Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days.” The Jews replied, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and you are going to raise it in three days?”
As a father, what is often frustrating and exasperating is when my children mistake a command as a question. “Feed the dog” is mistakenly understood to be “When would it be convenient for you to feed the dog?” “Go to bed” is misinterpreted as “Would you like to go to sleep now?”
Today, I was struck by how I have failed to listen to my Heavenly Father. And how exasperated He must be with me. I have mistakenly assumed that when Jesus claimed that the temple would be destroyed and in three days he would rebuild it…that Jesus was talking about himself. The good(?) news is, my failure to listen closely to Jesus was because I was like the crowds of people at his crucifixion.
When Jesus was strung out on the cross they mocked his power by saying, “Isn’t this the one who said he would destroy the temple…” We mistakenly thought Jesus was going to be the one doing the hard work of ripping the stones apart.
However, in a close reading of John 2:19 Jesus says, “Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days.”
It wasn’t a question: “Do you want to see a pretty cool magic trick?” It was an imperative command…DESTROY. He was telling them to destroy the temple.
And their response: “Why would we do that? It has taken 46 years to build this. Why would we tear it down?” They revealed their self-important egos. Who do you think you are, Jesus, commanding me to destroy the very thing I have spent a lifetime building? My reputation, my 401k, my picture perfect family, my pastoral identity.
We misunderstood Jesus…in order to experience the power of his resurrection, we must tear down the temples we have built. We must destroy them.
The temple was a physical structure where people would come to present sacrifices and do their religious duties in order to feel God’s presence in their lives. It was where and how they earned their righteousness. It maintained their social status and their belief that they deserved God’s love. Our modern temples are often no longer physical buildings but the lives we have built (and worship). The ways we present ourselves as self righteous.
To put it simply…Jesus is
asking, saying, commanding that we tear down the self-centered, ego-driven lives we have spent the last 46 years building and allow Him to rebuild from the rubble.
What is Jesus commanding you to tear down? What self image are you trying to portray that needs to be destroyed? How is Jesus rebuilding the rubble of your life?
Destroy that temple so the Lord may rebuild you in three days.
Destroy. Not tinker. Not renovate. Not refinish. But destroy.
If you want to see the resurrecting power of Jesus you have to become rubbish.