Posts Tagged ‘Temple in Jerusalem’

St. Luke 2: 49:  And  he said to them,  “Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?”

In the Old Testament reading, Solomon’s focus was not on himself and his prerogatives as king:  long life, riches and winning over his enemies.  His focus was on his people.  He prayed to the Lord for a wise and discerning will to govern this great people.  He knew that he could not rule knowing himself. His initial wisdom was the wisdom to say he needed help. His focus finally was on the Lord.

In the Epistle Reading, the Apostle Paul begins his epistle to the Ephesians in these magnificent verses, focusing his brothers and sisters in Christ, not upon themselves but on Christ, in the “heavenly places”.  The Lord does the choosing, the predestining, forgiving, redeeming and the lavishing of His grace for them, for us. 

And at the age of 12, before He grew into a man at 13, Jesus knew where He had to be.  Three times in the first 4 verses the place is mentioned:  Jerusalem, the place of God’s Word, His Name.

Now the situation here is NOT like Joseph was driving the car and said, “Son, how did your like Passover this year…son?! Son?!…Mary, I thought you were you going to get him at the rest stop..”  “I thought you did, Joseph!”  The Passover group from the towns were more like caravans, maybe 50 or so family and friends making the pilgrimage to Jerusalem, with thousands of Israelites going up to Zion, the Lord’s city and Temple.  In a group of that size, walking, strung out along the road, talking and laughing, it would have been quite possible to lose track of a 12 year old.    

Jesus purposely stays behind in Jerusalem. As we think on this Gospel that is the real problem we have with it.  Jesus on purpose stays behind as if He is breaking the 4th commandment, Honor your father and your mother, yes!  But the fourth commandment is the Lord’s intention to be the fourth one, as the first is, You shall have no other gods before Me. He had to be in His Father’s House.  and so He becomes lost to His parents.  

Mary and Joseph are traumatized and understandably so.  One thing about their Child:  He really could not get lost. In fact, He is the one who does the finding.  In Luke 15, the entire chapter is unique in his Gospel:  three parables of lost and found, the shepherd in search of His one lost sheep, the woman householder in search of her one lost silver coin, and a father in search of his one lost son.  Jesus, even at 12, is found where He is must be found:  His Father’s House, the first place we should all look. Jesus can be lost…by us.  “Just think what it would mean if we lost the child Jesus from our hearts!” “Christ is lost in actuality and reality by departing from pure doctrine, by unbelief and severe sins against conscience.” (Gerhard).   The problem is not doubt but doubt resulting in unbelief, no longer taking the Lord at His Word that He made you, He redeemed you, He sanctified you. Why do so many professors and teachers want to take us away from the Lord and faith?  The greatest scientists were Christians and many of the current crop are not. These professors want to be your guiding light and will admit no other light which is curious for people who prize open inquiry.  Then people run to and fro for all sorts of sub-Christian and anti-Christian doctrines and teachings looking for guidance.  Then men and women have supposed sanctions by  looking for salvation even in sin to whet our lusts for more in greed and sex.  We were looking for a god in all the wrong places, places that are agreeable to us and not where and when the Lord said He will be…as in the manger, in the  Temple and finally upon the cross. There were no other gods before Him, in the Temple on the day of His visitation.  The Lord’s first words in Luke are in the Temple, in Jerusalem and His last Words would be in the Temple and then outside the city of Jerusalem on Golgotha. Luke tells us that Jesus MUST be in the Temple, His Father’s House and the Lord will use that word again as in The son of Man must be betrayed, suffer, be crucified and rise again on the 3rd day.

There are other so-called ‘gospels’ from the 2nd and 3rd centuries called the “Gnostic Gospels” in which as a lad, Jesus causes a boy to fall off his donkey and die, then Jesus raises him.  Or another in which Jesus is playing in the mud, making mud birds and then causing them to come to life.  Jesus’ Church did not accept them because, The  Holy Spirit did not inspire them because they are factually false as seen by the fact that He did those ‘miracles’ all for Himself.  Jesus as a boy in the Temple, and keeping the 1st and 4th commandments, in that order, is what 12 year old Jesus did as His focus was not Himself but His Father and His Word.  He did not make His Father’s House into a playhouse for His amusement or an inflatable fun house, filled with sinners’ hot air.  The Lord’s House is filled with His breath and wind, that is, the Holy Spirit as His Word is there and finally, fully and for all:  the Word made flesh.  The Temple was the House of God’s Word and as He told Solomon: for My Name. So when Jesus entered the Temple He was coming home.  Jesus knew where He had to be, the locus of His entire life:  His Father’s will, as Solomon and Paul point us also in Christ to the Lord.  Without Jesus we are lost.  Without the Lord, Israel would still be found as slave people in Egypt.  Joseph and Mary had just come from the most important of all Old Testament holy days, the Passover.   Passover, pascha, the Greek and Hebrew word, is all about the Lord finding and saving His people.  The Lord’s finding His lost people is freedom.

