They say that Disney World is “the happiest place on earth.” I think there is some truth to that. Our family enjoyed loads of fun, from log rides on splash mountain to meals with princesses and show characters, there were many memories made. Even further impressions were made with giant fresh-baked cookie ice cream sandwiches, world-class buffet diners, and extra mile customer service. In all, the magical kingdom is a faint glimpse of the greater kingdom of God. Here are a few observations that may relate the two kingdoms.
– At Disney, Mickey is king. The mouse ears are everywhere. The logo is embed in sidewalks, in architecture details, landscape, signage, even in food plating, and any other place you can imagine. It’s like Mickey is omnipresent. Mickey and the talk of Disney greets each person from the airplane landing to the Orlando airport. The castle in the Magic Kingdom is central to all the parks with fireworks every day & night heard at each of the parks. When the castle has an activity show, everything and everyone around gives full attention. There is no mistaking who is king at Disney.
– At Disney, all nations are welcome. In spite of Florida being known for its retirement destination, the Disney parks are filled with people from all over the world. Walking the theme park streets will confront you with a variety of languages and people, both staff and attendees who represent the diversity of people across our nation and all nations. Epcot is the noted park that provides the experience of traveling the world through the various countries and what they have to offer in food, culture, architecture, and practice.
– At Disney, all are equal royalty. Disney’s customer service seeks to go the extra mile from start to finish. You can check in your bags at your local airport and not see them again until you walk into your resort or hotel room. We had multiple conversations with Disney staff members that went beyond customer relations to personal engagement. Staff greeted my wife and daughters as “princesses” or “my lady” wherever we went. I was greeted as a prince or “my lord”. In fact, every time I scanned my identification band it showed my birthday and I was greeted with recognition of my celebration. We received all the benefits and blessings afforded to us by King Mickey.
Disney staff are not just employees but are cast members and tour guides. Staff who were dressed in shirt and tie had broom and dust pan in hand equally as any other representative.
– At Disney, life is temporary. Throughout the resorts and parks are staff who seek to help you plan your next return vacation. While the fun and food supersede joyous expectation, Disney is just a vacation and not a homeland. Disney is not a permanent destination because no one can live at there forever. While the architecture and aesthetics of Disney offer much to marvel, up close looks reveal a bit of façade. The castle doors are not hard wood but vinyl. Streets and buildings require paint and maintenance. Performance characters require background stories for why they are absent or need a break from the crowds. Rides have long lines and at times malfunction. Disney and Mickey are only symbolic of perfection and forever pleasure and happiness. Even more, life at Disney is unsustainable. You can purchase a 16oz cup for $18 that can be used for beverage refills for the duration of your stay. After that or beyond purchases are extravagant. Bottled water costs $4, snack and restaurant prices are costly, and all the Disney paraphernalia will almost require you to take out a second mortgage.
Jesus’ kingdom is far greater. Heaven is an eternal home with radiant glory of pure gold and unequaled rare jewels, without any tarnish (Rev 21:9-27). The kingdom of God can never be interrupted and is eternal (Heb 12:28). Jesus is our ever present king who will walk among us, with Him as our God and us as His sons and daughters. In His presence is fullness of joy, and we will never go empty (Ps 16:11). In Him is life and He is the light of all humanity (John 1:4). His kingdom will be made up of every tribe, language, people, and nation from every generation, with us as His royal children reigning with Him (Rev 5:9-10). God’s kingdom is available free of charge, with Jesus bearing the full price of entrance (Rev 1:18; 22:17).
Today, we examine John 2 with a look to understand just like Mickey’s Magical Kingdom points to something greater, so does the Jewish temple.
EXAMINE John 2:12-27; 3:1-20 Healing Religion
Jesus honors attendance with the worship community at the temple (John 2:12-13)
Following Jesus’ sign miracle of changing water to wine, He traveled with family and disciples to Caparnaum, which became a home base for many of His teachings and miracles. At some point they make the several day journey to Jerusalem for the Passover Feast. Attendance to the Jerusalem temple during Passover was required (Deut 16:16), and Jesus honors this expectation.
So much of life is routine. We all have daily/weekly priorities of regular activities. The Jews prioritized God each week, with six days of work and the seventh of rest and worship; along with regular feasts and festivals and three times a year, males making pilgrimage to Jerusalem (Ex 34:21-23). Families were commanded to diligently teach the next generation to walk in the way and wisdom of God (Deut 6:6-9). And when the generations failed to pass on faith they suffered greatly (Judges 2:10).
We see in Jesus’ life the routine disciplines of honoring God. He honored God through personal prayer and study of God. He mused on and memorized Scripture that it permeated the vision and values of His life. Further, Jesus obeyed earthly parents and honored the community of believers through worship at the temple (Luke 4; John 2).
è Parents can prioritize God through principle of 7 each month
o 4 – Sundays
o 1 – Love God spiritual growth element
o 1 – Live Jesus to serve others
o 1 – Lead Generations to share faith as you go missionally; each one reach one 2017
Jesus has authority over the worship community at the temple.
