the Second Sunday of Lent
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Charles Spurgeon's "Morning & Evening"
“Make not my Father’s house an house of merchandise.”
We have seen him there once before as a son in his own house, and here we see him in riper years as a son over his own house, the heir, exercising authority in the Father’s palace.
They were necessary for public convenience that the worshippers might purchase offerings, and might exchange Roman for Jewish money, since that alone could be presented to the priests; but they had no right to transact this business within the house of God.
Now was fulfilled in measure the prophecy of Malachi: “Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me: and the Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple, even the messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in: behold, he shall come, saith the Lord of hosts. But who may abide the day of his coming? and who shall stand when he appeareth? for he is like a refiner’s fire, and like fullers’ sope: and he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness.” With like zeal will he drive out of his church all who seek their own advancement, and turn the worship of God into a means of gain for themselves. This was the first occasion upon which our Lord purged the temple, and he had to repeat the work a second time. Nothing is so hard to cleanse as a place which has once been holy and has become defiled. It does not seem that any one opposed the Lord Jesus; the majesty of his appearance probably held all in check.
John 2:20 , John 2:21
The resurrection is the surest seal of our Lord’s mission, and the fact that he rose by his own power is a clear evidence of his deity. Who but he could say of his own dead body, “I will raise it up”? Since Jesus has risen we ought most heartily to believe on him.
They no doubt before this believed both their Master’s word and the Scriptures, but when they understood them better, in the light of their accomplishment, they were as if they believed anew.
The gospel wins many converts, and some of them in after days do not turn out to be stable; this however we must look for, as Jesus did, for the next verse tells us that he did not trust those who were so eager to profess allegiance; for he understood the fickleness of human hearts, the superficial nature of much which passes for true religion, and the ease with which hasty conversions are turned into sudden and final apostacies. May the Lord cleanse our hearts and keep us to the end.
Saviour, who dost with anger see
The lusts which steal my heart from thee,
The thieves out of thy temple chase,
And cleanse my soul by sovereign grace.
Thy blood hath made me wholly thine,
My body is thy Spirit’s shrine;
And now my God is dwelling there
My soul shall be a house of prayer.
“Ye must be born again.”
Perhaps he came by night because he was busy all the day, or because he would make private inquiries before he committed himself to the new teacher. Jesus did not refuse him a midnight audience, and Nicodemus came to him in courteous and candid spirit.
Thus he tried the faith which the inquiring ruler already had. The doctrine of regeneration has been a test question and a stone of stumbling to many; and always will be so. Jesus tried Nicodemus at the outset with this vital question, for he never suppresses truth to win followers.
Flesh at its best can only produce flesh; and since we must become spiritual in order to enter the spiritual kingdom of Jesus, it is inevitable that we must be born again, or else remain strangers to the things of God. Every man must be born twice or die twice: let this never be forgotten.
John 3:7 , John 3:8
The regenerate man is a mystery, and whence his new nature came, and whither it tends, are both spiritual questions which the carnal mind is unable to answer.
earthly things or things belonging to this world
The higher truths are not opened up to those who are staggered by the simpler doctrines. It would be idle to attempt it.
It is remarkable that the same chapter which so strongly teaches us the need of the new birth is that which most clearly sets forth the gospel of faith in Christ Jesus. Both truths are to be cordially believed. We must be born again, and yet whosoever believeth in Jesus is not condemned.
Let this be well marked. All this family who have not believed are already condemned.
With such simple teaching before us, it will be terrible if any one of us should live and die in unbelief. It becomes us at once to believe in Jesus, for ere long we shall be gone where gospel promises are no longer presented as a ground of hope. Lord, we believe, and by grace we are saved.