The Temple of His Body

 “The Lord, whom you seek, shall suddenly come to His temple, even the Messenger of the Covenant, whom you delight in; behold, He shall come, says the Lord of hosts” (Malachi 3:1).

Jesus arrived at the Temple of Jerusalem in John 2. He got an up-close view of the business side of religion. And it sent Him into a rage. Yes, angry Jesus revealed Himself in the gospel account written by the Apostle John, the Apostle of Love. God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, but also God so loved the world that He also told the Truth about its crookedness, especially when perversity marred the way to seek His face. 

In the sacred compound, He saw what looked like a bazaar. The indignation at what was before Him was too much. He could not dismiss it. The things that He witnessed were doing damage to people, leading them in a practice of worship that was worthless and entangling. 

He did not call fire down from Heaven to blast the scene and reduce it to cinders. This type of answer did come against idolaters at one point in Israel’s history, however. Elijah called for the Lord to show Himself as the one true God with flames, as companies of soldiers were sent to capture him (see 2 Kings 1).  Then, at another time, the Apostles John and James wanted to fry a Samaritan village and its inhabitants when Jesus and His men were refused hospitality en route to Jerusalem (see Luke 9:51-56).

Jesus undertook a more measured path to give space to His displeasure at the Temple. He wove together strands of rope and fashioned a whip. With this, He drove the merchandisers from what was supposed to be a “house of prayer for all nations.” He thrashed the sellers and animal keepers, and He overturned the tables manned by currency exchangers, sending coins flying in all directions. Lambs, goats, and pigeons were set loose and bedlam descended on the area.

By What Authority

Zeal for the House of the Lord was what fueled the Son’s outburst. The place of worship had been reduced to a convenience store and souvenir stand; He could not abide this. 

The religious leaders, who likely got kickbacks of cash from the operation, were angered by this demonstration. This protest was met with scorn and a challenge. They demanded to know on what authority Jesus stood.

This was not an unusual question. Men who spoke for the Lord were asked this all the time. The status of prophet and rabbi was tested.

Who did Jesus think He was? He came to the Temple to set things straight. The leaders wanted to know the source of His claim to speak and act as He did.

And Jesus answered them with a statement I don’t think they saw coming: “Destroy this Temple, and in three days I will raise it up again.”

Dumbfounded, the questioners sputtered and struggled to spit out a response to the Son. The physical plant about them had taken 46 years to build. Heavy stones and gold plating made this one of the wonders of the Roman world. The structures were part of a pet project funded and supervised by Herod the Great, a ruler who tried to buy the loyalty of the Jewish population to him as their king. He also took a Jewish princess as his bride.

These were the kinds of things Herod did when he was in a good mood. At other times, Herod employed savagery and military brutality to maintain order and preserve his position in the standing of the Empire.

The Temple Jesus stood in was a gaudy and elaborate display of his wealth and privilege, and it had bought Herod influence with many of the leading Jewish families, clans who made quite a living from what went on in the religious center.

A New, Living Structure

“Destroy this Temple and I will raise it up in three days.”

How ludicrous the words of Jesus seemed to these pillars of Hebrew society. But the Temple to which Jesus referred was something different.

The Son of God spoke of the Temple of His Body.

This concept and reality was something even the Savior’s closest followers misunderstood until Resurrection Day came. After He came out of the grave, the disciples’ hearts were more ready to receive the truth about His Person. 

Jesus appeared suddenly in the Temple, according the prophecy of Malachi. He strode upon the scene and took on the religion of structure and ceremony.

God had promised this coming of the New Covenant:  “…I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people” (Jeremiah 31:33). “I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them” (Ezekiel 36:27).

This message aimed at the inner life Jesus began to sketch out for us in the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew, chapters 5-7. In that discourse, the Son spoke of murder and adultery as attitudes born first in hearts of pride before they were ever acted upon. He spoke of living relationships of love even for enemies. 

Death Could Not Keep Him

“Destroy this Temple and I will raise it up in three days.”

The human body of Christ would be: crushed, bruised, battered, scarred by thorns, and pierced with nails and a Roman spear. His lifeless corpse was made so by His choice to commit His spirit into the hands of the Father; the Savior was laid in a tomb, sealed, marked, and guarded by soldiers. 

When dawn came on the third day, that Body of Christ was made alive again and forevermore. The glorified Son came out and showed Himself “by many convincing proofs” (see Acts 1:3). 

Here was the evidence of His ultimate authority. Through the redemptive work that He finished, He dealt the death blow to death. The Throne in Heaven was secured through the offering of Himself as the Lamb of God. The incorruptible One could not experience corruption (Psalm 16:10). 

King of kings and Lord of lords is Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Son of David. And by this, He is now building a new and living Temple, a holy House fitted together by His Spirit. 

Christ is the Cornerstone of this living Temple that is formed by one salvation after another salvation. Click To Tweet

Christ is the Cornerstone of this living Temple that is formed by one salvation after another salvation. Each believer is added and fitted into His Household. We receive His mercy and become members of Him; we are His peculiar, chosen people, His lively stones, according to 1 Peter 2:5. 

We are stones, and this should mean something to us. We are set fast and forever in Him. There’s a stability and permanence about who we are because of our relationship to the Rock who saves us. 

Together, as His Holy House, we are a mighty fortress because we are Him and He is us. The gates of hell do assault us, but these attacks shall never prevail.

Sure, there may be some seeming defeats, here and there, but ultimately the Church of Christ shall stand with Him as His Bride. 

Christ is risen indeed. The Temple of His Body stands and shall stand forever. 

Steve Andrulonis
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