Over the years I have written several "book" or "booklets" and many, many, many newsletter and bulletin articles. Because the book market seeks writings to meet specific needs at specific times, my material has never been accepted. I have a tendency to write what is on my mind and so I am left with self publishing. So, with the encouragement from my wife and others, I am beginning this blog in order to put my "ramblings" "out there"! I hope you enjoy!
Please note that while my intentions are to use good grammar, because of the way in which some of the material presented here is presented (orally) the grammar and syntax might not always be the best English. Also note that good theology is not always presented in the best English so there may be times when the proper grammar rules are purposely broken.
Wednesday, March 4, 2015
Destroy This Temple - Lent Midweek Three - March 4, 2015 - Text: Matthew 26:59-61
Our text is Matthew 26:59-61: “59Now the chief priests and the whole Council were seeking false testimony against Jesus that they might put him to death, 60but they found none, though many false witnesses came forward. At last two came forward 61and said, “This man said, ‘I am able to destroy the temple of God, and to rebuild it in three days.’” This is our text.
Some people speak in code, using code words or signs or signals to another to communicate. For some the choice of speech is satire, for others it is exaggeration, for some it is double entendre, for some it is picture language. Allegorical language incorporates inanimate objects for living things. Jesus often spoke in parables, what we have called earthly stories with heavenly meanings. When Jesus spoke the words He spoke in our text those listening may have wondered if He were mad or speaking metaphorically, or literally, or what. Even today people may have a difficult time with Jesus’ Words and understanding what He was saying, yet, we have the advantage of the Gospel writer explaining His Word to us.
In our text Jesus is speaking about the temple and as we will see we would say His usage of the word is a metaphor. The scene is that Jesus is standing in front of the temple building, the second temple building. The original temple that was built in Jerusalem, was built by King Solomon. The original temple was meant to be a place where God would dwell among His people, not that God needed a temple as He told King David when David first desired to build a temple, but a temple as a place where His glory may dwell on earth among men. Up until the time of the building of the temple by King Solomon, the Lord had tabernacled or tented among the people in the wilderness, in a movable tent.
After the original temple was destroyed and torn down this temple, the one before which Jesus is now standing is the one that was rebuilt by the children of Israel. This temple was meant to be just like the first temple, a place for God to dwell among His people, as well as a place for the required sacrifices for the forgiveness of sins to be made. This physical temple building is where Jesus is standing when He speaks His words of destroying this temple, but His reference is not to the actual physical building as we will see.
Jesus is standing by the physical building of the temple but when Jesus is speaking about tearing down the temple, destroying the temple, He does not mean the physical building. We read in the book of Revelation that in heaven there will be no temple because there will be no need for a temple. Remember, the physical building of the temple meant God’s presence among His people. In heaven Jesus will be eternally present, thus there will be no need for a temple. Here in Jerusalem as Jesus is alive, living and moving among the Children of Israel, Jesus truly is God among His people as the living temple.
And so there is this misunderstanding of Jesus’ words and we might infer that for the Pharisees and teachers of the law this was a purposeful misunderstanding as their purpose was to find a reason to convict Jesus so they might be rid of Him. There were other times when Jesus did actually speak about the physical temple building and how it would one day be destroyed. But that was not the case at this time.
When Jesus spoke about the temple being destroyed and that in three days He would raise up the temple we know, understand and believe that He was speaking about His body that would be destroyed, that is He would die on the cross, but on the third day He would rise from the dead. Thus the temple about which Jesus is speaking is the temple of His body, even as today we continue to understand that our own bodies are temples for the Holy Spirit, thus we are not our own for we were bought with a price, the price of Jesus own body.
Again, I would say there is an obvious misconstruing of Jesus’ Words, at least for us today, but even more so with the Pharisees who were looking for an accusation and a charge against Jesus. Of course, even with this obvious misconstruing of words the Pharisees still had a difficult time trying to convict Jesus. Remember, a person could not be convicted on the testimony of one person. Even today we know that a person cannot be convicted on the testimony of one person because the other person would testify to the exact opposite and so who would you believe. But a person could be convicted on the testimony of two witnesses and so two witnesses needed to be found.
So the search was on for two witnesses to testify against Jesus. As witnesses were paraded forward, each gave a testimony, but unfortunately for the Pharisees even with all the witnesses they were having difficulty with two giving the same testimony. So although many may have said similar things, the could not find two that really did agree. However, on this one charge and only on this one charge and that being a charge where in there was a misconstruing of Jesus’ Words was there some agreement.
What does this mean? As always we are reminded that God created us to love us. Adam and Eve messed up what God created as perfect and holy and so God promised to fix what man messed up. God’s promise was to send a Savior, a Messiah, a Christ for all people. God fulfilled that promise in Jesus. Jesus is true God in human flesh, conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary. Jesus is God living among His people, living in time and history. Jesus is an historic person who entered human history to do for us and all mankind what we are unable to do.
Jesus was conceived, born and lived fulfilling all of God’s commands and promises, from the very beginning of the time that was given to us by our infinite God who lives in the eternal present and who has given time as a gift to us. Jesus lived perfectly for us in our place because we cannot live perfectly. Jesus never broke any of the commandments nor any of the law. Jesus did for us what we are unable to do. Then Jesus took our sins upon Himself. He traded our imperfection for His perfection. Indeed He traded His life for ours.
Jesus took our sins upon Himself and suffered the penalty for our sin, eternal spiritual death, hell in other words, for us in our place. What should have been ours to suffer He suffered. He suffered the complete suffering for all sins of all people, of all places, of all times. And He died. Yes, our God, in Jesus died. Just as you and I will some day face death, physical death, so Jesus died a physical death. His body was laid in a tomb and His spirit continued to live, rising to heaven. Jesus died, but He did not stay dead. On the third day since He had been placed in the tomb, He rose from the dead. With His death and resurrection He soundly, once for all, defeated sin, death and the devil.
And now Jesus gives us eternal life in heaven where He will live among us as our God and Lord, even as the very temple in our presence. With great joy we will live with Jesus in heaven. He will be the living temple so there will be no need for a temple, nor a sun and He will be the light. With great joy we will live with Him in His heaven forever in His eternal presence. And this is all gift given to us by Him who created us to love us and give His all to us.
The witnesses testified that Jesus said, “I am able to destroy the temple of God, and to rebuild it in three days.” Either way, either the physical building or His own body, yes, Jesus, who is God in flesh could do either. If it was His desire He could have torn down and rebuilt the physical temple in three days, after all, He created the whole world in six days. And yet, even more the temple of His body was destroyed, crucified on the cross, yet, death and the grave had no power over Him, as He did rise, physically rise on the third day. He showed Himself to be alive for forty days so that we might have confidence and know for sure that what He says in His word is faithful and true. And we truly only need the testimony of one witness, even Christ Himself whose testimony is true. And so, in the end we rejoice and give thanks as we say, to God be the glory, for Jesus’ sake. Amen.