The Face of Grace
Pencil sketch by JC Chambers
Part eleven in a study of God's grace from the book of John.
People worship God in many different places. Is it appropriate to claim that one place is better than another?
“Then the Jews demanded of him, ‘What miraculous sign can you show us to prove your authority to do all this?’ Jesus answered them, ‘Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days.’ The Jews replied, ‘It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and you are going to raise it in three days?’ But the temple he had spoken of was his body. After he was raised from the dead, his disciples recalled what he had said. Then they believed the Scripture and the words that Jesus had spoken.” John 2:18-22
In the wake of Jesus’ temple protest, moneychangers were picking up coins and vendors were corralling animals. Those in charge confronted Jesus and demanded an explanation: “What miraculous sign can you show us to prove your authority to do all this?”
It isn’t hard to understand their anger. They had worshiped God in the same way and in the same place for hundreds of years. What right did Jesus have to tell them to change? They insisted that He perform a miracle to prove He was indeed speaking and acting on God’s behalf.
Jesus said, “Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days.”
The Jewish authorities were understandably confused by Jesus’ cryptic response. The temple in Jerusalem had undergone a four-decade-long reconstruction that was finally nearing completion. “The Jews replied, ‘It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and you are going to raise it in three days?’”
Because we know the rest of the story, we realize that “the temple he had spoken of was his body.”
Church buildings are sometimes referred to as “God’s house.” We understand, however, that God doesn’t really live inside churches. God cannot confine Himself within brick and mortar. “The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by hands.” Acts 17:24
King Solomon constructed the first Jerusalem temple 1,000 years earlier. When he completed it, God manifested His presence in the temple as He had on Mount Sinai, in the form of a “dark cloud.” “Then Solomon said, ‘The LORD has said that he would dwell in a dark cloud; I have indeed built a magnificent temple for you, a place for you to dwell forever.’” 1 Kings 8:12-13
Solomon was convinced that his temple would be a place where God would “dwell forever.” In this respect he was mistaken. The temple he built was ruined, rebuilt, refurbished, ruined again and ultimately replaced.
God’s plan was to meet mankind in a more familiar, approachable form. He planned to enter a temple made of flesh and blood. “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling (temple) among us.” John 1:14
Jesus has become God’s temple.
A “temple” is a place where human and divine intersect . . . a place where men and women connect with God. Jesus claimed to be the only means by which mankind can connect with God. “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” John 14:6
Jesus’ death and resurrection established His authority to make this exclusive claim. For first century disciples as for twenty-first century followers of Christ, Jesus’ resurrection from the dead supplies sufficient evidence to believe that as God the Son, Jesus does indeed speak for God. “After he was raised from the dead, his disciples recalled what he had said. Then they believed the Scripture and the words that Jesus had spoken.”
By His life, death and resurrection, Jesus demonstrated that He was not just a temple, He was THE temple . . . THE place where mankind meets God face to face.