While he was in Jerusalem during the Passover Festival, many believed in his name when they saw the signs he was doing. Jesus, however, would not entrust himself to them, since he knew them all and because he did not need anyone to testify about man; for he himself knew what was in man. (John 2:23-25, CSB).
John 2 describes the launching of Jesus’ public ministry through two gospel stories that are very familiar to us – the first miracle of Jesus and the first cleansing of the temple in Jerusalem.
In the first miracle story Jesus was attending the wedding of a family friend when it became apparent that the celebration was low on wine. Jesus’ mother asked Jesus to take care of the wine problem and in a sort of obtuse remark, Jesus responded to His mother that His time hadn’t come (probably meaning the time for Him to be identified as the crucified Messiah had not yet arrived).
Yet, the time to begin His public ministry had arrived and he performed an inaugurating miracle by turning large vats of water–specifically, over 100 gallons–into fine wine! This act didn’t go unnoticed by both the maitre d’ of the ceremony nor by His disciples: “Jesus did this, the first of his signs, in Cana of Galilee. He revealed his glory, and his disciples believed in him” (vs. 11).
“What will the owner of the vineyard do to them? He will come and destroy those tenants and give the vineyard to others” (Luke 20:16, CEB).
In the Parable of the Tenant Farmers, Jesus responded to the Jewish religious leaders who questioned His spiritual authority.
In the parable Jesus told the story of a man who planted a vineyard and then leased it to tenant farmers to operate. The owner of the vineyard sent one of his servants to collect his share of the production from the vineyard but the tenants beat the servant and sent him away empty-handed. Two more times the owner sent a servant to collect from the tenant farmers and each time they beat the servants and refused to pay.
“The Lord our God has secrets known to no one. We are not accountable for them, but we and our children are accountable forever for all that he has revealed to us, so that we may obey all the terms of these instructions.” (Deuteronomy 29:29, NLT)
“When someone has been given much, much will be required in return; and when someone has been entrusted with much, even more will be required.“ (Luke 12:48, NLT )
These two verses, one from the Old Testament and one from the New Testament, present the same biblical principle–personal responsibility. It seems we live in an age when people are reluctant to assume personal responsibility for their own negligence and bad behavior. Or when Christians are reluctant to share the good news of Jesus.
We live in the time between the first and second comings of Jesus. It’s a time when we are joined to Jesus by His Spirit but awaiting his final coming. At His coming we will dwell in His personal presence. When Christ appears for the second time, those in Christ who are dead will be raised and along with those who are living in Christ will be transformed to share in the reality of the new heavens and earth where God personally dwells.
To live effectively and productively in this present age, Christians should be focused on eternity while making the most of the life they have in this present world.
“Have you considered My servant Job? For there is no one like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, fearing God and turning away from evil” (Job 1:8, NASB).
In this verse God is describing Job to Satan, showcasing him as an example of faithfulness among human beings. God repeats this same description to the devil in vs. 2:3. And, the book of Job begins with this same description: “There was a man in the land of Uz whose name was Job; and that man was blameless, upright, fearing God and turning away from evil” (vs. 1:1).
“Bring the full tenth into the storehouse so that there may be food in my house. ‘Test Me in this way,’ says the Lord of Hosts. See if I will not open the floodgates of heaven for you and pour out a blessing for you without measure” (Malachi 3:10, HCSB).
The prophet Malachi accuses the people of Israel of robbing God (vs. 8) because they did not pay their tithes. The tithes were used to support the priests and Levites, whose ministry was essential if Israel was to be faithful to God in its calling as His chosen people. Because their land was cursed by drought and pestilence (vs. 9,11), they felt justified not giving their tithes.
“I know your works, that you are neither cold or hot. I wish that you were cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I am going to vomit you out of my mouth” (Revelation 3:15-16, HCSB).
While the church in Sardis was chastised for its dearth of spiritual vitality, the spiritual condition of the church in Laodicea was repugnant because it was lukewarm–neither cold nor hot.
“For the eyes of Yahweh roam throughout the earth to show Himself strong for those whose hearts are completely His” (2 Chronicles 16:9, HCSB).
These words were spoken by a prophet named Hanani to Asa, king of Judah and Solomon’s great grandson, to rebuke him for forming an alliance with the king of Syria.
“O our God, we thank you and praise your glorious name! But who am I, and who are my people, that we could give anything to you? Everything we have has come from you, and we give you only what you first gave us! We are here for only a moment, visitors and strangers in the land as our ancestors were before us. Our days on earth are like a passing shadow, gone so soon without a trace” (1 Chronicles 29:13-15, NLT).
King David summoned all the officials of Israel to Jerusalem including the leaders of the tribes, the commanders of the army, and the overseers of royal property. He told them that he wanted to build a temple in Jerusalem to worship God, but God planned for his son, Solomon, to succeed him to the throne and build the temple.
“Now when David had settled into his palace, he said to Nathan the prophet, ‘Look, I am living in a cedar house while the ark of the Lord’s covenant is under tent curtains'” (1 Chronicles 17: 1, HCSB).
Doesn’t building the temple of God seem like the right thing for a man of God like David to do?