Exodus 20:1-17; 1 Corinthians 1:18-31; John 2:13-22
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
On the Seminary campus in Fort Wayne, Indiana, you’ll notice one building stands above all the others. The Chapel is a dominating figure on the campus and can be seen regardless of where you stand. It is taller than every other building and also sits on the top of the hill. As you can imagine, the campus was designed this way, putting a special emphasis on the chapel itself. For every day as we walked to and from classes, it stood as a reminder of the central aspect of the campus… our relationship to God. It reminded us of the importance of everything we did on that campus.
In the same way, the temple has always been an important figure in Jewish history. It has always stood to remind the Israelites of everything God has done for them. After leading the Israelites out of Egypt, through the Red Sea, God instructs them to build the Tabernacle. As Israel went from place to place, the tabernacle was always the first thing constructed, and even more, put at the center of their camp. Then the temple was built by Solomon in Jerusalem. It too stood at a place of prominence. It stood to remind them of their long history.
Over the years, however, the meaning of the temple was lost on the people. People still knew they needed to go there for the required sacrifices, but it had changed. It was now just one place out of many that you had to regularly go. Moneychangers called it their office, their place of work, just as the priests did. The temple had become a market for the moneychangers to make a profit off the required sacrifices.
It’s no surprise then that Jesus is angry, that he is zealous. For he knows. The temple was more than just a building. It was even more than just a reminder. The temple was the house of God, the house of his Father. For the tabernacle, then the temple was the very place where God would come to dwell among his people. It was the place God had instructed to be built so that a holy God could dwell among an unholy people. While the rules and laws seemed burdensome, it was to point to this exact fact. God had come to dwell with us… to be in our midst.
For the temple that day spoke to a greater reality. It spoke to the greater temple. For the Jews seek a sign of Jesus’ authority for what he did. Thus, Jesus says, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up,” John 2:19. For the temple of the living God was a man, Jesus Christ. The very presence of God had come down to dwell among us, to be tabernacled among us. Yet, that temple would be destroyed. Jesus would be scourged himself by a whip. Then he would be offered up as the great and final sacrifice on the cross to cleanse, not the temple, but his people! Thus, by Jesus’ death, he has cleansed you. He has washed away your sins so that YOU now, are the holy temple of the Living God!
O God, whose glory it is always to have mercy, be gracious to all who have gone astray from Your ways and bring them again with penitent hearts and steadfast faith to embrace and hold fast the unchangeable truth of Your Word; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen!