Friday, 6 February 2015

The Father Hasn't Walked Out On Us

devotional studies on God the Father from John's gospel.

Scripture

This morning's full text can be found here.
And he told those who sold pigeons, 'take these things away; do not make my Father's house a house of trade.' 
-- John 2:16
Observation

It's clear from the story that there must have been some under-handed activity taking place in the temple. Jesus would not have been angry simply at the presence of trade in the temple since it was something permitted for pilgrim worshippers in Moses. There must have been something else going on for him to get so angry.

It can only be for a couple of reasons. Either there was a lot of dishonest practise taking place, or (and this is perhaps more likely from the actual words themselves) the trade had grown and taken priority over the worship. The trade had become primary and worship and prayer, secondary. What was at first a permitted necessity (to ensure that travellers to the temple wouldn't have to transport their animals for sacrifice from miles around) had become the main focus. The outer courts had become the equivalent to a shopping mall. Buy your animals for sacrifice yes, but buy also a new outfit for the party or snap-up this great deal on this and that.

I can well imagine that whereas before people would have gone to the temple only for temple things, now people would go to shop and run errands. Worship & prayer was just one of the many things a person could do at temple.

All of which is useful background as we home in on the Father mentioned here:

So what can we learn about the Father from these verses?
  • The Father had a house.
  • The Father could be approached by sinful men and women.
  • The Father could be known by sinful men and women. 
Application

This impacts me in a couple of ways:

Firstly I can see that God the Father has always sought a way to live with us in much more than simply a general omnipresent way. As the light of the sun is both everywhere and yet has a specific source so it is with God. The Father is both everywhere and yet also somewhere specific. He has always wanted for that 'somewhere specific' to be among us, his creation. In the Garden of Eden God walked with Adam and after the Fall God laid out plans to make it possible to still live among us despite our sin. This is how the Father behaves.

Secondly although there are great things to be said about him and great things to be known about him, the more startling reality is that we can know him and experience him personally - everyone can.

The Father is a father who is near and locatable. He hasn't left us. That needs to be said again:
He hasn't left us.
If that was true of him then, how much more is it true now that Christ has come? Jesus has shown us more clearly what the Father is like. In fact we can take it further than that; he has sent his Spirit into us so that we are now individually and corporately as the church the temple of God. We are the dwelling place of God. The Father has taken up residence by his Spirit in each one of his followers.

The Father hasn't left us, he is in you by his Spirit.

Prayer

Thank you Father. Thank you that you are near to me, thank you that you have made yourself known to us and made yourself available to us. Thank you that by your Spirit you live with me today. Please fill me with your Spirit an help me to do all that you have for me today. I need you, I want you and I'm amazed that you would make yourself so near to me. Amen.


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