"A zeal for the house of the Lord consumes Him."

The second chapter of John's Gospel shows the beginning of Jesus' public ministry – His first miracle, His first appearance at the Temple, His first Passover and His first cleansing of the Temple. The central verse of this section is John 2:17. All these events were the Messianic fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy. We can study this passage to ask, "What is the activity and fruit of a life consumed with properly worshiping the Lord?"


Cleansing (John 2:13-16)

At the Temple, Jesus saw a commercial travesty in place of the proper worship of His Father. His anger was righteous indignation. These people were deeply offending and misrepresenting the Father He loves. With fierce determination, He set the Temple worship right again.

Acts of devotion are not true worship unless they are done with biblical integrity. Worship of the Father must be done in a unique and reverent way, and worldly things must not accompany its pursuit. Jesus did not condemn commerce itself but its inclusion in worship. Consumerism has no place in what is to be an exclusive experience mirroring God's character.

Fulfilling (John 2:17)

His disciples immediately realized that Jesus was governed by zeal for His Father. Proper worship in public and private was His consuming desire.

Warning (John 2:18-22)

The scene of Jesus upsetting tables and brandishing a whip can be quite shocking. What person would be allowed to wreak havoc inside the Temple in a holy rant? Only God Himself would have the authority. The Temple leaders asked for a sign, and Jesus answered with a warning. His resurrection would prove His authority in a supernatural fashion. Jesus' life and work changed the way we worship – not only in public gatherings, but now in a personal experience of God's Spirit.

Clarifying (John 2:23-25)

After these events, many people believed in Jesus. But Jesus did not believe in them. They were enamored by His miracles and words, but their hearts were not committed to Him. This is sobering: we can do right and say we believe even while our hearts are far from Him. Jesus makes a similar statement in Matthew 7:21-23. This is why Philippians 2:12-13 instructs us to search out the evidence of our salvation in a transformed heart and life. Proper worship should identify who is real and who is not.

Evangelizing (John 3:1-16)

Nicodemus is an example of someone who knew a lot about God but didn't know Him. As a Pharisee, he could quote Genesis through Deuteronomy. Yet the commercialism in the Temple evidently had not bothered him. Jesus challenges Nicodemus in a personal, private conversation. Jesus is no longer angry but loving, compassionate, and truthful.

Evangelism happens primarily outside the context of worship. The church exists first to glorify and worship the Father, then to see souls saved as a result of individual witnesses. Noble worship gives birth to evangelistic opportunity.

In 2016, may we reflect the desire of our Lord and be consumed with zeal for the church.

Application Points

  • What desire consumes you? See if this lines up with Jesus' driving desire. How do you guard your private time with the Lord? Are you consumed with God's desire for His character to be mirrored in public worship? Do you present yourself to Him with a pure heart and clean hands?
  • You may know a lot about Jesus. Does He know you? What time have you spent together? Are you merely a well-versed consumer worshiper, or does your life show evidence of being born again?
  • Proper worship gives birth to evangelistic opportunity. Pray and look for chances to share the Gospel in the right place with the right disposition.

Tools for Further Study

Cross References to Explore
  • John 10:30 – Jesus and God the Father are one.
  • 2 Corinthians 4:1-7 – Paul did not use human cunning to give people the Gospel.
  • Psalm 69:9 – The prophecy fulfilled by Jesus' zeal.
  • Matthew 27:50-51 – Jesus changed worship, shown by the tearing of the Temple curtain at His death.
A Hymn to Encourage: "O Worship the King"

O worship the King, all glorious above,
And gratefully sing His wonderful love;
Our Shield and Defender, the Ancient of Days,
Pavilioned in splendor, and girded with praise.

O tell of His might, O sing of His grace,
Whose robe is the light, whose canopy canopy space.
His chariots of wrath the deep thunderclouds form,
And dark is His path on the wings of the storm.

Thy bountiful care what tongue can recite?
It breathes in the air, it shines in the light,
It streams from the hills, it descends to the plain,
And sweetly distills in the dew and the rain.

Frail children of dust, and feeble as frail,
In Thee do we trust, nor find Thee to fail;
Thy mercies how tender! how firm to the end!
Our Maker, Defender, Redeemer, and Friend.