Sharing Our Faith Together

Morning Worship for Sunday 7 March - 3rd in Lent

by Andy Cokayne 7 March 2021

Welcome - A call to worship from Psalm 19 v 1-8 & 14

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Our first hymn is : 'In Christ alone'

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We turn to Our Lord in prayer - As we share in a prayer from 'Prayers for the People' (altered).

Father God, we come to you rejoicing in all your goodness and mercy: you created the world and you continue to preserve it. The dependability of nature and time enables us to live; your faithfulness is everlasting. We greet each new morning, we share with you each day, and we rest at night in the sure knowledge of your care. You patiently deal with us, restraining us from self-destruction. This morning we want to say sorry for our willfulness and sin; all that we do, say, and think that is not in your will for us. Through your Son our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, you have broken down the barriers which separated us from yourself. In Him we know forgiveness, and rediscover peace, harmony, beauty and unity. Help us to know the breadth, length and height of your love, that being enriched by your grace we may love you with all our heart, mind, and will, and serve you for the good of others and for your glory for ever. Amen. 

Let us share together in the prayer that Jesus taught us,

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name; thy kingdom come; thy will be done; on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, the power, and the glory for ever and ever. Amen.

Our second hymn is : 'Beneath the Cross of Jesus'

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Once more we turn to Our Lord in prayer - We share together in a Franciscan Prayer

Lord, make us instruments of thy peace:

Where there is hatred, let us bring your love.

Where there is injury, let us bring pardon.

Where there is doubt, let us bring faith.

Where there is despair, let us bring hope.

Where there is sadness, let us bring joy.

Where there is darkness, let us bring light.

O Divine Master, let us seek not so much to be comforted as to comfort, to be understood as to understand, to be loved as to love;
for it is only in giving that we receive, in forgetting ourselves that we find, in pardoning that we are pardoned, in dying that we rise to eternal life; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.


On this Sunday, the third in Lent, one of the passages of scripture set from the lectionary is from John's gospel chapter 2 verses 13-22, entitled Jesus Clears the Temple

Message - Authority! What authority? 
Listen here and/or read the notes below

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Had you gone shopping at Mickleover Tesco at about 7.30 in the evening some years ago, you may have witnessed an unusual site, a large Balfour Beatty Flatback lorry parked in the car park, taking up about 4 spaces. Before you ask, there were plenty of other spaces available in the car park. If you had been there at the right time, you would have seen Karen, my wife, jump down from the cab. We were doing our weekly shop, and as my car was elsewhere we had driven there in the lorry. Over the weekend we were taking, a large amount of rubbish to the tip, and I had borrowed the lorry from work. In the afternoon I had driven to Beeston, near Nottingham, to our depot, left my car and driven back to Derby in the lorry. But before leaving the depot, I had been challenged by one of the Managers, "Who said you can take that? Who gave you permission? Who gave you authority to drive it?" As I started to get into the cab, I was bombarded with questions. I quickly explained who and why, that our Director had given me the authority to borrow it for the weekend, that as it was a company vehicle both my wife and I had the authority to drive it, and it would be back first thing Monday morning. "Oh! Okay then." Came the response, so away I went.

No doubt we have all been challenged with a question, "Who said you could do that? Who gave you the authority?" Jesus was no different here. We read in verse 18 'Then the Jews demanded of him, "What miraculous sign can you show us to prove your authority to do all this?"' In Matthew 21 Jesus had entered the temple courts and had started to teach, the elders came to him and said "By what authority are you doing these things? And who gave you this authority?"  In Mark 2 we read that Jesus said to the man who couldn't walk and had been let down through the roof, "Son your sins are forgiven." Immediately the teachers of the Law questioned "Who can forgive sins but God alone?" But Jesus declared "The Son of man has authority to forgive sins." Referring to himself. Throughout his ministry Jesus authority was questioned and challenged, yet he remained unequivocal in his response. John records this first clearing of the Temple, a second clearing occurred at the end of Jesus ministry, about three years later, and is recorded in Matthew 21 v12-17, Mark 11 v12-19, and Luke 19 v45-48. Here Jesus had entered the Temple in Jerusalem, it was approaching the Passover festival, the greatest Festival in the year, and he was clearly disturbed by what he saw. We see his response to what he witnessed in three clear ways.

