January 21, 2013
From the desk of Dr. A.J. Higgins
“Destroy this Temple and in three days I will raise it up.”
John 2 describes the first Passover season of John’s Gospel. The Lord Jesus, in obedience to the Word of God, went up to Jerusalem. The account of this cleansing of the Temple is well known. It was Passover and the “leaven” must be cast out. But as a result of His actions, He is challenged by the Establishment. The matter of His authority for His actions is what is brought up: “What sign shewest Thou unto us, seeing that Thou doest these things?” It is interesting that they did not challenge the rightness or wrongness of what He had done; only His authority for doing it.
To their question, the Lord responds with a startling reply: “Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up.” To men whose minds were earthbound and occupied alone with the tangible and ritualistic, they recoiled at the idea of the temple they were in being raised up in three days. Why, it had taken 46 years to refurbish the temple which Zerubbabel had begun centuries earlier! How could this Man possibly rebuild it in three short days? The key to their misunderstanding is supplied by John in the next verse, “But He spake of the temple of His body” (v 21).
While here amongst us, His body was the Temple of God. Here is where God was pleased to dwell amongst men. Linked with the thought of a Temple is both sanctity and the divine presence. All this was true of that perfect body. But men would “destroy” or tear down this Temple. It suggests the violence and destructiveness of men toward Him. In destroying a building, the wreckers level it and take it apart piece by piece. Men sought to “tear down” Christ and demolish Him. Their malice and hatred would only be satisfied by His total destruction.
1. This is the first reference of the Lord Jesus to His death in the Gospel. Notice how much earlier it occurs in John than in the three synoptic Gospels.
2. In John 1, the Lord Jesus replaces the Tabernacle (v14). In chapter 2 He replaces the Temple. Trace how He replaces everything in John’s Gospel (e.g. the manna, the law, feasts, etc.)
3. What is the implication in His words, “I will raise it up?”
4. Collect some of the expressions for what men did to Christ. For example, here it is “destroy.” Elsewhere we read of His being cut off, “falling into the ground,” etc.
5. Compare the Lord’s words in verse 16, “Make not …” with what He says in Matthew 21:31, “Ye have made it…” What does this suggest?