What do you demand of Christ? If we were honest with ourselves, I’m sure we’d all have a long list of things we begged Jesus for over the years. What if Jesus already gave you everything you need in this life to thrive as God’s child on earth? Would that change the way you frame your prayers of supplication (prayers asking God to supply you with something or someone)?
After entering the Temple in John 2:13-25, Jesus was none pleased with what He saw in the court of Gentiles and purposed to purify the temple, driving the money changers and the animals for sale outside the temple walls, disrupting the racket the High Priest was running. And through this forceful and authoritative act, the people who witnessed it took notice. Sure, a man whipping animals and men, driving them from a place, is a disturbance that would catch everyone’s attention, but Jesus wasn’t in charge of the Temple, nor was he a Temple guard who’s jurisdiction it would be to do such an act. John leads us to believe that many saw this as a sign of Christs’ special nature. Their immediate response after the dust settled was to ask Jesus for another sign. They wanted more; they wanted to see proof of Jesus’ authority. They “needed” to see more!
Therein lies the genesis of the problem with humanity. Sure, the people could see and even appreciate someone driving out the very sinful and dishonest profit center set up by the greedy High Priest, but what they failed to see was the bigger picture…the spiritual one. From the time that our Parents (Adam and Eve) fell in sin in the garden, the hearts of all humanity were forever blinded to the spiritual truth of God. In fact, in Ephesians 2, Paul describes this blindness as spiritual death. Our sin blinds us to the spiritual realities exposed by God in Christ. And this is evident in the crowd gathered in the court of the Gentiles that day in John 2.
For those of us who are Christians, our eyes have been opened to our spiritual reality by the faith God instilled in our hearts, causing us to see our spiritual failure and our need for His salvation afforded us in Christ. Even after all of this, sin still affects us emotionally, mentally, and physically. We’re still, often, blinded to the spiritual reality around us. And this is no more evident than when we pray. We can often-times respond to Christ with the old “show me another sign” mentality. As if He hasn’t shown us all we need to see already. Our prayers of supplication treat Jesus more like a cosmic Santa Claus than our eternal Savior. Just like the crowd that day in the Temple “believed” in Jesus because of the authority He displayed, we too base our devotion to Jesus based on a transactional relationship.
Reflect on this: If Jesus would just fix my problems, would that change the way I relate to Him? If He would snap his fingers and supply some of what I think I need, would that affect my love for Him? Here’s a hard truth exposed by these verses:
If your affections for Christ are determined by what He supplies for you, then you’re guilty of treating Him like your own personal Santa Claus, not your personal Savior.
What we’re going to see, time and time again, in John’s Gospel is a Jesus who demands His disciples love Him for who He is and what He’s done and not based on some future performance that advances your life in a significant way socially, economically, materially, or professionally. As Jack pointed out to the West Campus on Sunday, the Bible is full of stories of real people who saw incredible signs from God but still failed to see Him for who He is. By way of example, Jack reminded us about the Children of Israel who were delivered from 400 years of slavery from the most powerful nation on earth but failed to trust Him to provide a way across the Red Sea as the stubborn Pharaoh was in hot pursuit.
The final 3 verses from this Sunday’s text (John 2:23-25), stand as a warning to us to trust, believe, and to be faithful to Christ, not because of what He will do, but solely based on what He has done (knowing that He will remain faithful to meet your every need until He returns or takes us Home). So, how can we avoid the trap of treating Jesus like a Cosmic Santa Claus? More on this in the next blog post.