Aug 6 2014
Picture: Jews pray at the Western Wall – the only remaining part of their temple
The temple dominated Jewish society in Christ’s time. It was by far the biggest building in Jerusalem and some Jews attended it daily. So you can imagine the shock when Jesus told the rulers of the temple that he would destroy it and raise it in three days.
Jesus had just driven marketers out of the temple area and the rulers asked him what sign he would give them to show he had the authority to do this. It was a long held belief that the Messiah would cleanse the temple when he came, so they were looking at his actions as a claim to Messiahship. Jesus said ‘Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up again’ (John 2:19). They thought he was crazy because it had taken 46 years to build the temple, but Jesus was talking about his body. It would be destroyed at the crucifixion and raised from the dead on the third day.
Now, this statement is big. For Jesus to associate his body with the Jewish temple was quite something. The temple was holy – it contained the Presence of God. Was Jesus’ body holy, did it contain the Presence of God? In hindsight Christians will say yes, but it was not that obvious to Jews at the time. But this was not all. Jesus was about to institute a new order of worship. He was about to declare the old temple obsolete and a new temple – the Church – open for operation. More