‘Destroy this temple, and I will raise it up again in three days’ (John 2:19).
Jesus didn’t mean rebuilding a temple of bricks and mortar, but his body (vv. 21–22). Jesus came to replace the temple. No longer do we need the temple for revelation and purification, as God’s people did in the Old Testament. It’s not about a place, it’s a person. Jesus is the new temple. True worship is faith in Jesus as the Christ, the Son of God, who reveals the full glory of God (John 1:14).
But Church history shows we are tempted to go back to the Old Testament temple days.
I’m not sure what the appeal is. Perhaps, self-righteousness and dependenance on human made impressive buildings and religious deeds. Maybe if we are generous we could say some places and acts of religion remind us of God’s holiness and transcendance. But it seems often we want to rebuild what Jesus replaced.
In my own Anglican tradition we built our churches with a sanctuary, chancel, and nave based on the Temple that limited where people can worship in the church. We call our leaders ‘priests,’ dress them up in frocks, and act as if they are a mediator between us and God. We ask them, perhaps jokingly, to ‘Say a prayer for me!’
In other older traditions there are priests who mediate God to us, and even offer the Lord’s Supper as a sacrifice to complete what Christ did on the Cross.
In more recent ‘traditions’ that emphasise praise and worship (music), God’s presence is ‘ushered into his house’ through music and singing, as if God’s presence is dependant on our acts of worship. Again putting the emphasis on what we do to have God’s presence, like the good-old bad-old Old Testament days.
It seems so often we confuse our Old and New Testament, and our worship and meetings try to put us back under the Old Testament.
The good news of the gospel is there is nothing we can do to meet God. He has done it all when the ‘Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us’ (John 1:14). God is present with us always. When Jesus came to earth (incarnate) as one of us, died and rose to life three days later, he completed all that is needed for revelation and purification. True worship is belief in Jesus the Son of God.
Now there is no need for a temple or any of the religious buildings, deeds, priests, or holy days of the Old Testament. Jesus has replaced them all.
Let’s pray that all we do in our church meetings points to Jesus as the new temple, and let’s encourage each other to believe in him for forgiveness of sin and eternal life.