The Christian’s focus is always the different locus.  When we make our selves the direct object of inquiry, the result is either one of two things:  despair, I am no good or overweening pride. His Word is ever our guide between despair and pride to show aright our right and to give us anew the grace of His forgiveness.  The locus is the Lord’s commandments and the promises fulfilled in Jesus.  Solomon went every to Gibeon to offer a 1000 burnt offerings and what Solomon finally needed was God’s Word, Law and Promise—showing us the way to go and now in Solomon’s Lord, the Way Himself in the lad who became a man, the man for all men. We are told that Solomon’s conversation with the Lord was a “dream”, but it was no nightmare!  We have nightmares aplenty in our day from selling fetal body parts to greed and lust.  The Christians’ focus is a different locus, place in life, home and work:  the home altar of His Word, the Catechism and it’s six chief parts.  We need orientation, noting that the word “orient” is the word for “east”, from whence has come our Savior, orienting us throughout our days ahead according to His Word.  “Christ especially wanted to assume the aging promise to show all mankind, not matter what their age, would have in Him a Savior” (Johann Gerhard). 

The Lord told Solomon that the Temple would the place for His Name, a different locus and on that day in the Temple Jesus, literally, “God saves”, His Name entered into the Temple to begin salvation.  Jesus’ focus was not Himself but His Father.

On The Circumcision and Name of Jesus, for the sermon, I remembered the probably only funny song by Johnny Cash, “A Boy Named Sue”.  It is a story song about “Sue’s” father giving him the name Sue.  And the way how he hated it all his life because it got him into fights…and hating his father who also left him and his mother when he was three.  One day he caught up with his Dad in a bar, they got into  fight and his dad told him the reason he Sue that name:

 And he said, “Son, this world is rough And if a man’s gonna make it, he’s gotta be tough And I knew I wouldn’t be there to help ya along So I give ya that name and I said goodbye I knew you’d have to get tough or die And it’s the name that helped to make you strong”

“And it’s the Name that helped to make you strong”.  The Name of Jesus will make us strong, tough, steadfast in the faith because He was and is strong.  He was born an infant and from day 1 bearing the sin of the world.  He fasted for 40 days and nights and was tempted by Satan three times and that would not be the last time. He walked to and fro all of Palestine, preaching, teaching,doing good and at every turn someone was out to get Him and finally they would.  He would be cast out of the Temple and crucified on Golgotha…a different locus is the focus of our salvation. He was tough, yet He was and is tender toward sinners who receive with child like faith, a faith He knew as a child.  He is tender, as a mother hen who gathers her brood, so we are saved and can be tender toward each other bearing each other’s burdens. His Name will make you strong as He has saved you to be His, strong in faith and in love serving, in His Name, In the Name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost. Amen!

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Text:  1 Corinthians 6: 19-20

Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, 20 for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.

 What happens in a temple?  What was the Temple in Jerusalem all about? The Temple was for prayer, praise and thanksgiving.  The Temple in Jerusalem was for sacrifices for the atonement of sin and wrong.  The Temple in Jerusalem, the first one built by King Solomon, was the place of the Ark of the Covenant, that is, the Temple in Jerusalem was for the Word of God: preached and taught. The Temple was for the Word of God  that is central and crucial:  God’s Name. As the LORD said, the Temple was the place of God’s Name so that many would call upon the Name of the Lord and be saved.  The Temple, the place for the Word of God, was the time and place for saving doctrine making saving faith.   So the Temple was for the building up of God’s people in faith toward God and in fervent love toward one another. The Temple was God’s plan for Israel as God has planned the Temple not made with human hands, Jesus Christ. “…do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? 

 The number one sense organ for the Lord’s Temple are our ears.  When Hannah’s prayers were answered for a child, as she prayed at Shiloh where the Ark of the Covenant was at that time, she rejoiced when she knew she was with child.  Because the Lord heard her, she named her son, Samuel, literally God hears.  And God hears was in the Sanctuary at Shiloh, assistant to the priest, Eli and one evening he hears a voice. As we heard in today’s Old Testament reading, he had heard the Lord and His Word to him.  Eli said, when you hear, say, “ Speak, Lord, for your servant hears.”  Eli was right:  the only  way that Samuel did know the Lord until the Lord revealed His Word to Samuel.  The Word made flesh, His epiphany has been revealed to Jew and Gentile:  Jesus Christ. He revealed His Word, His Name to you when  pastor a poured water over your head and said, You are baptized in the Name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  Your plural bodies are just like the Temple in Jerusalem was:  the place for His Name.  We trace the Cross over these Temples at the Name of the Holy Trinity, we are reminding ourselves we that our selves are not our, you were bought for a price.  What price?  Millions and millions of dollars, no!  You were bought by the holy, precious, innocent sufferings and death of Jesus Christ, God in man-made manifest. And the Corinthians were selling out their temples for the price of a one night stand. “…do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? 

