Hours after arriving in South Korea, the Rev. Neal Presa donned his pastoral robe and preached at Hong Kwang Presbyterian Church here. [Hear the choir sing Crown Him with Many Crowns.]

Presa, moderator of the 220th General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), is part of a PC(USA) delegation visiting the Presbyterian Church of Korea as it celebrates its 100th anniversary and holds its General Assembly.

Preaching on John 2, in which Jesus destroys a marketplace at the temple in Jerusalem, Presa compared the present-day church to the temple. Both are fortified by thoughts and teachings, he said.

“Jesus’ words are like battering rams that break the walls of our own wisdom, and we don’t know what to do with it,” Presa said.

Presa told a story about the U.S.S. Indianapolis, which was sunk by Japanese torpedoes in 1945. Hundreds of sailors waited for rescue for five days, suffering from thirst while floating in the sea. Many drank the saltwater, leading to mass hallucinations.

Sometimes we also drink dangerous water, leading to hallucinations, Presa said. 

“But then, here comes Jesus.”

Jesus breaks up the status quo — this is not merely about our survival but about living into the reality of God’s provision and salvation, Presa said.

The pilgrims who traveled to Jerusalem needed a clean animal to sacrifice, and the marketplace in the temple made this purchase easy. By shopping at the temple, pilgrims were supporting the systems of the day, which excluded those on the margins.

“It was foolish zeal for the wrong thing,” Presa said, noting that Jesus quotes Psalm 69:9 — “Zeal for your house will consume me.”

“Jesus cares for the people,” he said. “His zeal is for you. His zeal is for us. His zeal is for the have-nots as well as the haves.”

We all crave Jesus’ resurrection, but do we have the zeal that consumes us? “Do we get it?” Presa asked.

Every time we disregard another, it’s as if we don’t have that zeal. It’s as if we disregard what Jesus has given us. We boast that the Lord has risen but live as if He hasn’t, Presa said.

“We need to remember God’s grace,” he said. “We need to remember God’s salvation for us.”