Your House, Not Mine
Matthew 23:37-39 (37) O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not! (38) Behold, your house is left unto you desolate. (39) For I say unto you, Ye shall not see me henceforth, till ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord. In His final entrance to Jerusalem for His culminating trek to the cross, Jesus was fulfilling numerous O.T. prophecies, a number of them from the Psalms. Psalm 118 figured prominently (MAT 21:9 c/w PSA 118:26; MAT 21:42 c/w PSA 118:22-23), and in our text (MAT 23:39 c/w PSA 118:26). Jesus knew that His destiny must take Him to Jerusalem where the great Sanhedrin council passed judgment, “...for it cannot be that a prophet perish out of Jerusalem” (LUK 13:33). That council's solemn responsibility was too often its notoriety. Whereas they had a duty to judge whether a prophet was a false prophet and so be put under sentence of death as was commanded in DEU 13:1-11, they tended to use that power against the true prophets whom God sent to reprove them (MAT 23:29-35; MAT 21:33-39). Conversely, Jerusalem had also a notoriety for receiving and blessing the false prophets who tickled their ears with false prophecies that catered to their pride and lusts (JER 23:14; MIC 2:11; ISA 30:9-11), “...and my people love to have it so...” (JER 5:31). A Jesus who came in his own name they would receive but not the One Who came in His Father's name (JOH 5:43). A carnal Jesus would have been well received but the God-sent, truth-oriented Jesus Who knew and exposed their sins must be judged a false prophet. Nothing has changed since then. A powerless Jesus in a manger is popular. A powerless Jesus hanging on a stick is popular. A powerless Jesus who tells people how good they are, how sin is not that big of a deal, how ceremonies, holidays and feasts are the sum of all true religion, or how he will make them wealthy---he is popular. But the mighty, righteous Jesus of the Bible Who commands repentance from sin and commands faithful obedience is not popular, nor is the preacher who declares Him: “...If they have called the master of the house Beelzebub, how much more shall they call them of his household?” (MAT 10:25). Our text is the close of Jesus' teaching in the temple which began in MAT 21:23. When He had just previously entered the temple (MAT 21:12-16), He found it as overrun with corruption as it had been when He rebuked it at the beginning of His public life (JOH 2:13-17). He still, though, referred to it then as His Father's house (MAT 21:13). But by the time of our text today, He referred to it as “...YOUR house...” (MAT 23:38-39), “And Jesus went out, and departed from the temple...” (MAT 24:1). Years before, the Jews had referred to the temple as “...our beautiful house...” (ISA 64:11), and Jesus here gave them title to their claim. It by now was abandoned property, “...left unto you desolate” (MAT 23:38), that is, “left alone, without companion, solitary, lonely” (per Oxford English Dictionary). The reality of God's departure would soon be manifest. When Jesus died on the cross, “...the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom...” (MAT 27:50-51). That precious veil had long hid from view the holiest place in the temple where God was said to dwell (HEB 9:1-6 c/w EXO 25:21-22), a place which none but their high priest was ever to see (HEB 9:7). But now it was nothing more than a common closet: God had departed. The evidence here implies that the last time that God was in that temple was when Jesus Christ, God manifest in the flesh (1TI 3:16), preached in it and then exited. They should have just stenciled “Ichabod” on the door in the spirit of 1SAM 4:21-22 since “...The glory is departed from Israel...” Similarly, Jesus in His parable spoke of the once precious city of Jerusalem, the city of God (PSA 48:1-2) as abandoned to be nothing more than “...THEIR city...” (MAT 22:7). Jesus' concluding word to those unbelievers is significant: “...Ye shall not see me henceforth, till ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord” (MAT 23:39). As already noted, this statement is from PSA 118:26, but it is only the first part of that verse. Consider the rest of it: (PSA 118:26) Blessed be he that cometh in the name of the LORD: we have blessed you out of the house of the LORD. Since this temple He was departing from which would shortly be turned into rubble (MAT 24:1-2) must be the “...your house...left unto you desolate...” (MAT 23:38-39), this all implies that any future recognition of them by Christ would occur only through conversion where their hearts would turn to the Lord and their blindness taken away: (2CO 3:14) But their minds were blinded: for until this day remaineth the same vail untaken away in the reading of the old testament; which vail is done away in Christ. (2CO 3:15) But even unto this day, when Moses is read, the vail is upon their heart. (2CO 3:16) Nevertheless when it shall turn to the Lord, the vail shall be taken away. That conversion would of necessity involve their repentance and admission that Jesus is indeed the Christ they crucified, to Whom they should be joined in baptism as part of a better house of God: the N.T. church (1TI 3:15). Many in Israel did this after the resurrection of Christ and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, as well-noted in the Book of Acts. Thus, the Christian Jews did indeed say, “Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the LORD: we have blessed you out of the house of the LORD” (PSA 118:26). Unlike that Jewish temple, the N.T. house of God (the gospel church) would not be abandoned by God: “...lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen” (MAT 28:20) nor would it be destroyed: “...I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (MAT 16:18). Genuinely baptized believers have ever since blessed God and Christ out of that house and shall do so in its perfected state forever: (EPH 3:21) Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.