So the Jews said to him, “What sign do you show us for doing these things?” Jesus answered, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” The Jews then said, “It has taken forty-six years to build the temple and you will raise it in three days?” But, he was speaking about the temple of his body. 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. John 2:18-22
Temple always equals “sacred space.” A physical place where heaven meets earth – where God dwells among his people. Just as the garden of Eden was a place where God’s presence mingled with humankind, so the tabernacle and the temple became sacred territory for God’s presence to reside. Here are some examples from Scripture:
- In Eden, Adam and Eve “heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day” (Genesis 3:8a).
- In the wilderness, the LORD said to Moses, “Let them make me a sanctuary where I may dwell in their midst” (Exodus 25:7).
- During King David’s reign, the LORD said to Samuel, “Go and tell my servant David, ‘Thus says the LORD: Would you build me a house to dwell in?’ I have not lived in a house since the day I brought up the people of Israel from Egypt to this day, but I have been moving about in a tent for my dwelling” (2 Samuel 7:5-6).
- After the exile, the LORD stirred King Cyrus’ spirit and pronounced, “The LORD, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth, and he has charged me to build him a house at Jerusalem, which is Judah (Ezra 1:2).
In John’s retelling of what happened in the temple, we witness Jesus flipping the entire narrative on its head proclaiming that HE is the center of all sacred space and that through his forthcoming death and resurrection, the dwelling place of God is being re-built.
God’s intention was never to dwell only in houses or tents but within human hearts (Acts 7:44-53). It is through Jesus we are made mini temples for God’s Spirit to dwell. Paul says to us along with the Corinthian church, “Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?” (1 Corinthians 3:16). Before Jesus left, he reassured his disciples his Spirit would come to dwell within them (John 14:16-17, 16:7).
Today, marvel at God’s great story as you learn more about God’s desire to dwell within and among humankind as you watch the Bible Project’s Video Lesson.
By Yvonne Biel