Text: John 2:13-22; 1 Cor. 1:18-31
17 His disciples remembered that it was written, “Zeal for your house will consume me.”
18 So the Jews said to him, “What sign do you show us for doing these things?” 19 Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.”
When President Donald Trump called for moving the US embassy to Jerusalem there was much joy for Jews and condemnation from those opposed to the move. Jerusalem is a hot bed for so much of the world’s religious as well as political turmoil but so is the Temple Mount.
The second Temple was destroyed in 70 AD. For Jews today their activity is restricted on the Temple mount. The Dome on the Rock is there and is holy to Muslims and Jews are not allowed to pray there, though some do pray under their breath. For Jews in Jerusalem there is a growing need to rebuild the Temple, to resume the temple sacrifices and to wait for the coming of the messiah.
In our gospel reading for today we move to the book of John. As we looked at our gospel lesson in Mark last week, Jesus explained that he must suffer, be rejected by the Elders, Chief priests and the scribes, be killed and after three day, rise from the dead. Mark 8:31
Jesus was zealous both for his Father’s House in driving out those who had made it a house of trade selling oxen and sheep and pigeons, [along with] the money-changers [who were] sitting there, just as he was with Peter last week, rebuking him for “not setting his mind on the things of God.”
The Jewish leaders now ask Jesus – what is the evidence that you can give us as to your authority for doing such things, by casting those out of the temple?
22 For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, Paul tells the Corinthians in our epistle lesson for today. 1 Cor. 1:22
So Jesus tells them,
19 … “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.”
As you can imagine, the Jews that Jesus is talking to believe he is talking about “The Temple” the building of the second Temple that had taken 46 years to build, where all the daily sacrifices had taken place.
This is the place where God dwells … where sin is atoned for.
You can see that not much has changed in the nearly 2000 years since the cross of our Lord. The Jews today are still rebuilding the Temple … and the cross as Paul says in our epistle is:
23 … a stumbling block to Jews and folly [or foolishness] to Gentiles,
But we who have been blessed to be brought to the foot of the cross see Jesus as our savior and trust in his work; where true temple worship is in the once and for all sacrifice for sin.
Jews look to rebuild the Temple and resume the sacrifices while Gentiles see foolishness in belief of a saving God. Their wisdom tells them to trust in self.
25 For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.
But many fall short. For some the stumbling … or the foolishness is just plain stubbornness.
Pastor Terry Klaus told a story once at one of our circuit meetings about a member of his church who during the summer asked him this question.
“Pastor, is it better for me to be sitting in church thinking about fishing or sitting on the lake fishing and thinking about God?”
Well, Pastor Klaus said, he thought about this for a moment when he replied: “Well, it would be better for you to be in church hearing God’s word than sitting in a boat and having the Devil send all those fish your way … where you won’t be thinking about God at all!”
A stumbling block or foolishness, Christ body is the Temple that has been destroyed and has also, after three days, been raised.
It remains a problem for many still today. For the Jews the Temple remains something to be rebuilt and stumble while many who are [non Jews] the Cross of Christ remains [foolishness], something to be seen as weakness and not the power of God.
The cross is an offence, so much so that at times we shy away from it, especially in the midst of the world.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer in his book: Life together writes,
“Jesus Christ lived in the midst of his enemies. At the end all his disciples deserted him. On the Cross he was utterly alone, surrounded by evildoers and mockers. For this cause he had come, to bring peace to the enemies of God.
So the Christian, too, belongs not in the seclusion of a cloistered [or monastic] life but in the thick of foes [and enemies].
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together: The Classic Exploration of Faith in Community
In the turmoil of the world the cross of Christ will be a stumbling block or foolishness.
My Co-worker Paul in the music business was both Jewish by birth and atheist in belief. So with the cross he had both a stumbling block and saw it also as foolish. We had a number of talks about Jesus. Paul listened and asked questions but most every time he would end our discussions by throwing up his hands and saying, “That’s enough!”
One day when I came was walking by his office he called me over and said, “Russ, last night I had a dream that terrified me. In the dream I thought I say the face of pure evil!” I said, “Well Paul may be God has given you a glimpse of what awaits apart from being covered by the blood of Christ?”
The stumbling and foolishness of “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” was just too much for him.
21 But [Jesus] was speaking about the temple of his body. 22 When therefore he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this, and they believed the Scripture and the word that Jesus had spoken.
In spite of our weakness and in spite of our failings God in Christ was focused on the cross for you. The Temple of his body that was destroyed for you is victory! It is victory because the full wrath of God was poured out on Jesus and as a result you have no fear of standing before our holy God.
Dear member Dorenne Ridge is in hospice care as she at 93 prepares to depart and be with the Lord. Pastor Merrell and I took a ride to see her in Mayville about 55 miles north of here. She was alert and recognized me and saying when I told her Pastor Merrell was here, “I know that name!”
The comfort is that God knows Dorenne’s name too. He has died and for her and though she like we will one day die, she too by God’s working in her by faith rise too!
God in Christ has taken your sin and my sin upon himself and has given you and all who believe his righteousness in exchange for it – what wonderful good news – and as a result we are free of the bonds of sin, death, and the devil and are covered by Christ’s righteousness and made his child through faith by the power of the Holy Spirit
19 Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.”
Christ is consumed with his zeal for you and just as he has been raised … you too will rise!
May our Lord and savior Jesus Christ, who has redeemed you, and called you through the power of the Holy Spirit to faith, complete this blessed good work in you now and forever!
In the name of the Father, and of the Son + and of the Holy Spirit!