The Passover of the Jews was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. 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.” His disciples remembered that it was written, “Zeal for your house will consume me.”
So the Jews said to him, “What sign do you show us for doing these things?” Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” The Jews then said, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and will you raise it up in three days?” But he was speaking about the temple of his body. When therefore he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this, and they believed the Scripture and the word that Jesus had spoken. (John 2:13-22)
Say “temple” to a devout Jew and they would have thought “house of the LORD” (1 Kings 6:37). This was the place, of all geographical locations in the world, that God had promised to “dwell among the children of Israel” (1 Kings 6:13). Established in the days of Solomon, this was the mount on which the congregation of Israel could “assemble before” Yahweh and present their sacrifices.
But the temple built by Solomon had been destroyed by the Babylonians (2 Chron 36:17-19). The temple built by Zerubbabel paled in comparison (Ezra 3:12). Even the temple commissioned by Herod in the days of Jesus–more than forty-six years in the making–would eventually be razed by the Romans (Matt 24:1-2).
What then are the people of God to do?
“The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything.” (Acts 17:24-25)
“Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up,” Jesus promised. And he delivered. He left behind an empty tomb. He is the first and the last, and the living one. He died, and behold he is alive forevermore, and he has the keys of Death and Hades (Rev 1:17-18). Even this very morning, he serves as the one mediator between God and men (1 Tim 2:5). Jesus died to become the place where we meet God.
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