 How do you build a temple?  When it comes to building a mortar and bricks temple, I would not know where to begin, but I do have darn good idea of the ways to desecrate and destroy a temple.  For instance, synagogues spray painted with swastikas and Torah scrolls defiled.  Religious leaders preach hatred and violence in their temples, against gays, women and the infidel, in the name of their deity. Ministers preaching same sex marriage, abortion from the pulpit, and the congregation giving the Amen or shrugging their shoulders with the “whatever” attitude.  When the greed of the so-called prosperity gospel is preached, but not the Lord who prospered us with His blood for our eternal salvation, money becomes the idol.  The hot theological issue in Corinth was that since the body does not matter, and Jesus has saved us and we are very spiritual, it is okay to hook-up with a prostitute. In response to the Corinthian Christians immorality, the Apostle Paul wrote to them the Gospel:  “You are a temple of the Holy Ghost”.  The church, the Temple of the Holy Spirit, in Corinth, the house of the Lord was fast becoming a whore house, but the Lord had claimed the Corinthians as His House, in His love poured out through His only-begotten Son.  “…do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? 

The priesthood at the time of Israel was hereditary.  Eli’s sons, Hophni and Phineas were priests in Shiloh like their father and the Word of the Lord was rare in those days.  Why was the Word of the Lord rare in the days of Samuel?  Hophni and Phineas were stealing from the sacrifices from the people and laying with the women who came to worship at Shiloh.  It’s hard to hear the Word of the Lord, when ears are filled with wickedness.  Hophni and Phineas had turned to their own way.  It’s hard to hear the Word of the Lord when the ears are filled with clamor and dispute. You are a temple of the Holy Ghost.  The temples of fame, wealth, personality, power cost a lot: our own souls.  This Temple is bought with price of Jesus’ blood, His sacrifice once and for all,not in the temple but for the Temple, for us. .  “…do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? 

 The Lord wants it be known we are a temple of the Holy Ghost within you.  He saved what He created and will bring it to fruition in the kingdom come.  He loves mankind.  He saves His creation, it’s worth saving, after all it is good, and man and woman. As in Psalm 8:

 what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him?

Yet you have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings
    and crowned him with glory and honor. Ps. 8

 For you formed my inward parts;    you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.14 I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.Wonderful are your works;    my soul knows it very well. Ps. 139

 The Lord made human nature for Himself in faith and love.  He restores us in His reconciliation upon the Cross. God made us in His own image, in His own image He made us.    Man’s natural habitat, his nature, is not sin. It is faith. 

 Jesus said to Nathaniel that he would see heaven opened. The allusion in seeing heaven opened is the Patriarch Jacob’s dream on his way to Haran. The dream is commonly called Jacob’s ladder but what he saw in his dream was more like a temple and the Lord stood next to him on the road and the angels ascending and descending…but this is key: heaven opened.  Heaven opened when Jesus Christ was baptized and heaven opened when the Cross is lifted high, the mark of the true temple, of heaven come down in a Man, Jesus Christ for our forgiveness.  Truly, greater things will Nathaniel see:  the epiphany of Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection.  Clinging and holding to Jesus Christ in His promised Presence in the Holy Spirit in Word and Sacrament is the reception in faith of His forgiveness.  The angels are messengers of God, bringing God’s Word to His people.  The Lord promised Nathaniel He would see the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man.  He would see the many messengers of God’s Word proclaiming, teaching and living the Word of the Promises of God fulfilled in Jesus Christ.  Our ears hearing the Gospel and faith clinging to the Savior in His love of mankind.  .  “…do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? 

 In the Gospel, one to one John the Baptist told his disciples, Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world, then one to one , then Andrew tells Peter, then Philip tells Nathaniel.  This is how the faith was spread throughout the Roman Empire under persecution, no church buildings but the temple of the Holy Ghost was there and the church grew exponentially.  Today’s is also the Confession of St. Peter. The Church held and holds to the confession of Christ. Bonhoeffer:

 Peter’s church, that does not mean a church of opinions and views, but the church of the revelation; not a church in which what “people say” is talked about but the church in which Peter’s confession is made anew and passed on; the church which has no other purpose in song, prayer, preaching, and action than to pass on its confession of faith…

 You could be and maybe have been part of a neighbor, friend or family members’ divine and eternal joy  in Christ by confessing Christ is your Lord.  You are the Lord’s talking Temple. The place with His people receiving the fruits of Jesus’ sacrifice, once and for all, for prayer, praise and thanksgiving, the place of His Word, His Name.  His Temple is all gift.  “…do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? 

 I conclude with a quote from Luther’s Sermon on today’s Gospel:

 “…what Christ cannot abide is if I assume that His kingdom is built on my wisdom and riches and that it cannot stand firm and endure without the protection, counsel and service of kings, princes, and lords.  Christ can very well dispense with all this.  He wants it clearly and definitely understood that all who seek entry into His kingdom must seek it by nothing but grace.  Christ has regard for no one because of his pile of guldens (money), his beauty, his wisdom, his golden hair, or because he wears a garment embroidered in gold or silver, or a gray coat. No, it is grace alone that counts.  His is to be a kingdom of grace, belonging to those who are wretched and poor, whether they be men or women, rich or poor.”

The peace of God which surpasses all human understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.  Amen.


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