18So the Jews said to him, “What sign do you show us for doing these things?” 19Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” 20The Jews then said, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and will you raise it up in three days?” 21But he was speaking about the temple of his body. 22When 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.
Jesus saw two temples: The temple Israel built with stones. And the temple of His body built by God.
Which temple mattered the most?
Which holy space is God’s most dear concern?
Jesus had just cleared the Court of the Gentiles of the people committed to profiting from His Father’s house and the desire for righteousness. When asked for a sign to show His authority, Jesus said, “Destroy this temple and three days I will raise it up.” His audience was confused and incredulous. The Temple in which they stood took 46 years to build.
But the temple of which Jesus spoke was His body. “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us.” (John 1:14) Jesus was looking forward to the culmination of His passion in the resurrection of His body. The implications are staggering. 1) Jesus understood that His body was the first arena for experiencing and knowing the Heavenly Father. Your body is meant to be a holy space. 2) Through Jesus’ occupation of flesh, God has solidarity with people. People matter to God. 3) Therefore the buildings we build for His glory must serve God’s greater purpose for the redemption of people.
Jesus anticipated His destruction at their hands on the cross. But he also anticipated the impact of His completed work of forgiveness for sin: The Holy Spirit would be sent by the Father in Jesus’ name to occupy the “temple” of every one His disciples. Later the apostle Paul would write:
For, as it is written, “The two will become one flesh.” 17But he who is joined to the Lord becomes one spirit with him. 18Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body. 19Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, 20for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.