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[John Series No.11] Jesus Who Purified the Temple

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And the Jews’ passover was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. And found in the temple those that sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the changers of money sitting: And when he had made a scourge of small cords, he drove them all out of the temple, and the sheep, and the oxen; and poured out the changers’ money, and overthrew the tables; And said unto them that sold doves, Take these things hence; make not my Father’s house an house of merchandise. And his disciples remembered that it was written, The zeal of thine house hath eaten me up. (John 2:13~17)

By the Coming of Jesus

The story of Jesus going to the temple of Jerusalem and cleansing it is a famous one and it makes us realize extremely deep and important things about spiritual life. At the time, there were merchants who sold oxen, sheep, and doves at the temple of Jerusalem. The oxen would urinate and poop, the sheep would loudly bellow, the doves would flap their wings . . . . The temple was a big mess. There were many people at the temple at that time. Those in charge of the temple, Sadducees, Pharisees, priests . . . . There were many people but none of them could cast these things out. But Jesus came and cast them out. I often feel such things in my spiritual life. When I have various problems arising in my heart, I often try to take care of them myself through my methods and ways instead of looking to have Jesus come to my heart and take care of these problems, even though I believe Jesus. But in such instances my problems remained unsolved, and the Lord took care of them when I looked and relied on Him.

The Bankrupt Life

A person came to see me last spring. He had just turned sixty and was about my age and spoke comfortably with me. As I spoke with him, I thought in my heart, “Wow! How could he have this kind of a heart?” I say so because when I meet and speak individually with people about the Bible, for the most part people simply listen to what I am saying. They have their own thoughts and perspectives and my words do not enter them so well. When I preach the Word, it is very easy and goes well when speaking to people who accept the Word. But to people who are not so, they become tired and bored even only after ten minutes of listening. This makes it difficult for me as well. But this man I met last spring accepted everything I said even when I spoke about ordinary things. He was a classy person and I could feel he was smart, but he humbly accepted so well. So I preached the gospel to him. I told him all about how Jesus was crucified for our sins; about how our sins were forgiven through the blood of Jesus. He heard those words, received salvation so easily, and greatly rejoiced. Then he went home. Afterwards he agreed to come to our church’s outdoor service on Children’s Holiday, May 5th, at the Pine Fields. The water is really good there and about 80 people registered to be baptized. I was counseling the people who were to be baptized one by one before the baptisms, and the man I had spoken to one afternoon was there. I was so happy to see him. He told me all about the life he had lived. He was the president of a company. The company did very well. Therefore all the employees followed his words and whatever he said were the laws of the company. So he said that he became very high-hearted. A person could only know that he was high-hearted when it is time to be humbled; otherwise he cannot know. But the company began to decline. The company was conned, went through difficulties . . . . Ultimately, the company became bankrupt. In Korea, the president of the company ends up with piles of debt. He, too, lost all of his own wealth. In the end, he had a piece of land worth about $300,000 and it was under his wife’s name. He discussed about this land with his wife because he was afraid that the creditors would ultimately come after it. “Honey, there is no way for us to live without that land. Let’s just get a divorce on paper.” The wife agreed to do this, they signed the divorce papers, and finalized their “on-paper” divorce. Once their divorce was finalized, the wife quietly called him over, saying that she needed to tell him something. “I don’t know what you think, but actually I had made up my mind for a long time to divorce you. Now that we are legally divorced, consider us truly divorced.” He was so shocked. He had no heart whatsoever to lose his wife but that was his wife’s disposition. Soon after, his wife sold that land and moved to the United States. He felt so empty. Then he looked back and came to know that he had lived like a fool. “I had lived like a fool! I had no idea about my wife’s heart, and it was so foolish for me to get this divorce . . . .” He lost the sedan he used to drive, he lost his driver, his office, and he felt so pitiful as he saw his image of having to take the subway. He cried and cried and cried. He then, for the first time, discovered his own image. “I, at one point in my life, did well, but that was not because of me. If I had succeeded because I had done well, then I should be able to take care of my problems now. But I have no power whatsoever to take care of this!” He saw how foolish he was to believe that he was smart, and that he could do well. He thought the many employees of his company would simply listen to his words, admire him, and follow him. But once the company became bankrupt no one remained at his side. The people he helped, the people he treated well, did not even look at him. This was not too disheartening but when his wife completely unexpectedly left him . . . . When he used to make good money and live a luxurious life, his wife was so good to him. But now that he is bankrupt and has nothing, she took the remaining wealth and ran away. Nothing was actually his but he lived believing that everything was his. Even his wife was not his, but he believed she was his wife. He deeply realized his foolishness. He precisely came to realize that he was the fool, that he was blind. Therefore, he lost the heart to believe in himself, and accepted the gospel exactly as it is when he heard it.

