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Monthly Archives: October 2013

When Jesus died, the inner curtain of the temple was torn from top to bottom, showing that the great final sacrifice had been made and the system of sacrificial offerings was forever ended.  But when He rose three days later, Jesus became not only our Saviour but also our High Priest in the great temple in heaven. 

Now people could focus on the true sacrifice for the sins of the world.  Even though the heavenly sanctuary and our High Priest were not visible to human eyes, the disciples never felt separated from Jesus’ love and power.  When Jesus ministers in the sanctuary above, He still ministers on earth through His Holy Spirit. 

This fulfills His parting promise:  “I will be with you always, even to the end of the world.”  Jesus is still with His church.

Jesus spoke the words for those who would believe in Him.  Because it was Passover, they would be repeated to thousands of people and carried to all parts of the world.  After He rose from the dead, all those people would understand what He had meant and their faith would grow.  To many, these words would prove that He was the Son of God. 

His words also referred to the temple and to the services held in it.  Those sacrifices and services were symbols of Jesus and His sacrifice to save the world.  When Jesus was killed, the meaning and purpose of the temple and its rituals were destroyed.  The Jewish leaders did destroy the temple, by having Jesus put to death.

But Jesus’ words had more than one meaning.  First, He was referring to His own body.  These Jewish leaders had already discussed having Him killed because they considered Him a troublemaker.  Jesus knew that no one, not even the disciples understood His meaning.  He also knew that the priests would remember these words and throw them back in His face at His trial and at the Cross. 

But if He tried to explain them now, His disciples would be overwhelmed.  They were not ready to learn that He would suffer and die.  And His explanation would prematurely show the Jewish leaders the end of the path they were walking.

Jesus had already shown them a sign.  Light had flashed into their hearts and they could see and hear the healed people.  Both were signs of their promised Messiah.  So He answered them with a parable, a riddle that showed that He had read the hatred in their hearts.  “Destroy this temple,” He said, “and in three days I will build it again.” 

The priests were offended.  “It took forty-six years to build this temple, but you can rebuild it in three days?!”  In their minds, this ridiculous claim convinced them that they were right to reject Him as the possible Messiah.

Of course, the priests and rulers should have been the first to see that Jesus was the Messiah.  They held the scrolls that told about His mission and His work.  They knew that something more than human power had cleared the temple of wrongdoers.  But the thought of losing their power over the people and their income from temple selling made the hate in their hearts grow stronger. 

They were still afraid that Jesus might be a prophet sent by God.  With respect that grew from fear, they asked, “What sign will you show us to prove that you have the right to do these things?”

Those who were healed here did not join in the shouts of “Crucify Him” when Jesus was killed.  They had felt His power.  They knew He was their Saviour.  They listened to His apostles and began to spread their stories about His love and the salvation He offered. 

The crowd that had run from the temple was now making its way back.  When they saw and heard what Jesus had done, they were astounded.  Most felt sure that Jesus must be the Messiah. 

The priests were responsible for what the temple had become.  The people were largely innocent.  Years of religious training told them that the priests must know best.  What right did Jesus have to interfere with the temple market that the priests allowed?  With thoughts like these, they quieted the voice of the Holy Spirit and refused to follow Jesus.

 

But the scene in the courtyard had changed.  The poor and needy had not run at the sight of Jesus raising a whip.  They had not seen anger in His eyes ~ they saw love and hope.  They turned to this Rescuer and cried, “Master, bless me!” 

Like a mother bending to help her children, He reached out to those who suffered.  Each one was healed ~ the dumb spoke words of praise, the blind wept at the sight of their Saviour’s face.  Voices again filled the temple with echoing sound.  But this time the voices were filled with thankfulness and praise.  Young and old, fathers and mothers, friends and onlookers were filled with joy and hope.  And they spread that hope as they returned to their homes, telling the story to everyone they met along the way.

Because Jesus spoke with the authority of a king and they could not resist the power of His voice.  When He spoke, they saw clearly that they were really hypocrites and thieves.  When divinity flashed through Him, they saw more than just Jesus’ anger; they saw how serious His words were.  They felt as if God had judged them for eternity.  For a time, they were certain that He was a prophet ~ many of them even thought He was the Messiah.  The Holy Spirit worked in their hearts, reminding them of the prophecies that had come to pass.  Would they accept Jesus and turn from their selfish lives?

They would not. They knew they were guilty. Now they were also humiliated in the eyes of the people, people would see Jesus as a hero. Slowly and thoughtfully, with hatred in their hearts, they returned to the temple to challenge Him and His authority.

Overwhelmed with terror, the priests and rulers ran from the temple court, from the searching eyes that read their hearts.  Jesus saw them as a symbol of the whole Jewish nation that had been scattered because of their faithlessness and wickedness.

And why did they run?  Why didn’t they stand their ground against this carpenter’s Son, this poor Man from Galilee?  Why did they leave their stolen money and run from Someone who appeared to be so powerless?

By cleansing the temple, Jesus also announced His mission to cleanse our hearts from sin, from the selfish desires and evil habits that overwhelm us.  We cannot drive the evil out of our own hearts.  Only Jesus can cleanse the soul temple.  But He will not force His way in.  He says, ” ‘I stand at the door and knock.  If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in.’ ”  (Revelation 3:20)  His presence cleanses the heart and makes it a holy temple ~ a place where God can live.