Sermon Outline, March 20
February 19, 2005

Destroy this Temple, Mark 13:1-37

Palm Sunday celebrates the king?s coming to His city. On Palm Sunday, Jesus entered Jerusalem, hailed as a king.
-He requisitions a donkey, claiming it as Lord: ?The Lord has need of it.?E
-The donkey has been tied and needs to be untied (Mark 11:2), an echo of the prophecy of Jacob about the king from the tribe of Judah: ?He ties his foal to the vine, and his donkey?s colt to the choice vine?E(Genesis 49:11).
-It is a donkey on which no one has ever sat (Mark 11:2), a donkey fit for a king, a donkey exclusively designated for the king?s use (cf. Esther 6:8).
-He rides on the donkey into the city of David, like Solomon going toward his coronation, fulfilling the prophecy of Zechariah about the entrance of the conquering and pacifying king: ?Rejoice greatly, O Daughter Zion; shout, O Daughter Jerusalem. Behold your king is coming to you; He is just and endowed with salvation, humble, and mounted on a donkey, even on a colt, the foal of a donkey?E(Zechariah 9:9).
-He is received as a king. The people spread a carpet of palm branches and garments in front of his way (Mark 11:8). They give Jesus the ?red carpet?Etreatment. When Agamemnon returns from the Trojan War, Clytemnestra lays out garments for the returning king to walk on, to keep him from staining his feet with dirt. They acclaim him as the king of the Jews: ?Blessed is He who comes in the Name of the Lord. Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David?E(Mark 11:10).
The events of Palm Sunday are royal events from start to finish.