Upon entering the temple, Jesus observed individuals exchanging money and selling sacrificial animals. While these actions of themselves were not sinful, the fact that they were doing them in the temple was the wrong. Those who had traveled a great distance could not be expected to have the same currency used in Jerusalem, or much more the appropriate unblemished animal needed for sacrifice. So, the temple staff was performing a necessary and useful service (Ex 30:13-14) for the guests to worship rightly. However, the fact that they were doing this in the temple meant that the worship of God was unfocused and distracted.
Further, the area of the temple this action took place was in the outer courts – the courts of the Gentiles. The Gentiles needed to be evangelized and disciple in the ways of God. However, the fact that the Jews set up shop in Gentile worship space showed how little they cared for those of other nations. D.A. Carson says, “Instead of solemn dignity and the murmur of prayer, there is the bellowing of cattle and the bleating of sheep. Instead of brokenness and contrition, holy adoration and prolonged petition, there is noisy commerce.” God had desired for His name to be glorified among all nations, but Israel was failing to be salt and light.
Isaiah 56:6-7 “And the foreigners who join themselves to the Lord, to minister to him, to love the name of the Lord, and to his servants, everyone who keeps the Sabbath and does not profane it, and holds fast my covenant – these I will bring to my holy mountain and make them joyful in my house of prayer; their burn offerings and their sacrifices will be accepted on my altar; for my house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples.”
Jesus had contempt for the Jewish commercialized and convenience perspective of worship. Jesus was the lamb of God but He wasn’t sheepish. Jesus is outspoken on the impurity of their worship as He makes a whip to drive out the animals and overturns tables. Think about this surprising and striking scene where Jesus is not meek and mild, but maddened and outraged. Jesus’ emotion was not unjust or unrighteous but focused on the glory of God.
“Take these things away; do not make my Father’s house a house of trade.”
“His disciples remembered that it was written: ‘Zeal for your house will consume me.’”
Righteous anger occurs when we are defending the character and commands of God, and often not when we are seeking to defend personal reputation.
Jesus’ statements of authority show Him as the fulfillment of the temple and Jewish religion. Religion that is focused on greed of money, power, and politics is repulsive to God. The Jewish leaders asked Jesus for a sign of His power and ideology, but Jesus pointed to His life mission to die and resurrect. Instead of worshiping at the temple, His life and body becomes the focus of our worship. He offered the full and final sacrifice for sin that we can approach God in confidence (Hebrews 10) and without religious commerce.
è See Jesus rightly as lamb and lion.
Jesus has aim for our worship to center on Christ and to connect outsiders to experiencing the presence of God.
John changes vocabulary language for temple, moving from ieron to naos with the former speaking generally and the latter Jesus’ referencing His body as the inner dwelling of the temple where God’s glory resides. Once again, the emphasis for our worship is to center on Christ.
è As Jesus cleansed the temple and Jewish thinking, what needs cleansing in your life? What does Jesus want to drive away from your life? Where do you need repentance? Revelation 3:15-20 to the church in Laodicea “15 I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish that you were cold or hot. 16 So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I am going to vomit you out of My mouth. 17 Because you say, ‘I’m rich; I have become wealthy, and need nothing,’ and you don’t know that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind, and naked, 18 I advise you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire so that you may be rich, and white clothes so that you may be dressed and your shameful nakedness not be exposed, and ointment to spread on your eyes so that you may see. 19 As many as I love, I rebuke and discipline. So be committed and repent. 20 Listen! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and have dinner with him, and he with Me.”
è As Jesus seeks to renew the temple focus, what needs uncluttered in your life? Where is your worship unfocused and distracted? How will you seek to renew your spiritual life?
è What about our church as a whole – are there areas that need cleansing or uncluttered?
o Cleansing: A pure church
o Uncluttered: A focused mission
- Growing Godly Generations
- Gathered Worship
o Why don’t we have this/that ministry? Hmmm?
- Go. Live sent. Life is a mission trip, take it!
o Zeal – what consumes you? Use that to glorify God.
è Earthly politics will not create eternal pleasure. Christians, let us renew our first love and focus on the mission of God’s kingdom.
o Perhaps God is allowing us to become disenchanted and disillusioned with America so that will result in us being sent away from our earthly citizenship to make new eternal citizens among the nations (cf. Acts 8:1, 4).
o We also need a paradigm shift from “look what the world is coming to!” into declaring “look who and what has come to the world – Jesus!”. Christians, we have good news to zealously proclaim.
John’s Gospel narrows the exchange between Jesus and Temple to be applied personally with the exchange between Jesus and Nicodemus.
– You must be born from above… God gave his only Son as our sacrifice for sin that we should not perish but have eternal life (John 3).
 Pillar Commentary, The Gospel of John, John 2:14.