Insert text here.
John 2:18-22, NIV
18 Then the Jews demanded of him [Jesus], "What miraculous sign can you show us to prove your authority to do all this?" 19 Jesus answered them, "Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days."
20 The Jews replied, "It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and you are going to raise it in three days?" 21 But the temple he had spoken of was his body. 22 After he was raised from the dead, his disciples recalled what he had said. Then they believed . . . the words that Jesus had spoken.
November 30, 2010After Jesus cleared out the temple courtyard, those in charge of what went on at the temple wanted a sign (the other Gospel writers called them miracles) to justify/prove his authority. Jesus mystified them instead. Why didn't he speak plainly so people could understand him? Or was it John who made his words sound so incomprehensible? We talk about Jesus' simplicity and his parables that were so easy to understand--not really. At least not if we are in a hurry and want to understand--perfectly--right now.
Sometimes I think the only way Jesus made any sense was to look at him through the eyes of love. Love him first, understand him later (like the disciples in verse 22). Does that mean faith must come first, before love and understanding? Openness to an unseen world, the realm of the spirit. Receptivity to the workings of the Spirit and the love of God?
The Pharisees had a rock-hard attitude which the life-light of God couldn't penetrate. Jesus didn't reason with them or debate his authority. They asked for a sign and he gave them one (if they could wait 3 years to see it). Those men who confronted Jesus in the temple didn't want to believe in him anyway, so no miracle would have satisfied them. His response was bold, courageous, brief and to the point. It was also ridiculous if you think about it. They weren't going to destroy their magnificent temple which took 46 years to build just to see if Jesus could rebuild it in 3 days!
It turns out Jesus wasn't even talking about the physical place where they were all standing. Jesus was talking about his body! It was a common characteristic of Jesus to speak on a higher level of meaning while his hearers were listening on an earthly level. If Jesus meant the actual temple it would take a construction crew to rebuild it. But John said this temple meant Jesus' body and rebuilding it was accomplished through his resurrection on the third day after his crucifixion.
John ends this episode abruptly as though it was something only the disciples could comprehend.
More journal entries
June 23, 1982As was typical throughout the Gospels, Jesus was using physical objects to express spiritual truths. His listeners thought only of what they could see and touch and missed the symbolism of his language. I always thought Jesus should do more explaining; if people only understood, they would believe. But it's not true. The use of cigarettes is a good example of the fact that people can know something is harmful but still persist in their smoking habit. Knowledge does not necessarily change behavior. What is the evidence required for belief in God? How could these protectors of the faith at the temple be convinced to accept Jesus as God's man on earth, the one promised by the prophets? How were the disciples persuaded? Nicodemus enters our story line in the next chapter--at what point did he begin to believe and why? When I decided to believe that "God is good and gives good gifts to me because I am his beloved child", that was an act of faith on my part, leading to new dimensions of hope, love and understanding--also to repentance, change and newness of life. It's something like the chicken and the egg: love leads to faith and faith leads to love, which came first? I simply made a decision to believe that these words of Jesus were spoken, not only to people 2000 years ago, but to me, too.
December 1, 2010They wanted proof! Was it a struggle for ownership and control? How does anyone prove their right to authority. The most extreme way is at the tip of a gun or the point of a knife. But that's not what God uses to gain converts.Jesus, where is the proof? Why should we do what you say? The authorities at the temple certainly didn't give Jesus permission to clear the merchants out of the courtyard.
For some people God proves his authority in the rising or setting of the sun, in the babble of a meadow stream or the majesty of a great mountain. Like the patriarch Abraham in Genesis who looked at the stars in the sky and the sand on the beach and was satisfied that God would do what God promised to do.
Others need to see miracles of a different kind, as in answered prayers or by surviving the odds. People who believe they shouldn't still be alive, but they are. John Wesley, the founder of the United Methodist Church, was snatched from a burning house when he was a 5-year old. For the rest of his days he acknowledged Jesus as the Word and Authority of his life.
What did these religious leaders think they were asking Jesus to do. Surely something so great or dramatic that it would change their thinking and direction in life forever. Wouldn't we all like to see a sign once in a while. A phenomenon the sight of which would increase our faith, strengthen our beliefs, enable us to give an answer to those who ridicule, or to tide us over trouble spots.
However, their question seems to be asked from a different motive. It probably sounded more like: "Jesus, just you try to do something, anything, that will make us believe in you and trust your authority in matters of our faith. Go on, make my day!" The final verses in this chapter may have been spoken with these same guys in mind! Jesus didn't trust them either; he knew their hearts.
So in response to their request, Jesus spoke in a riddle. If they were interested in who he was, they could spend their time trying to figure out the answer. Of course, John tells the reader Jesus was not thinking about the present, he was looking into the future when his body would be not only the sacrifice, but also the temple--a holy place for God, for worship, for deeds of love and mercy, caring and compassion, grace and truth, death and resurrection.
Jesus is the sacrifice that will do away with all others. Jesus is the new temple that will still stand when all other temples have fallen.They wanted proof, and that's what they got.
November 17, 2001The temple area in Jerusalem will be the focal point for much of John's gospel. As early as chapter 2, John mentions the Passover Feast in Jerusalem. Then there was the defiant act of Jesus that disrupted business as usual in the temple courtyard, accompanied by the astonishing claim that the temple was his Father's house. Lastly, a prediction of his death and then something which was really a stretch for his listeners at that time, his resurrection. Surely the events of this day will put a nail in his coffin.What gives Jesus the authority to upset the tradition of buying and selling sacrificial animals at the temple, the most holy site of Judaism? John connects his answer to the death and resurrection of Jesus, the Lamb of God.--No money traded hands; Jesus was God's gift to the world.
So, too, the church of Jesus Christ is in the business of giving freely just as God has given to us. It's not about making profits. When we minister in Christ's name we are to give everything away, our time, our talent and our treasure. While at the same time also freely giving grace and truth, mercy and forgiveness, peace and righteousness, worship and praise, gratitude and love.