Thursday, May 21, 2020
You have probably never heard of Daniel Norris. He was drafted into Major League Baseball in 2011 by the Toronto Blue jays. A few years later, he was traded to the Detroit Tigers, my boyhood team. On August 19, 2015, the Tigers were playing the Chicago Cubs. Because the National League Cubs were the home team, the American League Tigers had to abide by the National League rules. There would be no designated hitter for the pitcher. Norris would pick up a bat and face the opposing pitcher for the first time in his career.
For the first time ever at storied Wrigley Field in Chicago, and American League pitcher would hit a home run during a regular season game. What a moment that must have been for him. First time batting in the Major Leagues and he hits a home run. By the way, in case you think that’s rare, a homerun has been hit by a player in their first at-bat 118 times since 1895.
After John tells us the story of the first miracle of Jesus, which declared His glory to the world, John tells us about the first mission of Jesus. After taking a couple of days rest with his disciples, probably to let things settle down a little bit after His miracle, Jesus heads to Jerusalem for the Passover. His first stop is the Temple – God’s house of worship.
What would Jesus do in His first public appearance after revealing the glory of God? In my opinion, He hit a home run. In John’s narrative of the life of Christ, the mission of Jesus is revealed more than in any other Gospel. His mission was to set us free from the bondage and corruption of sin, and to provide life and light for us through faith alone. Jesus began that mission in the one place where the corruption of sin is the most horrific – the religious establishment of the day.
John 2:14-16 In the temple he found those who were selling oxen and sheep and pigeons, and the money-changers sitting there. And making a whip of cords, he drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and oxen. And he poured out the coins of the money-changers and overturned their tables. And he told those who sold the pigeons, “Take these things away; do not make my Father’s house a house of trade.”
The first miracle of Jesus was to fill empty religious ritual with heavenly power and blessing. The first message of Jesus declares His mission to restore true worship to the church, and true worship is not found in ritual but in relationship.
When the disciples see what Jesus does, things begin to click for them. An Old Testament Scripture comes to their mind from Psalm 69:9 – “For zeal for your house has consumed me…” Suddenly the disciples are connecting their understanding of Scripture to the Living Word of God. And in that first connection, they see the passion of Jesus for the purity of His people and His church.
When someone hits a home run in baseball, it is said that they touched all the bases. Jesus certainly touched all the bases. Religious ritual is empty and unfulfilling. Religious ritual leads to corruption. Jesus has come to restore right relationship with God through faith alone.
What does Jesus need to drive out of our lives so we can truly worship Him? Do you have any bases Jesus is not allowed to touch?