Jesus answered them, ‘Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days.’
Foolish to the nations, that’s what Paul wrote (1 Corinthians 1:18-25). And isn’t it so true. How many think that faithful Christians are fools? Does our society think that Jesus is important, that His church is a vital part of our lives; Or maybe something to be kept hidden in private, like the proverbial crazy uncle. My best friend from school still thinks I’m a fool, for giving up a career in chemistry to become a minister of the Means of Grace. And I’m sure there are people in your lives, that think you too are a fool for the Faith.
I mean look at our Lord, by Himself He starts tossing tables and driving out animals from the most important centre in the Jewish nation and society. Sure, the temple is supposed to be a house of prayer, not a house of commerce (Mark 11:17); yet one person to overturn the way society is going. What kind of a fool would do that?
And Jesus tells the people, destroy this temple and I will raise it in three days. A temple that took 46 years for a nation to build, and this fool will raise it in three days? What kind of a fool would follow this madman who died 2000 years ago?
As Paul said, foolishness to the gentiles; yet to those being saved it is the power of God. The power of the Uncreated Creator, who spoke the Word and it was done, He saw and it was good (Genesis 1). The power of the God of Israel defeating all the gods of Egypt and promising His presence in the tabernacle, that copy of the Heavenly Temple (Exodus 40:34-38). Who promised to come Himself and save not just the Israelites, but all the world (Isaiah 56:4-8, Ezekiel 34:11-23). Who came as a human, in a tabernacle of flesh (John 1:14). Yes, they do not understand that the God whose temple they are in, had told them Jesus is the new Temple. They did not understand until His Word is fulfilled. Because they did destroy the Temple, the promised place of God’s presence, when He was crucified; and He did raise the Temple three days later, at the Resurrection Sunday morning.
And now you are baptised, joined into His Body, the Church, you are part of this Resurrected Temple (1 Peter 2:4-5). Jesus may look a fool to the world, yet He holds the truth of this world (John 14:6). As He threw those tables into the air, the money to the dirt, He was not just preaching to the Jews, against their focus on money and wealth, against their pride and selfish power, against this abuse of God’s Holy Place. He is also teaching us as temples of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19). Those cleansing waters of Baptism is Jesus coming into us and throwing out our sin and failures. The cleansing of the temple is the healing of our hearts and minds, Absolution, Baptism, Holy Communion. The question is not, are you letting Christ drive out the sin in your life; He’s already done that according to His promise (John 20:23). Rather the question is; are you picking back up the money and bringing back the animals into the temple? After Christ has forgiven you are you turning from His life of prayer back to focus on wealth and our animalistic/physical desires, back to the way of life our society thinks is wise, self-sufficiency and pleasure?
Just as Christ cleansed the temple at the beginning of His ministry and in the days before His death, He cleanses us more than once. In this Lenten time of preparation come and hear Christ’s cleansing Words, Forgiveness and Life (Matthew 26:28; John 6:68). Think about what He tells you, meditate on His Word, pray for the wisdom of God and the strength you need, and serve as He did, in love and with concern for all those around Him.
And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus, now unto eternity. Amen.
Pastor Joseph Graham.