Zeal that Consumes
Zeal for Your house has consumed me, and the insults of those who insult You have fallen on me. Psalm 69:9
We tend to think of zeal in the negative sense. Overzealous, etc. The zeal recalled by John here is in the most positive sense imaginable.
Jesus enters the temple and encounters a scene that disturbed Him greatly. The callous disregard for the holiness of His father stirred him so much He had to act. That’s what passion will do. It inspires action.
Passion is one of our strongest emotions. As language has evolved, we now have over a half dozen words for the single Greek word here in our text.
Zeal, jealousy, envy all have passion in common. Until the arrival of Jesus, the temple was the only building in all Israel where sacrifices for sin could be made to atone for sin. Those sacrifices were their act of worship. A lot different than today. Today, we consider the singing that leads up to a message, worship. That would have occurred in the Synagogue. The sacrifices of worship were to be offered just outside the Holy of Holies, the most sacred place in all Judaism.
So when Jesus encountered what amounted to a flea market just outside the Holy of Holies, the symbol of His Father’s holiness at the time, it was an insult to His Father.
Holiness isn’t talked about much anymore. Neither is sin for that matter. Truth be told, sin wouldn’t matter, but for the Holiness of God. Sin separates us from God. It’s so serious that without the shedding of innocent blood there can be no access to holiness. Those animals had to give their blood. They had to die because of sin. Jesus had to die, His blood for ours, so we wouldn’t be consumed by God’s wrath.
The religious leaders at that time had so ritualized the act of worship and sacrifice that over time, the very reason for the sacrifice had been lost. People could easily just go through the motions and think they had done something meaningful.
The same could be said of many churches today. Hopefully not here at Grace, but it could happen. Only by continually reminding each other of God’s holiness and the importance of confessing our sins will we have any chance of seeing what Jesus saw that day. Understanding holiness inspires zeal that consumes us for our Heavenly Father.
I suggested reading Psalm 119 for this reason. Nearly every verse contains something regarding God’s word and how it can be the guiding light of our life.
I failed to mention yesterday that there’s a link at the bottom of the Sermon notes in the Church app to a devotion John Piper wrote concerning Psalm 119. If you’ve read this far and are thinking about taking my “Psalm 119 Challenge,” but haven’t decided, give it a look. It might help with that decision.