Amazing Change

He once came to the front to give a testimony during service. It was a tear-jerking testimony. He lost his business, all his wealth, all people ignored him, his children left him, and finally, his wife left him. He now had discovered what a foolish, useless person he was; what an evil and pitiful person he was. He then simply accepted the words of Jesus. If he had believed that he was great and smart, he would have only accepted the words of Jesus that fit his heart, even though they were the words of Jesus. He would have refused the parts that did not fit his heart, but he was not this way at all. Now an amazing change happened to him as Jesus entered him. The pitiful and insecure heart, the sense of betrayal, the bitterness . . . all of these things left him. After Sunday service, he ran to me saying hello, wanting to shake my hand. I wanted to ask him, “Where did you spend the night last night? Were you able to have breakfast?” but I did not because I’m afraid he might feel embarrassed. He looked like he had so much on his face. His face told it all. He was so happy. Not long ago his heart had been filled with rage, a sense of betrayal, and bitterness. When his company went bankrupt, he held grudges against the lazy workers who caused his company to become bankrupt. He felt saddened by the flocks of people gathering to possess his wealth just before he became bankrupt. Finally, he felt betrayed by the people who acted like they were on his side as they left him. When he was unstable and even when his wife threw him away and left him, he was outraged, thinking, “How could this happen?” Thus he was filled with the heart, “I am going to succeed and have my vengeance! I will succeed even if I die, and have my vengeance!” But one day he saw his image and realized how filthy, dirty, and evil he was. He became freed from himself and Jesus entered him. Amazingly, after Jesus entered him, the rage, hatred, and bitterness all left him. This was what he said: “Thank you. How could I have been saved had God not given me such difficulties? I would have been so proud thinking I was great had God not given me these hardships. I am a person so fit to live that way and go to hell.” Now there is no rage or grief in this brother. When I see his face, I think, “When people say that some people are angels, they are talking about people like him!”

He had always had himself as the Master due to his own greatness. But as the kingdom of his heart crumbled down, the world turned its back on him and his wife left him. He realized that he had lost everything and how foolishly and uselessly he had lived. After he had emptied himself this way, Jesus entered his heart as the Master.

To Our Heart Which Became the Temple

Everyone, if Jesus enters into us and becomes the Master, He cannot coexist with our lustful thoughts. Since lust and Jesus are enemies, one or the other must leave. Isn’t that so? Jesus and hatred can never be together. Hatred, fear, evilness; such things cannot stay together with Jesus. The temple of Jerusalem was defiled because it was filled with the people who sold oxen, sheep, and doves. Other people may tolerate this and pass it by, but Jesus could never tolerate this. Others may think, “What can we do? We have to sell oxen to give offerings,” but Jesus could never allow this. Jesus could not simply pass by as He sees the oxen, sheep, and doves pooping and urinating in the temple. This is not only true with oxen, sheep, and doves but also with the darkness inside of you. Darkness can remain in the heart of a person without Jesus, but if Jesus remains in one’s heart, the darkness cannot remain there. The temple 2000 years ago was a temple, but our heart is also the temple in which Jesus dwells. Therefore, just as the Lord could not allow oxen, sheep, and doves to remain in the temple, He cannot allow people whose hearts have become temples to have darkness in their heart. You may simply be lustful and enjoy it, but Jesus cannot allow it. You may allow hatred, despair, or sorrow but Jesus can never allow such things. Therefore, the determination in your spiritual life to, “I am going to live properly. I am not going to steal. I will not do drugs. I will not drink,” cannot cast such things out. But as I spoke earlier about that man, if you realize that you are ruined and if Jesus comes as the Lord into your heart, Jesus cannot allow darkness, lust, nor deceit in your heart and hence, such things cannot remain. You, without yourself even knowing it, become changed and renewed.

