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Jesus IS the Temple
by Elaine Pierce
Much of John's gospel revolves around the Passover Festival, which was an important time in Jesus' day, as it is for Jews today. Jews came to Jerusalem from far away to observe Passover, which required sacrificing a lamb. Rather than bring the animal with them on a long journey, many Jews bought an animal at the temple. This practice led to overcharging poor people from the countryside, and the temple courts had become a place for business deals rather than a place of worship. This context helps us understand Jesus' anger, and his disciples are reminded of Psalm 69:9, where David says "zeal for your house will consume me."
When the crowd confront Jesus about his actions, they ask for a miracle: "What miraculous sign can you show us to prove your authority to do all this? (v. 18). His reply, "Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days," makes no sense to them. After all, it took skilled builders 46 years to build their temple! What on earth can he be thinking?
What they don't understand is that Jesus is not referring to a building. The temple for the Jews was the center of worship. The ark of the covenant was there, and that was where God resided. What they didn't fully grasp was that Jesus was telling them that HE was the temple. HE would become the place to meet God, as he and the Father are one. HE would be the sacrifice for their sins. And that we, God's children, would, through the Holy Spirit, become a temple. Paul says this in I Corinthians 6:19:
Do you not know that your body is a temple of the holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price.
These were bold, life-changing actions and words. God is not confined to a building. Jesus came so that all who put their faith in him would receive eternal life. The New Covenant is here in the person of Jesus. Yes, he hates sin, and we need to come to the throne of grace with contrite hearts. But he has provided a way out, through his son. Thank God today for this incredible gift.
Lord, I so often am afraid to fully trust you. Help me this day, this moment, to stop and thank you for the gift of eternal life. Help me to fall at your feet and worship you fully, in spirit and in truth. Amen.