Firstly, we see his anger. We read in verse 15 'So he made a whip out of chords, and drove all from the temple area, both sheep and cattle; he scattered the coins of the money-changers and overturned their tables. To those who sold doves he said, "Get these out of here! How dare you turn my Father's house into a market." All who came to the temple had to make a sin offering, so they would bring an animal to sacrifice. However, they had to be accepted by the judges as without imperfection, and of course they were normally refused. So the only way to obtain an ox, or sheep, or dove that would be acceptable, was to buy one from one of the sellers in this outer court, and hence they had the chance to charge exorbitant prices for the privilege. The temple tax, that all who worshipped had to pay annually, had to be payed in the local coinage, and so anyone coming from afar, had to convert their money in the temple, and the money changers would exploit the worshippers by charging exorbitant fees for the coinage needed. Hence worship for them had become a money making enterprise, with of course the excuse that the money would go toward temple upkeep. But instead the exorbitant fees, often just went to line the pockets of those in authority. Jesus was rightly angry. 

How often do we claim to have righteous indignation, yet really it is just over something that gets under our skin, and not a true injustice? Do we get annoyed by things that are put in place by tradition, but prevent or inhibit others drawing closer to Jesus? If so how do we react? We need to be sure that our anger is for the right cause, and wisely used. 

Secondly, we see his concern for Prayer. We read in verse 16 "How dare you turn my Father's house in to a market!" The area of the temple called the Outer Court, which is where the sellers of animals and doves, and the money changers did their business, was also known as the Court of the Gentiles. The Gentiles although permitted to worship, were not allowed further into the temple, and so this area in the temple was the only place where they could pray and worship. With it being filled with animals and birds, it was both smelly and filthy, and hence not conducive to worship at all. The authorities keen to make money for the temple upkeep, and line the pockets of the favoured few, put that above the opportunity for Gentiles to pray. The prophet Isaiah in 56 v7 reminds the people "For my house will be called a house of prayer for all nations". Yet Jeremiah has to challenge the people with 7 v11 "Has this house, which bears my name, become a den of robbers to you?" Jesus want to reform what happens in the temple and make the Court of the Gentiles a place of prayer. 

What gets in the way of our prayer? Are we encouraging or discouraging people to pray? By 'what we have normally done', do we put stumbling blocks in the way of people wanting to pray? Prayer is a privilege not a right, how well do we use it?  

Thirdly, we see his authority. When challenged about his authority to do all this, we read his response in verse 19 "Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days." The Jews thought he was talking about the Temple building in Jerusalem, yet John reflecting on the event when writing his gospel records in verse 21 'But the temple he had spoken of was his body.' R.T. Kendall in his book 'Whatever happened to the Gospel?' wrote 'Have you ever thought of the times Jesus willingly allowed Himself to be misunderstood - and never bothered to explain himself? He said things that were quite ridiculous on the surface and made no effort to say, "Sorry, I didn't mean to say that." Or, "Let me rephrase what I said." Or, "What I really meant to say was ....". In other words, there were occasions when the people thought one thing, but Jesus meant another, and He did not bother to explain what He actually meant.' In this example here Jesus did not explain Himself, John did years later. Why he didn't choose to explain to his hearers what he really meant, we may never know, but we do know that he knew where and how his earthly ministry would end.

This statement "Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days." came at the beginning of his earthly ministry. Jesus was referring to his own body as the temple, that he would die, and be raised again in three days. Jesus carried out his entire ministry having at the forefront of his mind his most challenging task, of dying on the cross. Jesus was not dreading it, but knew that his trial and execution were ahead in only three years. If you have that at the forefront, everything else is put in perspective. 

What are we looking ahead to? When we look ahead to our true home, do we allow that to put all other things in their true perspective?

What makes us angry? Paul reminds us in Galatians 5 v20 that 'fits of rage' are acts of the sinful nature, and so we should not be like that. But Jesus was clearly angry when he witnessed how the Outer Court, the Court of the Gentiles, in the Jerusalem Temple was being used. Do we get angry when we see true injustice? How do we react? Or do we simply get angry when things do not go our way?  

Jesus clearly had in mind Isaiah's words "For my house will be called a house of prayer for all nations." What gets in the way, or detracts from our prayer life? Do we encourage or discourage others to pray, by our life and example?   

"Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days." came at the beginning of his ministry. Jesus was referring to his own body as the temple, that he would die, and be raised again in three days, and carried out his entire ministry with that thought in mind. That then put all other matters in perspective. I pray that what we are looking ahead to, will put all other matters into their true perspective.


Our final hymn is : 'And Can It Be That I Should Gain'

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We are united with churches throughout the country as we share together in the 'The UK Blessing'.

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