"What sign shewest
thou...? Jesus answered... Destroy this temple, and in three
days I will raise it up" (John 2:13-22).
In our book,
Discipleship in the School of Christ, we have pointed out two things
as to the Gospel by John. One: that his peculiar name for
miracles is "Signs", indicating that John was
particularly concerned with what the "mighty works"
signified in each case, rather than with the works themselves as
demonstrations of power. Two: that from what John calls volumes
of such works (21:25), he chose seven for his purpose in writing
In referring to the seven we
were concerned with what Jesus actually did during His earthly
ministry. We therefore did not refer to the greatest
"Sign" of all, because it lay beyond the
pre-crucifixion time. It is that to which we now turn - the Sign
of the Resurrection Body.
To recognize the full force of
the fragment quoted above it is necessary to read the whole
section, verses 13-22 of chapter two. Jesus went up to Jerusalem
at the time of the Passover. He found commercialism and
merchandise in the temple, and cast it all out, calling the
temple "My Father's House" ... "His disciples
remembered that it was written, The zeal of thine house shall eat
me up. The Jews therefore" (note the "therefore")
"answered and said unto him, What sign shewest thou unto us,
seeing that thou doest these things?" (note "these things").
So, unmistakably, the setting
is the temple in Jerusalem. It is therefore only natural that the
blind Jews should interpret His words as a reference to the
material temple (verse 20). John comments: "But he spake of
the temple of his body", and then carries the whole matter
over to His bodily resurrection.
Once more, as in every
"Sign", John shows that Jesus related everything to
Himself. Again and again Jesus postulates the great transition
from the material, the temporal, the historical, the traditional,
etc., to Himself. John 4:21-24 is a classic example.
Here, then, Jesus dismisses the
temple in Jerusalem, with all its history, its tradition, its
ritual, its priesthood, its material glory, and, so dismissing
it, puts Himself in its place for ever. What an immense
"Significance" is embodied in this change! His body was
destroyed by men, religious men, representing the destruction of
that earthly temple, in which destroying of His body the doom of
the earthly was sealed, and the historic system shattered and
scattered. In its place a resurrection body, Christ risen,
becomes the Temple for evermore. All that was typified by the
temple in Jerusalem is taken up in the risen Person - Jesus
Christ; a spiritual House of God; a spiritual "My Father's
What that significance is will
be our occupation in these pages for some time to come, if God
wills. We can, at once, be introduced to this new Temple in a
fresh recognition of the profound and comprehensive significance
of the favourite phrase of the Apostle Paul, and see what he saw
when he used it some two hundred times: "In Christ". To
be "In Christ" is to be where God is, where we meet
God; where God speaks; where all that is true of God is to be
found; to be a worshipping and adoring people; to be where heaven
and earth meet; to find the seat of mercy and the throne of
grace, and infinitely more.
This is the greater, more
glorious, and more abiding Temple than that which Solomon built.
If all that beheld the temples of Solomon, Zerubbabel, and Herod
wondered and praised; if David so loved and longed for "Thy
House, O God", and made it the crowning glory of his life;
all that and more is transferred to, and is the true glory of,
Him who said: "Destroy this temple (sanctuary), and in three
days I will raise it up." The glory of Heaven filled that
Temple when He was raised and exalted, and "Pentecost"
had that as its supreme explanation.
No wonder that one of John's
great words is "Glory"! (It occurs twenty-two times in
his Gospel.) ... "We beheld his glory." Not only did
"the Word become flesh", but "It tabernacled among
us" (1:14), a transition from the tabernacle in the
wilderness as the repository of the Law, or Word, of God, to
Himself - God's Son.
In this preliminary word we are
faced with the tremendous, challenging, and revolutionary fact
that, since Jesus was raised from the dead, the Temple, the House
of the Father, and all that it signifies is not a place,
an earthly location, a ritual, etc., but a Person, and where He
is and believers are in Him, there is the House of God; be
it dungeon, garret, simple home, cave or "Wheresoever",
that is "Bethel", the House of God.
First published in "A Witness and A
Testimony" magazine, Jan-Feb 1966, Vol 44-1