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October 17 I Wednesday

Isaiah 50-52

1 Thessalonians 5

 

“The Jews then responded to Him, ‘What sign can You show us to prove Your authority to do all this?’”

—John 2:18

 

We must not read the story of Jesus overturning tables in the temple as an insulated event. For about a year prior, John the Baptist had been preaching a message of repentance and baptizing people in the Jordan River. When the Jewish leaders sent an envoy to investigate John’s ministry, they ultimately rejected it as not from God and refused to submit to his baptism. If we consider Jesus’s scene at the temple in light of this event, we once again see the religious leaders obstinately refusing to accept God’s rebuke. They stubbornly ignored Jesus calling them out for their greed and for failing to keep the court of the Gentiles a place of true worship. Instead, they questioned Jesus, demanding to know what authority He had to clear the temple courts, not realizing He was God in the flesh standing before them.

When the Word of God comes to us in rebuke, our response is never neutral. We either soften our hearts, listen to His Word and repent, or we harden our hearts, become set in our ways and refuse to repent. The Jewish leaders at the temple had the latter response, but they should have known better. It took years of studying and memorizing Scripture to become a Jewish leader. Equipped with this knowledge, they should have been the first ones to recognize John’s ministry as legitimate and Jesus’s rebuke as just and true, but instead, they obstinately refused to acknowledge their fault.

Paul writes in Romans 12:11, “Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervour, serving the Lord.” The Jewish leaders had zeal, but for all the wrong things. When we spend time with God, we become zealous for the things He is zealous for—relationship with Him, holy living and reaching the lost and the broken. Not spending time with God does not make our zeal disappear; it simply redirects it. We begin prioritizing other things until God gets lost in the shuffle. Those involved in vocational ministry are especially vulnerable to this danger, for the nature of their work makes it easy to get caught up in religious routine over God Himself.

Not every Jewish leader remained obstinate against Christ, however. John 12:42 says that “many even among the leaders believed in Him,” though they often remained secret disciples. Two of these leaders were Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus, the only two members of the Sanhedrin who voted against crucifying Jesus and who buried Him afterwards. If Jesus could reach some of these stubborn Jewish leaders, then He can also reach people today who seem committed to rejecting Him. His Word can cut through even the most obstinate disbelief.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, keep me open to Your correction and rebuke, and thank You that Your Word can cut through any amount of disbelief.


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