But, strangely to us, Jesus does not march into Jerusalem and make His way toward the palace. Instead, He arrives in Jerusalem and makes a beeline for the temple, and for the rest of his ministry the temple becomes His base of operations. He comes as a king, but heads straight for the priestly center of Israel, not the political center. And the temple is the location for the remainder of Jesus?Elife and work.
-According to Mark?s account, Jesus first enters the temple and inspects it on Palm Sunday itself (11:11), but then he withdraws to Bethany for the night.
-The next day He returns to the temple and begins to throw out the money changers and overturning the tables.
-Contrary to many popular interpretations of this passage, Jesus is not condemning trading, buying and selling, in the temple area as such. The law encouraged the development of a market in sacrificial animals around the temple. According to Deuteronomy 14:24-26, ?If the distance is so great for you that you are not able to bring the tithe, since the place where the LORD your God chooses to set His name is too far away from you when the LORD your God blesses you, then you shall exchange it for money, and bind the money in your hand and go to the place which the LORD your God chooses. You may spend the money for whatever your heart desires: for oxen, or sheep, or wine, or strong drink, or whatever your heart desires; and there you shall eat in the presence of the LORD your God and rejoice, you and your household.?E It was natural that a market would develop in the temple area where Jews could buy blemishless sacrificial animals.
-Nor is Jesus objecting to cheating and shifty dealing going on at the temple. He accuses the Jews of making the temple, the ?house of prayer for all nations,?Einto a ?robbers?Eden?E(11:17), but robbers do not cheat in their den. Robbers cheat and steal and do their violence elsewhere, and then retreat to the den for safety. This is how the Jews are treating the temple, as a safe haven where they can escape from the consequences of their sins.
-That Jesus means this is clear from the context of Jeremiah 7, the passage He is quoting: ?Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, ?Amend your ways and your deeds, and I will let you dwell in this place. Do not trust in deceptive words, saying, ?This is the temple of the LORD, the temple of the LORD, the temple of the LORD.?EFor if you truly amend your ways and your deeds, if you truly practice justice between a man and his neighbor, if you do not oppress the alien, the orphan, or the widow, and do not shed innocent blood in this place, nor walk after other gods to your own ruin, then I will let you dwell in this place, in the land that I gave to your fathers forever and ever. Behold, you are trusting in deceptive words to no avail. Will you steal, murder, and commit adultery and swear falsely, and offer sacrifices to Baal and walk after other gods that you have not known, then come and stand before Me in this house, which is called by My name, and say, ?We are delivered!?E?Ethat you may do all these abominations? Has this house, which is called by My name, become a den of robbers in your sight? Behold, I, even I, have seen it,?Edeclares the LORD.?E Jesus symbolically enacts the coming destruction of the temple, when the sacrifices and operations of the temple will cease forever.
-More specifically, Jesus condemns the Jews of His day for their violent opposition to the Romans. The word for ?robber,?Eas N. T. Wright and others have pointed out, is a word for ?brigand?Eor even ?revolutionary.?E As in Jeremiah?s time, the Jews in Jesus?Eday foolishly and disobediently chafe under Gentile rule, plot revolutionary violence, and think that they can escape from the consequences of their actions by winning Yahweh?s favor in the temple. In our sermon text, Jesus warns that these hopes are futile, and that the Jews will ultimately fall precisely because of their false confidence in the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord.
-Once Jesus pronounces His condemnation of the temple and its worshipers, He sets up shop in the temple, in the heart of Judaism. Over the course of the last week of His life, He wages a battle in the temple. He is not attempting to reform the temple. Things are too far gone already for that. He is announcing the temple?s destruction in both veiled and open ways, and He is acting in a way that provokes further response from the Jewish leaders. But He is showing the Jews, one last time, what the temple is for: It is to be a place of teaching, healing, salvation, and not a safe-house for brigands.
-He leaves the temple in the evening after His demonstration, but then he is back (11:27), and is challenged by the chief priests, scribes, and elders about his authority to do ?these things?E(v. 28), the things He has been doing in the temple. Jesus claims that His authority comes from John?s baptism, where the Father announced that He was the beloved Son. He has authority to take over the house of Yahweh because He is the heir, the Son. The parables and debates in Mark 12 also take place in the temple (11:27; 12:35; 12:41; 13:1).
-In the temple, surrounded by the jostling crowds gathering for Passover, He tells the tale of wicked vineyard tenants who are trying to seize the vineyard; He responds to the challenge concerning the poll-tax to Caesar; He responds to the Sadducees?Eunbelief; and He poses a conundrum from Psalm 110. The fact that Jesus speaks in parables is itself a sign of judgment, for it ensures that ?seeing they shall not see?Eand ?hearing they shall not understand.?E
-In the temple where scribes and chief priests walked and worked, He warns about ?scribes who like to walk around in long robes?Eand who seek ?respectful greetings in the market places?Eand who seek ?places of honor at banquets,?Ebut who meanwhile are preying on widows (12:38-40).
-Jesus spends the week making the temple a place of teaching and healing, a house of prayer for all nations, demonstrating what the temple could be, but also condemning the Jewish leaders for their sacrileges. Those leaders spend the week attempting to trap Jesus, trying to publicly humiliate Him, and finally plotting to kill Him. Throughout these debates and conflicts, Jesus emerges victorious, publicly embarrasses the scribes and priests, leads His opponents to fa ll into the traps that they set for H im, and earns their murderous hatred. Throughout, their response confirms His evaluation: They have turned the temple into a den of robbers, and Jesus?Eactions provoke them to attempt one climactic act of violence: the murder of Jesus.
-This may seem strange to us that Jesus would come as a King and then head to the temple. In biblical perspective, however, it is not strange at all. The temple of Yahweh was His palace, the seat of His throne. Jesus comes as the anointed of Yahweh, as Yahweh incarnate, and He comes to His house to challenge the stewards of His house to give an account of their actions. Further, the king of Israel was responsible for the upkeep and oversight of the temple; it was the king?s job to ensure that the temple was kept in good repair and was maintained properly. The battle in the temple is a battle about Jesus?Ekingship, about Yahweh?s kingship. In resisting and rejecting Jesus, the Jewish leaders are resisting and rejecting the One who has been set up as judge and ruler over them.

