Photo of model of Jerusalem Temple in the time of Jesus: By Berthold Werner – Own work, Public Domain
Bible Readings and Devotion for April 6, 2020
Here are the references for the readings. Please look these up in your print Bible, your smartphone app Bible, or your online Bible:
Devotion for April 6, 2020
By Pastor David Tinker
In today’s reading from Psalm 87 we hear about the delight of the Lord for Zion. This is Jerusalem. In this, the psalmist is also delighting personally in the Holy City. Jerusalem was the hub, the centerpiece, the prime location, for life, government, identity, and faith for the people of Israel, and eventually the Jews. During the time of the Kings of Israel and Judah the Temple was in the city. When it was rebuilt after the exile in Babylon (500s BC), and up to the time of Jesus (~AD 30), there was a temple in the city. It was destroyed by the Romans in AD 70.
The Temple was the main place of worship for the Israelites and Jews. It was the place where the LORD dwelt among the people. It was the place where the appointed sacrifices for the people were made. The priests of the Temple helped the people make connection with the LORD their God. The priests, Levites, and the people observed the Law in their actions at the Temple. The people delighted in their life with God at the Temple.
All of these things change when Jesus does his greatest work for us on the cross. When Jesus suffers and dies for us, he replaces the three things of the Temple. He also gives us a new perspective on the Old Testament Law. Let’s look at these four points:
1) Jesus becomes the once and for all sacrifice. Hebrews 10:1-13
2) Jesus lives his role as the Great High Priest. Hebrews 4:14-16
3) Jesus becomes the Temple, the place where God and humanity meet.
We read in John 1:51, which reads, “51 And (Jesus) said to him, “Very truly, I tell you, you will see heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man.”” This passage is about the connection between the Temple and the “stairway to heaven” as noted in Genesis 28:10-12 where we read, “10 Jacob left Beer-sheba and went toward Haran. 11 He came to a certain place and stayed there for the night, because the sun had set. Taking one of the stones of the place, he put it under his head and lay down in that place. 12 And he dreamed that there was a ladder set up on the earth, the top of it reaching to heaven; and the angels of God were ascending and descending on it.” There was a tradition noting that the stone Jacob used as a pillow eventually became part of the foundation of the Temple in Jerusalem. The place where the “angels of God were ascending and descending” was now the Temple. When Jesus says that he, the Son of Man, is where we see the “angels of God ascending and descending,” he is saying that he is the new Temple. Jesus replaces the Temple. Jesus becomes the place where, and person in whom, God and humanity interact.
4) The work of Jesus Christ also deals with the Old Testament Law.
The Old Testament Law, in itself, had been a temporary measure until the gift of faith in Jesus could be brought to the world. St. Paul writes about this in Galatians 3:24-26; “24 Therefore the law was our disciplinarian until Christ came, so that we might be justified by faith. 25 But now that faith has come, we are no longer subject to a disciplinarian, 26 for in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith.” The “disciplinarian” as noted in this passage is a sort of nanny or guardian escort for a child. It is as if the Law were a not quite as good as the parent itself. The gift of faith in Jesus is what God wanted for his people all along. It was at the fullness of time that Jesus Christ, God the Son, was sent into the world for us. We now have him, and we deal with the law through our relationship with Jesus. We focus on what he has done, what he teaches, and his commandments: love God, love neighbor, love one another, tell others about Jesus.
With all this we get to delight in the new Zion. For those who have faith in Jesus, Zion in our relationship with God in Christ. Zion is where we worship God in “Spirit and in truth,” as Jesus teaches us in John 4:23-24, which reads, “(Jesus said, “23 But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father seeks such as these to worship him. 24 God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.””
Here we are reminded that, by God’s abundant mercy and grace, we get to connect with God through our relationship with Jesus Christ. This is brought to us and expressed through many means. Our relationship with Jesus is received and lived out through: God’s Word, the Holy Spirit, contemplation of Jesus’ suffering and death on the cross, Holy Baptism, Holy Communion, prayer, devotion and learning, our worship gatherings, service to others, fellowship with Christians, etc. Each of these connects us to Jesus. Jesus is our connection with God. Therefore, we delight in Jesus Christ – the one who was crucified and died for us, and who was raised from the dead – for Jesus is our Zion, our place where God meets us.
Almighty God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit: we give you thanks for seeking us out and giving us a connection with you in Jesus. Help us during this Holy Week to contemplate the beautiful truth that Jesus has died for us for the forgiveness of our sin. We pray this in Jesus’ holy name. Amen.