His disciples remembered that it is written: "Zeal for Your house will consume Me."
I. IN WHAT THE HOLINESS OF THE TEMPLE CONSISTED.
1. The true answer to this inquiry is to be found in the language of the Lord himself. The temple was his Father's house. It was the building which was originally erected in a measure upon the model of the tabernacle of the wilderness, the pattern of which had been communicated by Jehovah in some way to Moses, the servant of God. It was by Divine command that a certain special locality and building were set apart and consecrated to the service of him, who nevertheless "dwelleth not in temples made with hands."
2. The holy memories of national history gathered around this sacred edifice. The original tabernacle was associated with Moses and Aaron; the first temple at Jerusalem with the great kings - David who prepared for it, and Solomon who built it; the second temple with the great leaders of the return from the Captivity; and this restored edifice, in its costly magnificence, with the royal Herodian house.
3. The sacrifices which were offered, the priesthoods that ministered, the festivals which were observed, the praises and prayers which were presented, in these consecrated precincts, all added to the sanctity of the place.
4. And it must be remembered that the house of the Father was the house of the children; that our Lord himself designated the temple "a house of prayer for all nations. This may not have been acknowledged or understood by the Jews themselves. Yet there were intimations throughout their sacred literature in its successive stages that they, as a nation, were elected in order that through them all the nations of the earth might be blessed. The width of the counsels of Divine benevolence is apparent to all who study the psalms and prophecies of the Old Testament Scripture; and our Lord's language connects those counsels with the dedicated house at Jerusalem.
5. To our minds the temple possesses sanctity through its devotion to a symbolical use, for by anticipation it set forth in emblem the holiness of our Lord's body and the purity of the spiritual Church of Christ. The temple at Jerusalem should be destroyed in the crisis of Israel's fate; the sanctuary of the Lord's body should be taken down; and the holy temple, consecrated to the Lord, should grow in stateliness and beauty until all the living stones should be built into it for grace and glory eternal.
II. BY WHAT THE HOLINESS OF THE TEMPLE WAS VIOLATED. There must have been an infamous desecration in order to have awakened such indignation in the breast of Jesus. We can see two respects in which this was so.
1. The building was abused and profaned in being diverted from sacred to secular uses. Where there should have been only sacrifices, there were sales of beasts and birds; where there should have been only offerings, there was money changing.
2. The sanctity of the temple was violated by the cupidity of the rulers, who, it is well known, made a sinful and scandalous profit for themselves by the transactions which awakened the indignation of Jesus.
3. Nor was this all, injustice and fraud were added to cupidity - the temple became a den of thieves."
III. IN WHAT WAY THE HOLINESS OF THE TEMPLE WAS VINDICATED.
1. By the interposition of One of the highest dignity. Christ was "greater than the temple;" he was the Lord of the temple; nay, he was himself the true Temple appointed to supersede the material structure.
2. By the exercise of just and manifested authority. The demeanour and the language of Jesus were such as to preclude resistance, to silence murmuring. The Lord came to his own inheritance, to the house of his Father.
3. By the comparison of the edifice at Jerusalem to his own sacred body. In the language he used in his subsequent conversation with the Jews, he "spake of the Temple of his body," and in so doing he attached to the sanctuary a holiness greater than was conferred upon it by all the associations of its use and of its history. - T.
The zeal of Thine house hath eaten Me up.I. ITS SPHERE. We cannot confine it to the temple or any other ecclesiastical structure.
1. The universe, in all the glory of its interminable spreadings, is the house of God. There is not a lonely spot which is not full of Deity.
2. And when we divide this universe into sections we know that there is some scene hououred above others with the Almighty's presence — where angels cluster, and where the Creator may be said more emphatically to dwell.
3. The whole company of the faithful upon earth constitute "the house of God" — builded together for a habitation of God through the Spirit.
4. Nay, there is not a solitary individual, over whom the great change has passed, who is not tenanted by the High and Lofty One.
II. CHRIST'S ZEAL WORKING IN THIS SPHERE. Zeal devoured the spirit of our Saviour, and in driving out the traffickers from the temple we can recognize the workings of the principle, but we cannot limit it to this. We gather from the expression —
1. That Jesus was consumed with a lofty desire to benefit the denizens of the universe.
2. Over the inhabitants of heaven Christ poured His amazing solicitudes.
3. An ardent longing to rescue this world from its degradation, and to build up its desecrated fragments into s temple of the living God, throbbed in the heart of Jesus of Nazareth. Confined, as it might have seemed, to a single race, its effect branched out into every quarter of the house of God, and orders of intelligence which needed not to be brought to the Saviour might have been confirmed and sustained by that which put man within the circles of acceptance.
4. Viewing God's house as including the believing remnants of Adam's descendants, we see Him entering on His course as the sun enters on his march in the firmament. His soul yearned over those who had destroyed themselves. He entered into the nature on which rested the awful curse; and when the race He had come to redeem rejected Him, the zeal of God's house kept Him fast on His pathway of pain.
(H. Melvill.)I. The OBJECT of zeal — "Thy house." The Jewish temple as symbolizing —
1. The Old Testament Church.
2. The world of sinners.
3. Corrupted Christian communities.
II. The NATURE of zeal. True and godly zeal, says Bp. Jewell, eateth and devoureth up the heart, even as the thing that is eaten is turned into the substance of him that eateth it; and as iron, while iris burning hot, is turned into the nature of the fire, so great and just is the grief that they which have this zeal conceive when they see God's house spoiled, or His holy name dishonoured.
III. The MANIFESTATION of the zeal.
1. In rigidly expelling the defiling and the false.
2. In replacing and building up the pure and the true.
(C. H. Spurgeon.)
(Chronicle of London Missionary Society.)
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