The Jews then responded to him, “What sign can you show us to prove your authority to do all this?” Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days.” They replied, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and you are going to raise it in three days?” But the temple he had spoken of was his body. After he was raised from the dead, his disciples recalled what he had said. Then they believed the scripture and the words that Jesus had spoken. (John 2:18–22)
The Temple was created as a house for God’s people to gather and meet with God in His presence. The Temple itself, the priesthood, and the sacrificial system were all intended to point to Jesus who would come as the Presence of God, our Great High Priest, and the Sacrifice for our sins.
When Jesus arrived at the Temple, the people did not honor Him but instead demanded that He perform a miracle as if He were a circus sideshow act. Jesus’ response to the Jews was a veiled allusion to His impending death and resurrection. He said that if the Temple were destroyed, He would rebuild it in three days. At this point, the Temple had been undergoing construction for 46 years, and it still had 20 years of work left. When Jesus said that the Temple would return in a mere three days after being destroyed, the crowd rushed to conclusions instead of asking questions. What they didn’t understand was that He was speaking about His death, burial, and resurrection body.
The center of Christianity is not a place but a Person named Jesus. This is a distinct feature of our faith. We don’t need to make a trip to a sacred place, because Jesus, through the Holy Spirit, will meet with us in any place.
In our day, the Scriptures also tell us that believers gathered together in Jesus are the temple of God (1 Corinthians 3:16–17; Ephesians 2:19–22). We are to be the place in which God dwells and is worshiped with reverence and joy, a place in which those who do not know God are freely able to come and ponder God and listen to Him call them by name to be His people. We too can become so inordinately concerned with things (a church building, program, worship style, etc.) that we ignore what really matters – meeting with God and building the relationship together with Jesus.
How is your relationship with Jesus? Do you see any and every place you go as a potentially sacred place to welcome God’s presence? Is there any part of your life that you do not welcome Jesus into (job, relationship, hobby, entertainment, etc.)?