the magazines & on the Internet. It’s even in our own lives.
Maybe it’s the children, maybe the grandchildren, maybe even the parents. At any rate,
it’s too delicate a topic to bring up isn’t it? How about the drug abuse, like binge drinking & smoking pot? Does that strike you as a problem our country has become accustomed to? Drug abuse played a factor in a tragic accident where I lived in North Dakota.
Maybe you drinks a bit yourself, maybe not, but have you lovingly talked to someone who does have a problem with abuse? Do you contribute to, or work with, any of the Pro-Life groups? They’re not only trying to outlaw abortion or euthanasia. They’re also trying to rescue real people from either of those dangers.
Whether it’s the child to be aborted or the mother, abortion is unhealthy for both. And assisted suicide does not only affect the one who dies. Groups such as Lutherans for Life, help support & encourage people who’re facing those decisions. They do that, not only with words & prayer, but with deeds & material goods as well.
Lutherans for Life have plenty of room & need for your support. Or, have abortion & unwanted pregnancies become too large a problem for you? Have you become complacent?
Theologically speaking, it used to be a given that people actually believed Genesis as it says: “In the beginning, God created the heavens & the earth.” But, with evolution being taught in our schools since the 1960’s, people who believe in God’s creation have become the minority, even in the church. The Pope has stated that evolutionary theory is compatible with Scripture.
Our culture is so concerned with being politically correct, that few people have courage for their convictions any longer. Our postmodern society teaches us not to have convictions in the 1st place. Everyone is allowed to have their own truth, & you choose which reality you live in. People can choose entirely different realities & they’re just as valid – just as real.
Given the mindset in our culture, you might as well be complacent & apathetic. You can’t fight the system, & if you can’t beat ‘em, you might as well join ‘em. So we sit tight, we keep our mouth shut, & hope that things turn out for the best. We don’t want to get our hands dirty or be inconvenienced, & we certainly don’t want to be attacked by the cancel culture.
Fortunately for us, our Lord Jesus Christ did not sit tight & keep His mouth shut. He did fight the system. He did not accept the status quo. He was not apathetic or complacent. He didn’t settle for “good enough.” He wasn’t afraid of taking on the hypocrites, & He did all that in our place, & for us. Even His hands got dirty with the blood of His crucifixion.
The reason why – He loved us, & our love for Him motivates us to do the same. To forgive those who do not deserve it, to speak out against the abuses in our society and in our church. The theory of evolution is wrong. Abortion is wrong. Euthanasia is wrong. Drunkenness & sexual immorality are wrong. They are all an offense to our Lord.
But in addition every one of them has consequences. The results do not end when the sin stops. The hurt & the pain continue. The abuse continues, & only the news of our forgiveness is able to change people & stop those cycles of destruction. Each of you has that message of forgiveness, just as Jesus & His disciples did.
What are you doing with it? Have you put it on the shelf of things that you’ll get around to someday? Or have you already packed it away in the box of things that you’re too afraid to touch? PAUSE
Most of all we need to apply that message of forgiveness to ourselves. As Christ cleansed the Temple, He also would cleanse our hearts. He has already purchased our forgiveness with His death on the cross. It’s the worst kind of shame when someone who knows
of that forgiveness is unwilling to accept it for themselves.
After Jesus had cleansed the Temple, the Jews there demanded of Him, “What miraculous sign can you show us to prove your authority to do this?” You see they understood that what they were doing was wrong. They recognized their need for repentance & forgiveness, but they did not want to receive it. In their foolish unbelief, they instead demanded signs & explanations. In their complacency & lack of concern for obedience to God, they had compromised their faith. Now, it was dead.
The false doctrine that they believed, taught & practiced had killed their ability to trust in the true Messiah. Their lack of repentance made them too weak & unhealthy to help others. That’s why Jesus takes what seems to be a very radical approach to His cleansing of the Temple.
Our Lord & Savior was not concerned with being politically correct, or with winning friends. He was concerned with preaching the Law in order that the guilty might see the error of their ways, & become repentant, & come back to life.
Not only had their false teachings caused their faith to die, it was liable to take others to hell with them. Christ’s love for all His brothers & sisters drove Him to cleansing the Temple, even if it was not politically correct. We should rejoice that God’s Son would be so driven, because it was that same love that drove Him to His crucifixion.
God’s love for us is so strong that not even the thought of death caused Him to compromise. After all the failures of His people, throughout the OT, our Heavenly Father could have become complacent & given up. He could have said that it just wasn’t worth it. Let them lie in their own bed. They made it.
Instead, Christ went to the cross. He went there & gave His life. What is sad is that our sinful nature allows us to be complacent even while knowing that God died for you & for me. The sermon text reveals that Jesus’ own disciples had no idea what He was talking about until after His resurrection.
But in that statement we find hope for ourselves, because it shows that God is patient &
faithful. He will allow & bring events into our lives to draw us closer to Him – events that will give us reason to reflect upon life & its meaning. People who’ve had abortions actually do come to repentance. Drug abusers do come to the realization that Jesus Christ gives life; alcohol & methamphetamine do not.
People who’re involved in sexual addictions learn that Christ Jesus is the answer to their obsessions, & their need to be accepted. People of all walks of life are enabled by God to reject their complacency & to overcome the temptations of Satan to give up, to stay home or to surrender.
The power of the Holy Spirit is able to drive Satan & his demons out of our lives & to cleanse the temple of God that is our body. Through the power of the Word & Baptism & the Lord’s Supper, the Holy Spirit makes our hearts into a house of prayer.
For that reason it’s not a good idea to absent ourselves from God’s means of grace. It’s only through them that our Lord works to cleanse us from our complacency & apathy.
When God spoke His Words at creation, the nothingness did not understand Him, yet the entire universe came to be. When Lazarus was dead for four days & in the tomb, he didn’t understand Jesus when Messiah said to him, “Come out.” The power of God’s Word did what Jesus said it would do, & thus Lazarus, raised from the dead, came out of the grave.
As God enables you to believe the Scripture, & the Words that Jesus has spoken, then faith will be created in your heart out of nothing. You will be brought back from death to life.
To me He said, “Stay close to me, I am your rock & castle. Your ransom I myself will be, for you I strive & wrestle. For I am yours & you are mine, & where I am you may remain. The foe shall not divide us.” Amen. LSB 556:7
Pastor Dean R. Poellet