The Sins Automatically Left

When we did not know the world of spiritual life very well, we tried to fix ourselves when we sinned, lived riotously, and lived promiscuously. “I should not drink. I should not smoke. I should not commit crimes.” I once saw a doctor named Hongjun Jeon on television saying this. “The body of a person is the screen of his heart. When we watch a movie, we do not watch the film but what shows up on the screen. What shows on the film shows on the screen. This is also true with man. If you have pain in your heart, the pain shows in your facial expression, shows in your stomach and intestines. When you have joy, the joy shows in your facial expression and words. When a person is sick, he only tries to have the sickness healed. When fixing the film, what shows on the screen will be automatically fixed. Likewise, if you first heal the heart, the body will automatically be healed. But it is difficult because people do not try to fix the film but the screen.” When Jesus enters our heart, Jesus easily casts out darkness, fear, and sin. Before I received salvation, I lived in the countryside and went to church early every morning to repent and confess my sins. I barely ever missed the early morning prayer service. In the evenings, there was a home I would go to with my friends to hang out and enjoy ourselves. When I would go there, my friends would be playing poker, drinking, smoking, gossiping about other people . . . . We would also go to people’s fields to steal their sweet potatoes and eat them, steal peanuts and eat them, steal dried persimmons and eat them . . . . We did such bad things. There was nothing else to do in the countryside so we got together every night and did this. I spent my nights this way and I hated myself so much when it became early morning and it was time for me to go to church and pray. “How did I become this kind of a person? I should not go there anymore!” I made up my mind time and time again, but the strange thing was that each evening, I would find myself sitting there again. Then I received salvation. One day I realized that I was no longer there. I was at home reading the Bible. It was difficult to not go there while I still liked it. But after the master of my heart was changed to Jesus, and since Jesus hates those things, I did not try to not go there but I was already not going there. Much time passed this way and my friends would see me and ask, “Hey, Ock Soo, where were you?” I lived in the same village but did not show up in the evenings. They thought I had gone some place far away. At the time I did not know, but as time passed and I looked closely at the past, it was so clear that I had not changed through myself but through the Lord. Before I received salvation, I attended the Presbyterian Church and recited the Ten Commandments each service. “Thou shalt have no other gods before me. You shall not make idols unto yourselves. Thou shalt not take the Lord God’s name in vain . . . .” I recited and memorized them all but I still broke them all. But after Jesus entered my heart, all those sins left me without me even knowing it. Neither did I try to throw them away nor labor to not sin, but one by one, they left me. It was so amazing and wonderful, and I am so thankful.

If Jesus Is in Our Heart

Spiritual life is not done through you. You cannot rid your heart of sadness, you cannot overcome fear in your heart, and you cannot rid your heart of pain. Even though the temple of Jerusalem was defiled and dirtied it could not cast out the oxen, sheep, and doves. But when Jesus came, automatically they were cast out. In this way, if the lord in your heart changes from yourself to Jesus, He casts out all the sadness and despair from your heart. The woman taken in adultery was caught and was being dragged to death. Her heart was filled with fear, sadness, and pain. But when she met Jesus, the fear departed, the sadness departed, the pain departed, and only thankfulness remained. If the loving Lord is in our heart, He cleanses our heart, purifies our thoughts, and leads our life to be beautiful. That is spiritual life. Spiritual life is not done through our efforts to become clean. The story of the temple of Jerusalem in John chapter 2 is talking about the temple of our heart today. It is telling us that if Jesus enters in, the dirty things of our heart depart.

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