-It is crucial to see that our sermon text is embedded in this context. The Olivet Discourse in Mark 13 thus does not come out of the blue.
-Jesus passed initial judgment on the temple by calling it a den of thieves. After a week of conflict and debate, He pronounces a more definitive judgment on the temple: It is doomed. Jesus has predicted this in various ways through riddles and stories and parables and ripostes. But in 13:1 we have the most dramatic sign that the temple is doomed: Jesus leaves it, and never returns. As in Ezekiel 8-11, the glory of God, incarnate glory, departs from the temple, leaving it empty and vulnerable to desolation.
-Though the passage is often interpreted as a prediction of the end of the world, the immediate and more distant context make it clear that Jesus is talking about something else.
-The fact that it comes at the end of a series of conflicts between Jesus and the Jewish leaders is a sign that it?s about the temple in Jerusalem.
-This sermon is Jesus?Eanswer to the question of the disciples about the timing and signs of the destruction of the ?wonderful buildings?Ethat made up the temple (13:1-4).
-He describes a series of events that will take place before ?this generation?Epasses away (v. 30).
-Everything in the sermon is about events that occur within the generation of the apostles. Jesus?Ewarnings and predictions are specifically directed at them.
-The disciples will be delivered to the courts, flogged in the synagogues, and taken before governors and kings (v. 9).
-Jesus promises the apostles that the Spirit will give them utterance when they are forced to testify (v. 11).
-Families will divide over Jesus during the first generation of the church (v. 12), and people will hate the apostles because of Jesus (v. 13).
-The warnings of verses 14-15 are even more clearly specific to the first century context: Jesus speaks of ?those who are in Judea,?Eand assumes people will be on their ?housetops.?E While many of the Jews will be fleeing to the city and temple for protection, Jesus urges His disciples to flee from the city. The whole passage deals with events within the lives of the apostles.
-Verses 24-27 are often seen as a problem for this interpretation of the passage, but when seen in biblical context they pose no problem at all.
-In verses 24-25, Jesus is quoting from Isaiah 13 and 34, both of which are prophecies about the end of an empire. Jesus is not talking about the end of the whole universe, but about the end of a particular earthly and historical order.
-Verse 27 contains a quotation from Daniel 7, which speaks of the Son of Man ascending to heaven on the clouds. Jesus says that the destruction of the temple will enable the Jews to ?see?Eor perceive that the Son of Man, Jesus, has been given all authority and power and dominion. The destruction of Jerusalem will be Jesus?Epublic vindication, proving that He was a prophet and more than a prophet.
- But there is another crucial dimension to Jesus?Eprophecy, one that helps us to see the depth of what Jesus is predicting. Jesus is talking about the destruction of the temple, but we know from John 2 and other places in the NT that Jesus Himself is the temple. As Mark Horne has pointed out, His prediction of the destruction of the temple thus foreshadows His own arrest, sufferings, and death.
-Jesus predicts that the Jews will deliver the apostles to the courts (13:9); but first Jesus is delivered to the courts.
-Jesus predicts that the apostles will be ?flogged in the synagogues?E(13:9); but first Jesus is flogged (15:15).
-Jesus warns the disciples that they will stand before governors and kings to testify (13:9); but first Jesus stands before Pilate the governor (cf. Matthew 27:2, 11, 14-15, 21, 27) and before King Herod (cf. Luke 23:7ff.).
-Jesus tells the apostles to leave their cloaks behind them when they flee from the city (13:16); in Gethsemane, a young man flees without his cloak (14:51-52).
-Jesus predicts tribulation (13:19), and suffers tribulation, sorrow, and pain.
-Most dramatically, the apocalyptic imagery of 13:24-27 is literally fulfilled in the cross.
-After the days of tribulation, ?the sun will be darkened and the moon will not give its light?E(13:24). At the cross, ?when the sixth hour had come, darkness fell over the whole land until the ninth hour?E(15:33).
-In the coming generation, ?the powers that are in the heavens will be shaken?E(13:25); at the death of Jesus, the temple veil, which symbolized the veil of the firmament dividing heaven and earth, was torn in two, rent like the heavens at Jesus?Ebaptism.
-When the temple falls, all will perceive that the Son of Man has received dominion from His Father (13:26). As Jesus dies, as the temple of His body is destroyed, a Gentile centurion confesses that Jesus was the Son of God (15:39).
-Even the Jews who mock Jesus on the cross recognize a connection with His temple predictions: ?Ha! You who are going to destroy the temple and rebuilt it in three days, save Yourself, and come down from the cross!?E(15:29).

In short, Jesus?Esufferings and death are a first fulfillment of the prophecy about the destruction of the temple. In this we see the purpose of Jesus?Ework, His substitutionary sacrifice for the people of God.
-Israel has made the temple of God into a den of robbers, and that temple is going to be destroyed. But there is still hope, since Jesus offers Himself to destruction as a substitute temple, a temple destroyed and raised on the third day. Should the leaders of Israel respond in faith, they might yet be saved, and the vineyard might not be taken from them.
-But Jesus predicts that this will not happen. If they hate the Master, they will hate the disciples; if they flog and arrest and kill Jesus, they will flog and arrest and kill the disciples. And because they resist and reject the gospel as it comes through Jesus?Edisciples, the vineyard of God is taken from the tenants, the chief priests and scribes, and given to another, to the Son and His apostolic patriarchs. Because they do continue to trust in their temple of stone, rather than in the destroyed and raised temple of Jesus?Ebody, ?not one stone shall be left upon another which will not be torn down.?E
Though this chapter is about an event that happened nearly 2000 years ago, it is not irrelevant to us. We preach the same gospel, and it makes the same demands: Trust in nothing ?Eno religious institution, no heritage, no ethnicity ?Enothing but Jesus. We must be willing to abandon father and mother, land and inheritance, for the sake of the gospel. And the church?s triumph and advance still comes through her suffering; a new temple always arises, as it did at the beginning, from the rubble of the old. The king comes into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday to announce and enact the destruction of the temple. Jesus demonstrate s His kingship by destroying the temple. But even more poin tedly, Jesus demonstrates His kingship by giving the temple of His body to destruction, and by erecting a new temple on the third day.

In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.

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