THE KING’S BUSINESS
Evidently the Jews in their hearts realized that by cleansing the temple, our Lord Jesus was putting forward a claim to be the fulfiller of Malachi, 3:1-3, and consequently, the Messiah. Therefore they demanded some visible evidence, some outward sign, in a miracle performed, that His claim was warranted. The Jews were con stantly seeking after signs, i. e. mi raculous proofs (1 Cor. 1:22; John 6;30; Matt. 12:38-40). This is the first instance of the demand. To a heart that is open to the truth, no out ward signs are demanded: the truth is its own best justification (ch. 20:29; 4:42), and such an action as this of Jesus on this occasion, manifestly just, is its own justification. The craving for visible proofs of Divine authority such- as appears here, and such as is seen today in a certain part of the Church running after healers and wonder-workers of one kind and another, is the sign of a blind and wicked heart (Matt. 12:39). Our Lord’s act itself, in which He re vealed Himself as the representative of God, should have called out faith without any endorsement from an ex ternal proof in a wonder worked, and it did call out faith on the part of the disciples. The Jews would have done better to have inquired about their sins which He had so sternly rebuked by His action than to inquire about a sign. But the asking for a sign was really an attempt to cover up their sin and to quiet a convicted conscience. Vs. 19-21. “Jesus answered and said unto them, Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up. Then (rather, so, or, therefore ) said the Jews, Forty and six years was this temple in building, and wilt thou rear (rather, raise ) it up in three days? But he spake of the temple of his body.” The Jews had asked for a sign; our
compromising love for the glory of His Father and the purity of His wor ship. It would be well if we were all more like Him, in this day of cold indifference and compromise and commercialism in the things of God. V. 18. “Then (rather, so, or, there fore) answered the Jews and said unto him, What sign showest thou unto us, seeing that thou dost these things?” We see here a striking contrast be tween the faith of the disciples, who saw in our Lord’s action an unmis takable fulfilment of prophecy, and the unbelieving attitude of the Jews, who were offended at the action of Jesus. All through John’s Gospel we see the double effect of our Lord’s work, producing faith on the part of those who were of the truth and awakening opposition on the part of those who were not of the truth. The whole Gospel presents us a picture of the development of faith on the one hand and of unbelief on the other; so it was inevitable that on the occasion of this first public act of our Lord this double effect should be em phasized. There are always those who, when any one does something which it is right should be done, instead of approving the act want to know by what authority he does it. They do not dare to directly question the pro priety of the act, and therefore seek to justify their opposition by a denial of the authority to do the act on the part pf the one who has performed it. There are always those who make such an idol of ecclesiastical authority that they lose all power to recognize an act that is manifestly Divine when they see it; or to listen to the word which is manifestly Divine when they hear it; unless the act is performed, or the word spoken, under the aus pices of the special branch of eccles iastical authority which they recog nize.
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